Thomas Boat, MD, Christian R. Holmes Professor and dean of the UC College of Medicine, divided his annual update on the college into three parts: change and its impact, opportunities and reasons for celebration—and there were plenty of each.
Boat, dean of the college and UC vice president for health affairs since July 2011, delivered his third annual update to faculty and staff Tuesday, Oct. 29, in Kresge Auditorium. A crowd of about 250 was on hand to hear his remarks, "Beyond Organizational Restructuring: Opportunities for Program Development.”
"We have made huge strides in the development of clinical programs and in creating a curriculum that has really transformed our educational program, and we are beginning to make progress toward restructuring and revitalizing our research,” Boat said at the outset of the talk.
Boat pointed to extensive restructuring that has been underway for the past few years at the College of Medicine, including the faculty practice, UC Health/University of Cincinnati Physicians integration, the UC Health system itself, which was formed after the Health Alliance was dissolved, and the college’s support services. In addition, the college’s departmental lineup has changed—including addition of a biomedical informatics department and reorientation of basic sciences.
Boat singled out UC Health, which now includes UC Medical Center, West Chester Hospital, the Daniel Drake Center for Post-Acute Care, UC Physicians and a partnership with the Lindner Center of HOPE. Net revenues were most recently reported at $1.2 billion, only slightly lower than the old Health Alliance that included six institutions in addition to UC Medical Center.
"UC Health is the only health system in the city that’s rapidly gaining market share,” Boat said, citing a growth from 9 percent market share to almost 14 percent. "That is really remarkable. Further growth is going to be a goal, and it’s going to be important.”
Another point of pride is the restructuring of medical education, with an integrated curriculum and more clinical experiences occurring in the first two years on campus. "Our medical students feel well prepared to go into the junior year clinical experiences, probably more so than they have in the past,” Boat said.
In addition, an undergraduate medical curriculum is up and running, which Boat termed "an important opportunity for us to create longitudinally integrated experiences for students across the campus.”
Boat also noted the recent restructuring of the health affairs campus—which also includes the College of Nursing, the James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy and the College of Allied Health Sciences—with Nursing Dean Greer Glazer, PhD, named associate vice president for health affairs. Emphasis will be placed on promoting interprofessional activities, especially education, among the four colleges.
Challenges inevitably come with change, Boat said, and the College of Medicine has its share including mandated UC-wide compliance measures, adoption of new Funds Flow approaches intended to level the playing field for all faculty and programs, transition to an increasing level of interdisciplinary programming and fostering entrepreneurship in the face of increasing standardization.
"I don’t think we can do well in the future, let alone survive, unless we’re working in an increasingly interdisciplinary mode,” said Boat, citing such models as the UC Neuroscience Institute and the UC Cancer Institute. The Cincinnati Cancer Center, he added, is a partnership with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and is seeking National Cancer Institute designation under the leadership of Shuk-Mei Ho, PhD, its director.
"There is unwavering commitment on the part of the College of Medicine and UC Health to the cancer program development, and we have every intention of making sure that what is started now goes on to new and really remarkable levels,” Boat said.
As for entrepreneurship, Boat said he is confident it will continue to thrive within a framework of increased standardization and centralization. As an analogy, he pointed out that football has rules and boundaries, but there’s still plenty of room for team innovation. "We need people who are bright and creative, work at the highest level, and contribute to the overall agenda of the College of Medicine.”
Opportunities for improvement in the college, Boat said, include philanthropy, competing for the very best medical students, promoting diversity, research program enhancement, embracing public health and behavioral health expansion in such a way that they are integrated with physical health care.
"The University of Cincinnati has made at this point a clear commitment to raise the bar in terms of research programs across the university,” Boat said. "And I can tell you that Santa Ono, as president of the university, has made a commitment for an infusion of a large number of dollars to not only support the research we’re doing now but to recruit investigators and leaders who can take us to the next level.”
Boat cited the success of the Master’s in Public Health program within the department of environmental health, and called for the creation of a school of public health within the College of Medicine, adding, "I would say that within five years we should be organized to be able to do that.”
Boat listed multiple accomplishments to celebrate at the College of Medicine, citing high-impact research by Randy Seeley, PhD, and Joseph Broderick, MD. The college will build on research successes, he said, adding, "We are going to be bringing in people who are going to make a difference in our research programs.”
Additional reasons to celebrate, Boat said, include strong graduate programs, supportive UC Health and UC leadership, talented faculty and alumni, fiscal stability and broad national appreciation for the college’s educational and research contributions.
"I think we ought to recognize that we are viewed as a national and international player, and hopefully we are going to live up to that reputation and in fact enhance it as we go on,” Boat said. The next steps will include an overarching strategic plan for the college that’s interfaced with UC and UC Health.
"Each of you in your own unique way has made a contribution to what we have been able to do in the last couple of years,” Boat told attendees. "And I think that individually and collectively we can make sure that our goals are achieved, but it will happen best if we trust each other and pull together in the future.”
A link to a video of the speech can be found here