I announced my plans to step down as Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences at Brown University with mixed, bittersweet emotions. I have enjoyed my time as Dean immensely. I have been able to work with a talented leadership team to achieve many of the goals that we established. In particular, we have improved the relationships with our teaching hospitals and have begun the process to form a truly functional and integrated Academic Health Center. The next step will be the formation of a faculty practice plan at Lifespan in order to align the interests of the faculty, the hospitals, and the medical school. The timing was perfect for the new Medical School building in the Jewelry District. The money was there, the building was there, and the University had committed to it. Of course, others did the programmatic space planning, the architectural plans, the demolition, the construction, and the outfitting. What did I do anyway? In any case, it was exciting to be part of a great team to complete the work. Nurturing and giving birth to the new School of Public Health, for many years has been the work of four different deans. Supporting new programs particularly the Brown Institute of Brain Science has been great fun.
The work has been very satisfying but, of course, at times stressful. Since the first day in 1990 that I began administrative work as Physician-in-Chief of Montefiore Hospital at the University of Pittsburgh, my jobs have been all-encompassing. Balancing the needs of individuals and units with the needs of the overall organizations and keeping your integrity has not always been easy. Thus I will be returning to my roots on the Infectious Diseases faculty at the ripe old age of 68. I look forward to work that I have not been able to focus on− writing, teaching, clinical care, and our international programs−on July 1, 2013. Provost Mark Schlissel will chair a national search for a new dean. Both Provost Schlissel and President Paxson have made clear that the momentum and upward trajectory of the Division of Biology and Medicine is an important priority for Brown University.
Another important update from the Division since the last newsletter is that we are in the early stages of developing a new Primary Care – Population Health (PCPH) program. This program will be aimed at creating the next generation of practitioners and leaders in primary care and population health. This plan was originally proposed by Associate Dean for Medical Education Philip Gruppuso and the planning process is being led by newly appointed Assistant Dean and Chair of Family Medicine Jeff Borkan. As envisioned, the program will have 24 students per class. This is in addition to the 120 students per class that are now in the Alpert Medical School. There will be a separate admission process and a separate curriculum designed to focus on both primary care/population health, as well as traditionally required medical science content. Students will graduate with a medical degree but with additional expertise in topics such as health care reform and policy, prevention and end-of-life care, management of provider systems, and health care economics. There will be the opportunity and perhaps the requirement for a master’s degree. The educational methods will emphasize active learning, case-based material, and small group sessions. The clinical experience will be a longitudinal third-year experience instead of the traditional specialty clerkships. In the longitudinal experience, students will follow a panel of patients. They will see children being born, people diagnosed with a variety of disorders and treated with medication, surgery, and other procedures. By following individuals and families, students come away with the same content as traditional clerkships but a much better understanding of health and disease prevention. We hope to admit our first students in 2015. I will report more on the program’s development in subsequent newsletters.
The LCME site survey team visit took place from October 9-11, 2012. Phil Gruppuso led over 120 faculty members, administrators and hospitals executives in a self-study process over the past year. The survey team reported initial findings in a verbal report to President Paxson, Provost Schlissel, and me. We are cautiously optimistic and a full report of the findings will be sent from the LCME in February 2013.
The Brown approval process for the School of Public Health is nearing the end. The final vote before approval by the Corporation was taken this month by the faculty. It passed without a dissenting vote. Associate Dean for Public Health Fox Wetle actually gave me a hug, my first, right after the vote.