The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
Oct. 24, 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.

Well, it’s been another busy week at the Medical School. Friday evening we had a wonderful event recognizing the faculty who have been promoted this year. Regardless of where they came from, all of our faculty feel welcomed into our school. In fact, a faculty member told me afterward, “You do get the idea that this is one big family at UT!”

Speaking of faculty promotions, it was a coincidence that I read an article in the October issue of Academic Medicine about the status and the future of promotions committees the other day. After reading this article, I have concluded that our promotions committee is ahead of its time, as it already adheres to many of the article’s recommendations, including being comprised of experienced faculty members and promoting fairness. Rewarding creativity and fostering an environment of mentorship, as well as exposing junior faculty to a promotions committee meeting are all good ideas, which we should consider encouraging. I believe our promotions committee does an outstanding job at looking at the big picture and respecting the fairness of the process.

Conflict of interest was the topic of the Medical Service, Research and Development Plan Board meeting this week. This issue applies to all employees – not just faculty. The policy protects the institution and the employees – it is not a barrier, rather a safety net for us. To read the policy to see what is required of all employees, click here. At that meeting, we also learned that the practice plan posted a positive margin for the last fiscal year and for last month, September. This is great news, especially since our clinical mission was impacted by Hurricane Ike. Our group practice is very strong and has been reinforced by wise changes made in the benefit structure and augmentation for this fiscal year, which will bolster our resources and our position for stability and growth.

In other clinical news, I am pleased to report that LBJ General Hospital continues its aggressive growth – improving its operating room velocity and increasing the number of babies delivered by almost 100 a month. This reflects the planning of the Harris County Hospital District leadership, including Dr. Steve Brown and David Lopez, president and CEO of the Harris County Hospital District.

Juanita Romans, CEO of Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center, and members of the Memorial Hermann leadership will attend the next meeting of our clinical chairs. We will talk about the role of the medical directors, improving quality measures, and the management of our inpatient and outpatient facilities. As you know, Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center just was named the sixth top-performing academic hospital in the nation by the University Health System Consortium, which is based on quality outcomes and patient safety. There is no reason why we can’t move up to number one!

At the last department chairs meeting, I asked how many chairs need endowments for their faculty  – and everyone raised their hand. We will work with the department chairs to build relationships with Susan Coulter, vice president of institutional advancement, and her team, to pursue development opportunities. A proposed structure would place development officers in about every department, but this is a resource issue. We will discuss this topic again at our next chair meeting.

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to hear President Larry Kaiser address several groups, including the Health Science Center Development Board. He has a very busy schedule and is raising awareness of our institution and engaging the community with the Health Science Center. His relentless efforts have him visiting with constituents on a daily basis, and he does not let bad weather slow him down. Board of Regents Chair Scott Caven hosted a welcome reception for Dr. Kaiser and his wife that evening, which was another opportunity for us to share the good news of our institution.

Drew Kanaly, chair of the Medical School Advisory Council, also spoke at the Development Board meeting. The Medical School is fortunate to have such an enthusiastic champion of our people and their work on our side.

I stopped by the Office of Communications’ open house Wednesday and was amazed by the great turnout – nearly 200 people participated. This group does a great job for our school, and I request you keep these projects in house.

I also attended the Annual Board of Directors Meeting at Memorial Hermann Wednesday, which was led by Dan Wolterman, president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Healthcare System. He gave a very impressive talk , showing Memorial Hermann’s growth in terms of market share and awareness. The quality measures also were impressive, and all of the graphs are going in the right direction. Of course, they, too, are facing the same economic realities that we are and must be prepared for the future.

The billing governance group also met Wednesday to discuss revenue cycle billing strategies. We are defining a structure in which the billing experts will interact with our clinical areas in a constructive manner and are planning training for each clinical department leader to analyze and monitor billing data. I feel very upbeat about these efforts with Andrew Casas, Kevin Dillon, Jorge Zambra, Denise Dailey, and Elizabeth Duhon leading this program to improve our billing structure and performance.

I had the opportunity to help celebrate a 122nd birthday this week. The honoree was John Freeman, one of the founders of the Texas Medical Center, friend of biomedical science, and for whom the entry hall in the Medical School Expansion is named. Mr. Freeman died in 1980, but Thursday would have been his 122nd birthday, and we marked it with a cake and the unveiling of the special 90th birthday proclamation, which was signed by 99 of his partner colleagues at Fulbright and Jaworski. I want to thank Charles Saunders for thinking of us -- he found the document and donated it to the school so that it could hang in Freeman Hall.  Please to stop by to take a look at this interesting piece of TMC history.

Faculty Affairs is starting departmental reviews of all departments, which will be done every five years. We will have a very well structured faculty review process driven by the chair, and clear guidelines will be set. The departmental reviews will ensure that a meaningful annual faculty review is taking place.
Yesterday, I had the chance to see the Summer Research Program in action during the competition for the Webber Prize. These students and their faculty mentors do a great job in instilling a love of research into all those associated with the program. This year, the program accepted more students than ever and had the highest number of participants in the Webber Prize competition. They are all winners.

These students remind me of the great momentum we are experiencing recruiting new funded investigators to our institution. We continue to enjoy the caliber of established and junior investigators in our basic science and clinical departments. Our recruits are from prestigious institutions around the nation – Hopkins, Harvard, San Diego, New York – they are all incredible. At this pace, the Medical School Expansion will be fully occupied by funded and talented investigators by the end of the fiscal year.

I hope I will see many of you at the AAMC Annual Meeting in San Antonio next weekend. We will be hosting a dean’s outreach visit on Sunday evening at the Witte Museum. I encourage AAMC meeting participants from the Medical School to please call the alumni office at 713.500.5065, if you would like to attend the dinner. This is a great opportunity for us to engage our alumni, and they would love to hear from you directly about your work at the Medical School.

Dr. Jeffrey Actor shared a quote with us from William Butler Yeats during his talk at the Faculty Promotions Dinner: "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." I encourage you to think about this and continue to inspire others with what you do.

Have a great weekend,


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