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
April 4, 2009 | 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.

We have almost completed the first round of budget meetings with Medical School departments to discuss strategic growth and plans for fiscal year 2010. This information will be shared and discussed with our hospital partners as we work to finalize our budgets over the next few weeks. I appreciate your understanding  that as much as we would like to, we cannot grow all areas and accommodate all requests.

I had a walking tour of the UT Professional Building with my good friend Andrew Casas on Friday. I noticed tremendous capacity for clinical appointments on Friday, and I encourage our chairs and medical directors to make this underutilized space available to new people and programs. March was a very strong revenue month for the group practice, and we continue to see a good trend in terms of collection and increased faculty productivity. With our new revenue cycle group engaged in a more productive relationship with McKesson, I can only predict great things for the future.

At the Executive Council meeting this week, President Larry Kaiser and Kevin Dillon presented a positive message on finances and operating margins. I want to thank Dr. Bryant Boutwell and Dr. Max Buja for their leadership on the SACS accreditation process. We also heard about an internal branding campaign from Gravelle Branding/Marketing. We will link the UT Physicians and Medical School marketing campaign with what is being organized by the Health Science Center. I continue to be impressed by our strong administrative leadership, tremendous accountability, and the commitment from the Health Science Center to support the Medical School.

This week’s department chairs’ meeting featured a strategic plan presentation from Juanita Romans, CEO of Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center; Jody Graham, chief operating officer of Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital; and Carl Josehart, CEO of TIRR Memorial Hermann. I agree with Dr. Kaiser, our relationship with Memorial Hermann has never been stronger. I am looking forward to hearing from the Harris County Hospital District and Dr. Steve Brown about how we can strategically align our growth with our other primary clinical partner, LBJ General Hospital.

Dr. Kaiser will lead the UT contingent in the March of Dimes’ March for Babies April 26 – please help support this worthy cause. Also upcoming is commencement, May 28, so make sure you have ordered your regalia. Next week I will be in Austin for an outreach visit with alumni. I also am planning to visit with the Alumni Association Board as we work to integrate their initiatives with our goals for increasing alumni participation and scholarship dollars.

We had a very positive meeting with our orthopaedic surgery and trauma leaders, Dr. Tom Clanton, Dr. Richard Andrassy, Dr. John Holcomb, Dr. Milan Sen, Dr. Kyle Dickson, this week to discuss how to improve our educational program, expand research, and optimize patient care and experience. Memorial Hermann – TMC is now home to the busiest trauma center in the United States, and the high volume must be met with the highest standard of patient care. I want to thank all of the individuals involved with this outstanding program for showing how much they care. Juanita and I will make the orthopaedic surgery and trauma service a priority in our annual agreement discussions.

I recently received an e-mail that Dr. Henry Strobel and his students have safely arrived in China for that international elective. Even though they are 13 hours ahead of us, I know I can count on them reading UT 2 Me. This week we are continuing our questions and answers and are featuring Christopher Schneller, Student Senate president, who addresses two questions on behalf of the students.

  1. What is the student perception of the school - what attracts and retains you?

To start, many students at UT-Houston value that our education lies deep in the heart of the Texas Medical Center, a booming medical industry where almost any, or perhaps every, medical intervention is within walking distance. Our relationships with Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center, LBJ General Hospital, and many other hospitals in the area help fuel a desire for knowledge. I dare say that UT-Houston students are some of the luckiest students in the country. The experience we get during our clinical years most definitely rivals that of other prestigious schools around the nation. 

Secondly, there is a special type of camaraderie here that starts immediately. Even before we first step foot into the classroom, we are warmly welcomed with open arms by our Admissions Office and the students above us with events like Welcome Weekend and the Henry Strobel Medical Student retreat. This is a tradition unlike that of any other medical school in the state, and we should definitely be proud of that. We start classes on day 1 already as friends and colleagues and not as complete strangers.

Streaming video and 24-hour access to the gross anatomy lab and the Learning Resource Center are definite selling points to many of the students entering our program. Students now have the ability to re-access any information from a lecture they perhaps found difficult, or speed through lectures they are more familiar with. Our advances in technology help expedite an already "time-crunched" basic science years. In addition, the standardized patient program and the technical skills center allow us to practice medicine from the very start; allowing patient interaction and instilling proper techniques before we have the M.D. behind our name. The students can surely see our school does all it can to offer a wide range of experiences to adequately prepare us for the rest of our career.

2. What are the top three things you would like to see changed?
1. There has been an overwhelming push amongst the classes recently to switch our curriculum from subject-based medicine to system-based. Whereas many of us are aware the time and effort it will take to transition to that teaching method, we feel as though it is almost a necessity. With preparation for the Step 1 being a large part of the first two years, subject-based medicine puts us at a disadvantage. Many of us worry that we are falling behind the current trends; and with system-based schools becoming more of the norm rather than the exception, the call for some adjustments in our curriculum leads the forefront of our concerns.

2. Increased and more effective communication between the students, faculty, and administration has been a large issue as of late and will continue to be an issue amongst the students and its senate for the next few years. Dean Colasurdo, Student Affairs, and Educational Programs have all made large strides this year in trying to increase and organize the vast amount of information students are given here during their four years. The implementation of the student forum allowed students to voice their concerns directly to the faculty and was warmly appreciated by all involved. We continuously ask that our questions be addressed sooner rather than later and have seen a pleasant shift in that direction.

3. Finally, many students feel that adding an elective to the third- year clinical curriculum would allow students who are still “left in the dark” find a moment of much needed clarity. A large number of us have interests in programs that we hardly or simply do not experience our third year and are forced to plan our fourth-year schedule with the idea that that interest will be maintained and fulfilled. Students interested in say ophthalmology, urology, pathology, or ENT rarely get exposure to these forms of medicine. If an elective was offered, we may see a dramatic and welcomed alteration in our match statistics.

We are all here for our students, and the Medical School will continue to work hard to further involve the students in creating the best possible educational environment.

Have a great weekend,




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