The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
June 12, 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.

Yesterday I attended the UT System annual budget videoconference, where President Larry Kaiser and Kevin Dillon presented and discussed the Health Science Center’s budget – which stands at nearly $900 million in fiscal year 2010. It was a very positive meeting, which highlighted a strong, stable, and growing year for the Health Science Center – this in spite of many institutions downsizing in this economic climate.

Dr. Ken Shine congratulated the Health Science Center on the outlook of our budget and asked us to increase the scrutiny of our expenses, examine the efficiency of UT Physicians and the group practice, and look at the impact of our cost containment initiatives. Dr. Shine said he will be monitoring the progress of our revenue cycle project, and he is interested in the status of our clinical partnerships. He is encouraging us to seek and seize opportunities outside of conventional environments and improve efficiencies.

We must carefully approach our budget next year in light of increased costs related to depreciation for our buildings, commitment of resources to our new eight chairs, and the robust growth of our research program. We will indeed continue to plan and act strategically to better our school and community. As a health science center, medical school, and group practice, we are busy exploring programs outside of the Texas Medical Center, and even internationally, where we can meet a growing demand for clinical care and education.

Despite opening a new research facility, the Medical School is struggling to accommodate our growing faculty and staff. Our intention is to provide space for the most logical and efficient use, and I ask for the chairs’ support in this endeavor. As well, if there is underutilized space in your department, please let me know. I also encourage those who are not involved in basic science research to consider relinquishing their Medical School Building space and moving across the street to the UT Professional Building.

Thanks to Dr. Kaiser and Dan Wolterman, we are making progress in a high-level collaborative plan related to co-branding and fundraising. The Health Science Center is working to find “brand paths” for the institution as we continue in parallel our discussions related to the Medical School and UT Physicians. We have many important strengths and opportunities to celebrate and leverage, and this is the time to create and shape our reputation going forward.

I enjoyed the well attended Henry W. Withers Lectureship in Family Medicine this week, which was a timely presentation related to the primary care physician shortage in the state and nation. There are many reasons why students are shying away from primary care – inadequate reimbursements, lifestyle issues, and perhaps lack of intrinsic love for the program. Having students exposed to good role models early in their training will help bring back the passion for a profession that has an important role in improving health care.

At the recent Administrative Council meeting, Dr. Patricia Butler discussed resident duty hour violations. I am asking the chairs to personally intervene in this matter as we have two months to go from 200 violations (reported in one year) to zero violations. This compliance is crucial for the health of our residency programs.  Dr. Kevin Lally made a presentation on behalf of the relatively new Department of Pediatric Surgery at the meeting. The department has experienced tremendous growth, marked by expanded services, a new fellowship program, Level 1 trauma accreditation, and pioneering research. We should all be very proud and reassured that we have one of the best pediatric surgical teams in the country -- the success of which is due to its alignment with Memorial Hermann.

This week we marked the eighth anniversary of Tropical Storm Allison. Jacquelyne Rivera and Tammy Humbird create and display a flower arrangement each year to remember this event. “By allowing us this show of remembrance, UT shows greatness,” Jacquelyne wrote. I thank them for their dedication and reminding us of what we loss and how far we have come.

Please help me welcome Dr. Jair Soares, the new chair of psychiatry, to the Medical School. I can already see his enthusiasm for this position and his drive to enrich our mental health services and expand the department’s research program. This department has tremendous opportunity with new facilities being built on the South Campus and its good collaboration with clinical and basic science departments.

We have made significant progress in filling our “last chair” – for the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. I am grateful to the committee, and we have received very strong applicants. During the search process we have requested feedback from faculty and residents. The residents say they want a chair “dedicated to residency education.” I thank the residents for their contributions in helping define the role and expectations of our chairs, and their comments will be considered during the selection process.

Over the next couple of weeks we are welcoming about 200 new residents and interns to the Medical School. Our school is home to one of the largest such training programs in the country, and we are making a new commitment to education so our students can be the best they can be. It is up to them, and it is up to us to make this happen. I am reminded of a billboard I saw recently, “You can only touch what you reach for.”

Have a great weekend,


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