The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
June 20, 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.

The Association of American Medical Colleges released news this week about faculty retention trends – revealing that only 52 percent of faculty remain at their medical school over a 10-year period. We are aggressively addressing this issue through the implementation of cultural changes in order to maintain our core missions and retain and recruit faculty. We have a beautiful new research building and amazing teaching and clinical environments – we need to invest in our people.

I am happy to say that more than $2 million has been paid in incentives to faculty thanks to our positive margins from the practice plan. Dr. Jim Willerson and our incoming President Larry Kaiser have approved changes in our faculty compensation plan, and we are looking at making adjustments to the research incentive program. Through a transparent and fair system, we will reward productive people. And we must keep mentoring and career development at the forefront. Our people are what make the Medical School so special.

Let’s don’t keep that a secret. Media Relations, in the Office of Institutional Advancement, and our Office of Communication at the Medical School encourage faculty to share their good news and latest publication information via the media hotline – 713.500.3030. Let them help you promote your good work.

I want to say thank you to a great group of people – the Class of 2010, who gave me the biggest thank-you card I have ever seen. I didn’t know they made cards that big. I am pleased that they are enjoying their First Aides study guides. One student wrote, “This is why UT-Houston stands above the rest.” We are committed to ensuring our students remain above the rest.

I attended a very informative development seminar yesterday, which revealed interesting facts about the field of fundraising. I learned there are windows of opportunities when it comes to giving – these windows are different among alumni, grateful patients, and regular donors. It takes a special effort to engage them and our development experts are available to our faculty – involve them and great things will happen. There is an estimated $37 trillion from the Baby Boomers that will be transferred to others – children and churches are traditionally the top two benefactors, with universities and medical interests following. Fundraising is the art of connecting a personal story and interest to an institution’s initiative. Every one of us plays a role in fundraising just as we all play a role in telling the message of this school.

Dr. James Willerson This week I had a wonderful meeting about our educational mission with our own Dr. Herbert Fred. I had never had the honor of meeting him before, and we talked for about two hours. As you may know, Dr. Fred is a professor of internal medicine and has been widely recognized for his clinical education practices and expertise. And not just by national or local accolades; the reviews by the students are outstanding – our students relish the time they can spend learning from him. He is the consummate educator, having authored more than 400 papers – many on the topic of medical education. I want to thank Dr. Fred for giving me copies of four books he has authored – he knows I will read them, as I only have time these days for medical-based literature.

Dr. Fred is passionate about medical education, and with 37 years of experience as a faculty member of the Medical School – since its inception – he has observed its evolution. He is not encouraged by its direction, as he writes in his article about internships: “Given the ever-increasing emphasis on sophisticated technology, the shrinking of government funding for medical services, and the devastating impact of managed care, clinical teaching has suffered a serious blow.”

Education must remain in the forefront, according to Dr. Fred, and I agree. Educators are responsible for teaching our students how to make a proper diagnosis. Established faculty also must play a role in educating our next generations – they have the gift of experience to share. In carefully crafting our educational experience, we can be assured of the most prepared students – they will have to work hard, but our faculty will work just as hard to make them the best. We already have such a tremendous environment. Our patient population at Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center and LBJ Hospital is “incomparable in the world – better than Hopkins, better than Boston.” Our students and residents have a tremendous opportunity here – don’t avoid difficult patients, don’t be intimidated by your good friend Dr. Fred. One student summed up Dr. Fred’s teaching style best, when he wrote on his evaluation: “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for life.”

I challenge our faculty to heed Dr. Fred’s call and help us raise the caliber of our educational program – we can always do more. As is quoted from an anonymous source in Dr. Fred’s book, Elephant Medicine and More : “A horseman found a sparrow lying on his back in the middle of the road, feet up. When the horseman asked him why he was doing it, the sparrow said he’d been told the heavens were going to fall that day. The horseman laughed and asked him if he thought his puny little legs could hold the heavens up, and the sparrow replied, ‘One does what one can.’”

Have a great weekend,


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