The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
July 25, 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.

This week, I’ve been thinking about the Medical School’s image – what we are, what we want to be, and how we want others to perceive us. It’s important for us not only to improve our image, but to make sure we project it and make our story known.

There are so many outstanding initiatives, people, clinical successes, research breakthroughs, and educational opportunities at our Medical School, and each of us needs to do our part to make others aware of the good things that happen here. As we embark upon a marketing campaign for our Medical School and UT Physicians, our community must hear from us – what we are doing and how we are getting better. Our collective goal must be focused on always improving – this is a fundamental decision that we must make and employ. As our competition increases and get stronger, we cannot remain complacent, and we cannot fail – we are too important to the UT Health Science Center, the Texas Medical Center, and everyone who relies upon us. We have to not only know that we are doing the right things, but we also must believe in what we are doing. Practicing great medicine, providing unparalleled service; offering a first-class educational experience; producing outstanding, meaningful research; and being known for the best reputation in our community – these things will not happen if we do not continue to improve.

I would like to share some outstanding initiatives with you – so that you may share them with others. The first is our fund-raising efforts – which have been bolstered this week by student volunteers who have been soliciting donations to the Medical School’s 1,000x500 Campaign for Scholarships. The basement call room was abuzz with enthusiasm and activity when I visited this week. I was happy to have the opportunity to thank some of our alumni donors and talk to our alumni, who told me they have fond memories of their training here and want to be reconnected to the Medical School.

We also had an alumni outreach event at the Texas Family Practitioners meeting, which was held in Houston last week. It was great to see our alumni there who are established, successful doctors throughout the state. They are pleased to learn about our Medical School’s latest accomplishments and want to be engaged with us. I want to let our family practitioners and other primary care physicians know that the Medical School will maintain a strong emphasis on primary care – 40 percent of our students go into these specialties. We will aggressively pursue support to establish scholarly concentrations in selected disciplines, including primary care. I encourage our faculty role models in these fields to engage with our students early in their learning to support those who will travel these paths. Our faculty also must reach out to alumni – again, it is up to all of us to share our good news.

Reaching out to students early in their education is the focus of a new collaborative proposal by the Medical School and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS). The GSBS is a very competitive program, and it needs to attract the best students in the state. Dr. Diane Bick and her Graduate Student Education Committee have proposed to enrich our summer program for undergraduate students at the GSBS – much like our established Medical School Summer Research Program led by Dr. Gary Rosenfeld. I am very supportive of this effort, and I’ll keep you posted.

I had two more meetings with the National Youth Leadership Foundation students over this past week. Most of the students were from out of state, and they were awed by the Texas Medical Center. We are fortunate to have these undergraduates visit us – again, the opportunity to try to connect with their passion early in their careers. They received a good overview of our environment, and I reminded them that their individual drive is the key to success.

I attended a productive faculty-student event last night hosted by Drs. Patricia and Ian Butler at their home. It was a very nice and warm reception for our pre-entry students – the Butlers have been hosting the pre-entry students for 18 years now. There was great discussion of career opportunities, and the students were able to meet involved faculty who are interested in mentoring and mingle with them in a personalized, relaxed setting. I would encourage our faculty to open their houses to young students – it really makes a difference to our Medical School to have such a collegial atmosphere.

Another initiative I want to share with you is Dr. Stanley Schultz’s Global Health Initiative Program, which will be a collaborative effort with not only other Health Science Center schools but institutions community-wide. This will be a great multidisciplinary opportunity for our students to learn about medicine in a global setting.

Our Medical School students, as well as all of the UT Health Science Center students, know what an incredible resource we have in the UT Student Health Services Clinic. I want to thank this group of talented professionals, led by Dr. LaTanya Love, for taking care of our students. Last school year, the clinic had more than 6,500 patient visits, plus they offer telemedicine and outreach to the UT Mobile Van in South Texas and staff the 24-hour needlestick hotline. Student surveys report a 90 percent satisfaction rate at the clinic – compared with a 50 percent satisfaction rate at other medical schools’ student clinics. Dr. Margaret McNeese tells me that it was former Dean John Ribble who allowed the clinic first to open, and that former Dean Max Buja and Charlie Figari both have been instrumental in keeping the clinic operating. Keep up the good work – we appreciate it.

The budget process is ongoing and will be completed in the next few weeks. I am “enjoying” the process because it is allowing me to really understand the microenvironments of our departments. I have tremendous respect for the chairs and the directors of management operations (DMOs), who realize the importance of a balanced budget. I also appreciate all of the people who work with the DMOs to generate the information that allows us to approve budgets. These teams working together are crucial and must always respect the “special” human values of our great school – the career of our faculty and staff as well as the future of their families is on the line. We expect departments to carefully look at their overall environments and provide an honest and viable budget. If there are problems, please let us know – we are here to help and understand the difficulties facing some departments. I am certain our chairs and DMOs will be responsible and respectful during our budget process.

At last evening’s MSRDP (Medical Service Research and Development Plan) meeting, we heard of the good news and initiatives in our UT Physician clinics and at LBJ General Hospital. Andrew Casas, vice president and chief operating officer of UT Physicians, told us about improvements in billing and the revenue cycle in partnership with McKesson, reductions in “dropped” calls (when a caller hangs up before they reach someone), and new marketing materials, including UTP taglines and a referral guide for physicians.  I applaud Andrew’s persistence and vision. He and his team have shown that they are truly committed to making our clinics the best show in town. Just like our recent AOA and AMS agreements, we value our renewed partnership with McKesson, and look forward to continuing our improved results. I encourage our faculty to be appreciative of this company’s hard work for us.

We also heard from Dr. Steve Brown, associate dean for Harris County programs, who gave an elegant presentation, which included news about progress being made in surgery wait times. By increasing operating room time, our physicians at LBJ have been able to help patients who had been waiting for months for surgical interventions. He also reported that the district is carefully assessing the needs of our community as they look to expand their facilities. I want to thank the UT leadership at LBJ for their progress. I am a bit disappointed by the low attendance at the MSRDP meeting – this is a meeting for our clinical faculty, chairs, and DMOs. It is your practice, please be involved and attend so that you can hear the latest information.

Next week, I am planning a special issue of UT 2 Me, with answers to the questions you have posed. If you haven’t asked a question, please feel free to do so

Have a great weekend, 


For archives of this newsletter, visit the Dean's Communications homepage.