July 07, 2016
I hope you had a great holiday weekend. I enjoyed time with family and friends. July 4th is always a time to reflect upon our country and our freedoms. Never more poignant than in this time of global turmoil.
I suspect you’ve all read about the recent Supreme Court decision to uphold UT’s admissions policies and to reaffirm that public universities may consider race as one factor among many as they strive to admit a diverse student body. Dr. Darrell G. Kirch, AAMC president and CEO, emphasized that the decision reinforces “the ability of medical schools to conduct holistic evaluations of applicants, including personal interviews of every student.” We believe that a diverse medical school student body brings great value to our school and helps prepare our graduates to care for a diverse population. This year’s commencement speaker Dr. Eliseo Perez-Stable, director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, spoke eloquently about the importance of providing quality health care for all. McGovern Medical School is proud to be home to a competitive and diverse group of students who are dedicated to improving the lives of the patients and families we serve. In just a few weeks we will welcome our next entering class of dedicated students.
This past week, I was delighted to help welcome our rising third-year students at the Student Clinician Ceremony, an event that marks the start of their clinical clerkships. Dr. Francisco Fuentes, professor of internal medicine and recipient of the 2016 Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award, was the featured speaker, with wise advice for our students. Five residents were selected by the medical students to receive the Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Awards. Congratulations to Dr. Kayla Kebbel of Internal Medicine, Dr. John Gomez and Dr. Lauren Fournier of Neurology, Dr. Seth Bellister of Surgery, and Dr. Farah Amro of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Congratulations also are in order for our UT System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award winners from the Medical School: Dr. Ian Butler, professor and director of the Division of Pediatric Neurology; Dr. David Marshak, professor of neurobiology and anatomy; and Dr. Hope Northrup, professor and director of the Division of Pediatric Medical Genetics. The winners will be honored at a dinner hosted by the UT System Board of Regents and each will receive $25,000 – making these among the largest awards in the nation recognizing outstanding faculty teaching.
I also wanted to share that our medical school’s annual report, with its cover story on Dr. Red Duke, won first place from the Houston Press Club. Congratulations to Darla Brown and our Office of Communications!
As many of you know, UTHealth is embarking on a multi-year philanthropic campaign. Our Office of Development is working to build a strong case for support for selected areas of focus that we hope will resonate with the donor community. Please provide your input as you interact with the development team. Philanthropic support is vital to the medical school, especially our ability to grow academic programs, to recruit and retain outstanding faculty and students, and to flourish.
We had a great site visit from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Summer Medical and Dental Education Program administrators. We are one of 12 host sites offering a free six-week summer program for talented college freshmen and sophomores to introduce them to careers in medicine and dentistry, and we hope to expand our program through interprofessional opportunities.
Earlier in the week I met with Dr. Carmel Dyer, professor of medicine, chief of staff at LBJ, and associate dean of Harris County Programs. She brought me up to date on early discussions about the new Affiliated Medical Services (AMS) contract between Harris Health and UT and Baylor for physician services at the county hospitals, LBJ and Ben Taub. Dr. Dyer, Dr. Jose Garcia, and Julie Page are actively engaged with leaders at Harris Health to develop and finalize the new contract. Today I am meeting with Dr. Michael Gardner, executive vice president and administrator of ambulatory care services for Harris Health, to discuss our LBJ outpatient clinics. I met Dr. Gardner and his wife, Dr. Nora Doyle, in Atlanta, where we were colleagues at Grady Memorial Hospital, Atlanta’s safety net hospital. We worked together caring for high-risk mothers and infants. Dr. Gardner was the director of Maternal Fetal Medicine. Dr. Doyle, who is currently on faculty in our Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, was a collaborator of mine on the NIH Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network. I’m glad to be able to reconnect with them in Houston.
Tonight, Drs. Patricia and Ian Butler are opening their home to students and faculty for a dinner to welcome students into the pre-entry program. The program is offered each summer to approximately 30 incoming students. The purpose of the program is to provide an introduction to medical studies with a rigorous academic program, tutorial sessions, computer and study skills sessions, and support networks. I’m looking forward to meeting and visiting with students and faculty.
Summer is off to a great start at McGovern Medical School.