The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
The University of Texas Medical School at HoustonThe University of Texas Medical School at Houston
The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
Dec. 5, 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.

One of the highlights for me this week was our curriculum retreat coordinated by Dr. Patricia Butler, associate dean for educational programs. We had great attendance and good representation from faculty and students at this half-day event, where we discussed and reviewed the most pressing topics facing our educational program today. Some of the issues included didactic versus interactive education, the use of laptops and technology in education, preceptorships and scholarly concentrations, teaching evidence-based medicine, and developing critical thinking. We had a very good discussion on these topics and will listen to faculty, students, and clerkship directors in order to promote positive changes. As a school we would like to encourage mentored relationships that have the potential to advance the careers of our students and allow them to be the best they can be. I think we are on the right track.

At the Executive Council meeting Wednesday, President Larry Kaiser talked about his support of a full marketing/branding campaign for the UT Health Science Center. The Medical School and UT Physicians will have a similar effort that integrates with this. Dr. Kaiser also placed strong emphasis on collaboration between the schools and would like to see how we are working together. If you have examples of how you are working with colleagues from the other Health Science Center schools, please share them with me. We also discussed the SACS reaffirmation process, and I encourage everyone who receives requests of documentation for this important process from Dr. Max Buja’s office or the Dean’s Office to please respond in a thorough and timely manner. We need your assistance to be compliant.

Speaking of compliance, I encourage all of our residents to fill out the anonymous survey they received via e-mail regarding duty hour violations. This survey is critical for us as it is our top priority to protect the accreditation of our residency programs. In the Department of Pediatrics, we had four residents with duty-hour violations in November. I plan to personally meet with each one of them and the program director to talk about what went wrong and how this can be prevented. Duty hours are especially important in light of a new recommendation to curtail resident duty hours to 16 a day to prevent fatigue and medical errors. Two studies by our own Dr. Eric Thomas, which recommended better supervision of residents and teamwork as well as calculating cost/benefits of the recommendations, were cited in this report. A town hall meeting with program directors and all residents will be forthcoming.

I always enjoy meeting with students, and I had a nice lunch Wednesday with the MS1 class officers. They are very happy at our school – they love the people, the patients, the facilities – in fact they are decorating the Learning Resource Center for the holidays. I was pleased to find out that two of them are interested in pediatrics and the other two in internal medicine. It is important for us to nurture such interests in primary care specialties like these.

With the job losses occurring at UTMB Galveston, we have had many applicants. While we cannot hire them all, we are trying our best to bring faculty on board who fit with our strategic plan and new areas of development. Some have been recruited and there are several ongoing discussions regarding other new hires from UTMB.

I enjoyed a dinner the other evening with State Sen. John Whitmire. We talked about the brewing mental health care crisis in the state and his support of the UT Harris County Psychiatric Center.

I participated in the School of Public Health’s retreat to discuss a faculty compensation plan this week. I have learned a lot about this complicated issue and was happy to share information with Dean Roberta Ness and her staff. A compensation plan needs to be fair, simple, and linked to productivity, and I let them know that a chair’s eyes cannot be replaced by formulas. I also emphasized that the involvement of the faculty senate and chairs is a must when discussing a compensation plan.

It was a happy day yesterday in the 10th floor of the Hermann Pavilion as a pediatric residency lounge/lunchroom was unveiled. Residents from pediatric surgery and ob/gyn are invited to share this great space. This exemplifies the commitment from Craig Cordola, CEO of Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, and the Memorial Hermann leadership in support of our academic mission.

Strategic business development was the topic of the Memorial Hermann Advisory Council meeting this week led by Juanita Romans, CEO of the Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center. We also discussed the state of trauma care in the city as Memorial Hermann – TMC is on pace to have 7,000 trauma admissions – they usually receive 5,000. With the closure of the UTMB’s Level 1 trauma center, Houston is seeing an influx of these patients. Dr. John Holcomb has had a meeting at the Mayor’s Office to discuss this topic, and he will present a proposal to city leaders about how best to have a safe environment for trauma with such extreme need.

Every day I see examples of how our Medical School community is leading health care policy and treatment. It is gratifying to see our school making such a difference. 

I want to thank Dr. John Byrne for organizing today’s Medical School Research Retreat. We had very good attendance this morning, and I enjoyed the variety of research snapshots that were delivered by our investigators. We saw many novel approaches to molecular biology and clinical research, which shows again the high level of research being conducted at our school. Dr. Peter Davies gave a nice presentation of the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences and what it has generated as far as collaboration among the schools. I shared our goals for research for the Medical School, which include increasing resources for bridging funds and core labs and creating a permanent budget increase for the number of basic science faculty in our departments. Last evening, we had a nice dinner in honor of Dr. Douglas Fearon, the Hans Muller-Eberhard Memorial lecturer, who will close the research retreat today.

I hope you have had the chance to see our special holiday message from the Medical School, which is a product of a group of talented friends of this school in the Office of Communications. Turn up your sound and enjoy.

Have a great weekend,


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