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June 2007 Issue

College of Medicine
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Dean Stern: Exciting Times Ahead at UC College of Medicine

By Richard Puff
Published June 2007

Throughout his 50-minute presentation, “Times of Change,” to College of Medicine faculty on May 15, Dean David Stern, MD, reminded people that despite challenges facing the college, there are plenty of opportunities.


“We are the providers of value-added health care. The College of Medicine is one of the special treasures of this city. We have an academic advantage that distinguishes us from everyone else in our region,” he said.


Stern pointed to recent successes such as scores achieved by students in Step 1 and 2 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination and the growth of UC Physicians. In 2006, UC students had a pass rate of 98 percent for Step 1 compared with the national average of 93 percent, and a pass rate of 96 percent compared with 94 percent nationally for Step 2. UC Physicians practice revenues have increased 22 percent from 2004 to 2006.


To chart the future course, the college has launched a strategic planning initiative “unlike any the college has done in the past,” Stern said. “For the first time, this effort is being undertaken cooperatively with University Hospital and UC Physicians, as well as Cincinnati Children’s and the VA. It’s important that we include our partners in our planning.


“It’s also vitally important to get input from as many people in the college as possible,” he added. “We hope that everyone will participate and embrace this plan.”


“Town hall” meetings will begin soon to help keep everyone up to date and engage them in the planning process.


The efforts are being facilitated by AMC Strategies, a Los Angeles-based firm that has worked with many academic medical centers on strategic planning, including the University of California, San Francisco, and George Washington University Medical Center.


To this point, work has centered on an environmental assessment determining the current status of the college and where the organization should be in the future. Currently in the strategy development phase, four design teams are working in specific areas: translational and interdisciplinary research, organizational alignment and relationships, education, and centers of excellence.


“For example, we’ll find the areas of current excellence and move them forward and identify and initiate program development in areas that have the potential to be centers of excellence,” Stern said.


The plan should be completed in September.


Stern also described an ongoing review of UC Physicians being conducted by ECG Management Consultants of Seattle to improve the operational and financial performance of the practice plan. The clinical mission is what drives the research and educational missions of the college, he noted, and must be as efficient as possible to improve upon its success.


“We must continue our rugged individualism with respect to our expertise and entrepreneurial spirit,” Stern said. “But we want to emerge from this review with a structure which makes us a more potent force in the marketplace for health care.”


Stern added that it’s hoped the review will find cost savings opportunities and suggest a stronger, more efficient infrastructure to support the clinical practices. He’s also optimistic that it will result in access to capital for development, improved contracting leverage and market positioning, and financial support for faculty recruitment, programs and funding shortfalls.


Another anticipated outcome of the review is new ways to use the electronic medical record system to track clinical performance measures to better manage patient care and improve overall quality.


“These are exciting times, and I hope you all will become part of the program. It will take all of us to move this forward,” he said.


Stern also noted recent activity in the recruitment arena.


“We’ve already brought on two outstanding new chairs with Art Evans (OB/GYN) and Arnold Strauss (pediatrics),” Stern said. “And we have some excellent candidates for ongoing searches in surgery, radiology, molecular genetics and cell and cancer biology. It shows how much people want to come to Cincinnati.”

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