The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
March 21, 2008 | from the Office of Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo

Distributed on Fridays via e-mail to all Medical School employees, students, residents, and postdoctoral fellows, UT 2 Me is Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo's weekly update of news and items of interest. He also welcomes feedback through this two-way communication.

After four years of hard work, our students experienced Match Day yesterday – undeniably one of the most emotional days in their academic life. It was a beautiful day, and I saw lots of happy faces and goose bumps – the anticipation was incredible. Out of 192 students, only six did not match – our best record in the last 10 years. Sixty percent of the students will remain in Texas, and 25 percent will stay here, I am happy to report. We have students matched to the Cleveland Clinic, Yale, Johns Hopkins,  Duke, Stanford and Hawaii – just awesome. I am confident that wherever our students go, the training and values they received at the Medical School have laid a strong foundation and will serve them well in the residency phase of their chosen profession. Many have told me that they will pursue their residency out of state but want to come back to Texas to practice. I want to thank our faculty for preparing these soon-to-be physicians. We wish the fourth-years the best, and I am looking forward to seeing those who matched to our programs for years to come.

I was pleased that Gene Vaughan, vice chair of the UT-Houston Development Board, was in attendance at Match Day. I hope the development board and all of us are sensitive to the Medical School’s need of scholarships to recruit and retain the best students. Only 4 percent of our students receive scholarships, and we must improve that trend as we aim to enhance our quality improvement for education.

You may recall that this week was our site visit from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the body that accredits our residencies and fellowships. The ACGME visitors came to review our compliance with duty hours, the balance between resident service and education, resident supervision, and evaluations. Thank you to all who participated in this visit, which was well planned by Dr. Patricia Butler. I will keep you posted on the results. As we continue to meet the guidelines of the ACGME, we do not want to be just compliance officers but instead focused on the future of education. We must strategically plan for educational programs – quality must be paramount and program directors have to be held accountable.

I have been very busy over the past week with budget meetings. In addition to our internal Medical School meetings, I have been consulting with Juanita Romans, chief executive officer of Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center, on the annual operating agreement. The relationship of the CEO of MH-TMC and the dean is critical to the success of this partnership, as is the alignment of our strategic plans. Medical School leadership also is working with Dr. Steve Brown, associate dean for Harris County Programs, on strategic planning for LBJ Hospital.

I’ve been keeping you apprised of how great our UT Physicians clinics have been performing – with revenues and collections exceeding previous years’ numbers. I also would like to let you know about the good work of the caring people in those clinics. I receive e-mails from patients who have had exemplary service from nurses, physicians, and clinic administrators.  By contrast, I also have heard from patients and administrators about situations that do not satisfy our standards of care, service, or the basic tenets of a good physician.

I want to thank our outstanding health care providers -- our people make UT Physicians and the Medical School great, and through our continued efforts we can collectively become greater.

It was a team effort, led by Dr. Alex Valadka, in the Department of Neurosurgery, that led to the recent granting of $33 million to the Mission Connect Consortium from the Department of Defense. The consortium is led by the Medical School and includes faculty from Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University, and UTMB Galveston.  The grant will allow this group to further its translational research of mild traumatic brain injury. I could not be prouder of their strong work, which I am certain will result in improved clinical outcomes for patients.

I am pleased to report that our students are surpassing their peers in national tests. The National Board of Medical Examiners has released the 2007 annual report for the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) Step 1 and 2. Our students had a 95 percent passing rate – better than the national average of 94 percent; and our students’ average score was 225, compared to the national average of 222. We can all be proud of our students’ achievements – a terrific gift to the school, which shows that our efforts to exceed average and achieve excellence are working.

A small subcommittee has been formed to address the issues of faculty retention and Medical School morale. We’ve agreed that there is not one solution and that a fix will not occur overnight. To improve our retention rates and morale, there must be transparency – at the administration level and department level -- and clear expectations of the faculty role. I am working to redefine the role of the chair, giving them the authority to be accountable for the proper functioning of their department, which includes satisfaction rates. It is vital for chairs to communicate with their faculty and staff  –  this means two-way communication, asking for feedback and encouraging questions. The infrastructure of good faculty morale must comprise these principles:

  • The department climate is the chair's responsibility.
  • Chairs can have a positive effect on the department environment by modeling the characteristics they wish their faculty, staff, and students to exhibit.
  • The chair position is a service position.

Faculty senators have an important role in not only serving as the spokesperson for their department during Senate meetings but also in relaying information back to their chairs and colleagues. I welcome your input and suggestions on this complicated and important topic. Be reassured that changes will be forthcoming.

Have a great weekend,


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