The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
August 22, 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.

I would like to thank new President Dr. Larry Kaiser for his interest and involvement in the Medical School, which was evidenced by his numerous meetings with different constituents here this week. He has shown us that he wants to learn about us and what we do, and I think his visits have been informative for his transition to president. He understands that we have talented people here at this young school who are doing great things with limited resources. He has an avid interest in what goes on here and I am certain he will effectively compete for resources to enrich our academic programs – I will work shoulder-to-shoulder with him to advance the stature of our Medical School. If you were not able to attend the town hall meeting, which featured Dr. Kaiser, among others as special guests, please see the online posting.

Dr. Kaiser also had the opportunity to perform his first surgical case in a Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center operating room, and he is open for referrals at Memorial Hermann – TMC and LBJ General Hospital in the near future. In addition, Dr. Kaiser addressed the Faculty Senate this week, giving an overview of his priorities and taking questions from the senators.
Dr. Kaiser and I shared a sad occasion this week – the funeral of Dr. Ralph Feigin, who served 31 years as physician-in-chief at Texas Children’s Hospital and chair of Baylor College of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Feigin spearheaded a success story, which is Texas Children’s. With his determination, leadership, and values for education and patient care, he was able to create a very successful hospital and department with tremendous support from the community. I was privileged to have two recent lunch meetings with him and found him very warm and insightful as we discussed the challenges of the health care for children in the city, issues related to recruitment and retention, and collaboration. As you may know, Dr. Feigin was fighting lung cancer and reportedly tried an innovative gene vector therapy, which was pioneered by one of his former students. That is what makes medical education so special – we are truly preparing our leaders of tomorrow, who have the potential to do incredible good.

This week two important strides have been made in supporting faculty retention efforts. The first one was an Appreciative Inquiry retreat held at the Medical School and sponsored by the Medical School. Headed up by Dr. Tom Cole, professor and director of the John P. McGovern, M.D. Center for Health, Humanities and the Human Spirit, the conference aims to promote the good news and good work of communities through storytelling and sharing. The program uses a simple approach to improve communication and increase the visibility of good, which in turn, diminishes complaints. This is a great step in the effort to pursue cultural changes, and we are committed to making this happen. I am sure you will be hearing more of this program as it filters throughout the Medical School and Health Science Center. The other accomplishment this week was the finalization of the UT Academy of Educators. For those of you who have heard of this concept before, it will be ready to implement in next few months. Members of this new academy will focus on innovative teaching projects and the development of educators while being mindful of how this group interacts with existing educational committees. I want this academy to have impact and not be just another meeting. I am very supportive of all efforts to support our teaching faculty, and I know this group will meet my expectations and advance our faculty morale and educational programs.

We had two meetings this week to talk about our image. It will take planning to give our medical school the long overdue image that it deserves – and to show this new face to the community. During this process, we must be cognizant of the Medical School’s affiliations with UT Physicians, the Health Science Center, and our inpatient clinical components. We are meeting with Memorial Hermann leadership to strengthen our partnership, which I hope will result in marketing that clearly reflects our strengths and relationships in the community. I’ll keep you posted on this front.

I would like to reply to a question that came up during yesterday’s Faculty Senate meeting about the presence of our clinical practice in the community. We must continue our controlled growth of our clinical practice – we have already grown 9 percent in our outpatient visits this year. While we want to grow, we have to be mindful and respect our affiliation agreements and the primary care physicians in the community. These are the physicians who refer to our specialists – and they keep us in business. We are expanding our clinical offerings at our UT Physicians location at Bellaire and the South Loop, selected specialties are moving to the Memorial Hermann Plaza, we are expanding to Memorial Hermann Memorial City, and we are restructuring our relationship with LBJ Hospital. We are more diversified today than ever, and our goal is to grow strategically.

I would like to end today with another thought about Dr. Feigin. He was driven to raise the bar – elevating the stature of pediatrics and pediatric care in Houston through his leadership, innovation, and hard work. By doing so, he created a wonderful opportunity for his “competition” – us – to grow equally as strong. Competition is healthy – and in this case results in good health and care for our patients. It is important for all of us to have that drive to succeed and compete – it us up to all of us to raise the bar.

What are you doing to raise the bar? I’d like to hear from you about any innovative programs you are a part of in efforts to strengthen our medical school. Responses will be posted here.

Have a great weekend,


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