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
Sept. 11, 2009 | from the Office of Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo

Distributed every other Friday via e-mail to all Medical School employees, students, residents, and postdoctoral fellows, UT 2 Me is Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo's regular update of news and items of interest. He also welcomes feedback through this two-way communication.

Happy New Fiscal Year! I am happy to say it was another good year for our Medical School’s group practice, which grew in most every area and posted a 13.3 percent increase in charges and RVUs from FY08. This shows our chairs are making growth a priority – it is a plan that is predictable and executed. Well done.

Research is another area where I am proudly patting our chairs’ backs for adding new recruits to our old and new space. It is great to see new faces, new expertise, and new teachers who are energized and productive. It was less than two years ago when we saw just the potential of an empty Medical School Expansion building, and now we see it filled with focused researchers and new grants. I am grateful to the chairs, faculty, and staff who have made this happen.

Speaking of research, I want to congratulate Dr. Valentin Dragoi on receiving the prestigious NIH EUREKA grant. He is being recognized for his innovative, risk-taking research, and we are proud to have him on our faculty.

Yesterday morning, I heard a powerful story from parents whose 23-week baby was born at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital weighing just over a pound. They spoke about the combined brilliance, wisdom, and passion of patient care that they had never experienced before. It is this kind of news – beyond any financial performance – that kicks our fiscal year off to a terrific start.

There was a well-deserved round of applause given to the admissions/student affairs team at our Administrative Council meeting last week for their outstanding achievements. The structure of assessing student readiness and the rising student scores on the USMLE are examples of their excellent work. You know that we are the seventh largest medical school in terms of enrollment, yet our size must be matched with this level of record.

I had lunch recently with a second-year student who could not find the words to express how happy he is to be at the Medical School. This is the sentiment I hear from so many of our students – that there is a special environment here that helps to foster growth and camaraderie. We want to continue to be known for that – and for listening to our students. With that in mind, we will be introducing our concentrations to help students develop and hone their career path in the next few months. These will include primary care, and yes, surgical specialties, which are highly requested by the students.

Our postdocs are another group who need support from faculty and staff. They are asking for assistance for career development and your support of their first Postdoc Appreciation Day Sept. 24.

Dr. Patricia Butler tells me that, thanks to the residents, we are making tremendous progress in reducing our resident duty-hour violations. Some departments have whittled the violations down to zero – this is our expectation for all departments. For if they do not, there are serious consequences. This continues to be one of our main educational priorities for the upcoming year.

I want to thank the department chairs for submitting more than 70 names of core faculty members to teach clinical skills to our students. This is the type of response we, and our students, expect – to share valuable knowledge.

I also want to thank President Larry Kaiser for attending our recent council and chair meetings and for his contributions. He recently requested an estimate of the number of faculty the Medical School plans to recruit over the next three years. Despite the recent growth, I have asked for an additional 220 faculty based on teaching and clinical needs. If there is one person who can fight for and achieve this growth for us, it’s Dr. Kaiser. He knows how to make a compelling case for our Health Science Center.

I am pleased to tell you that we have reached a verbal agreement on our annual operating agreement with Memorial Hermann for FY10, which includes unprecedented support in many areas that will help stabilize programs in need of resources. I want to thank Juanita Romans and the leadership team at Memorial Hermann for their continued support.

At our Administrative Council meeting last week, we welcomed our newest chair, Dr. Walter Lowe, of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. My interactions with him have shown he is incredibly strong in business development and accountability, and I know he is committed to the success of his faculty. I also enjoy seeing him standing on the sidelines next to head coach Gary Kubiack during the Houston Texans games.

Speaking of famous people, our friend Dan Wolterman, president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, who spent time with our students addressing “The Shape of Healthcare Delivery to Come,” recently was named the 59th most powerful person in healthcare by Modern Healthcare magazine. Congratulations, Dan!

I enjoyed the always well attended and well organized LBJ chiefs meeting this week. I learned of their robust growth over the last fiscal year and their growing pains experienced with their electronic health record. After 30 years of dedicated service, Mary Frances Fabrizio announced her retirement. She will be missed, and I hope that she will continue to enrich the school with her leadership and involvement.

I was privileged to give an update on the Medical School at the Student Intercouncil’s annual salutation last week, which was attended by the six deans and President Kaiser. Dr. LaTanya Love also gave helpful information on swine flu precautions and antiviral availability.

“You can always count on doing the right thing after you have tried everything that has gone wrong.” This was one of the messages from Memorial Hermann’s recent First Board Education Seminar, which featured Nathan Kaufman, speaking on “Healthcare Reform: Implications for Boards, Hospitals and Physicians.”  He said that there are two lifestyle changes for health care that we can expect: 1. The ability to create new money by new means to invest in programs; 2. To collaborate with affiliates that may have conflicting goals. Our health care of tomorrow definitely will be different than today’s, and it is an interesting, and complex topic.

I want to close this week’s issue with a tribute to one of the greatest pediatric chairs, who died last weekend. Dr. Charles Daeschner served as chair of the pediatric department at UTMB for 29 years. I am indebted to him for his teaching and for allowing me to train there as an international graduate. He had an incredible love for education, as he wrote one of the first texts, “Pediatrics: An Approach to Independent Learning.” His style was described as “teaching by intimidation,” and you did not sleep when you knew you had to give a report to him the next day. He pushed you beyond what any resident set as a goal, and for that I am grateful. After his retirement he did not slow down, and instead dedicated himself to the Galveston community. Dr. Daeschner taught us all a lot.

Have a great weekend,


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