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College of Medicine Administrative Updates

August 2018: Dean Update

Colleagues,

As we conclude an eventful few weeks at the College of Medicine, I want to update you on several milestones that advance our priorities and outline steps we are taking to invest in our faculty and staff.

Rural Population Health

  • Last Monday we announced a strengthened partnership with CHI St. Joseph Health, creating a co-branded primary care network with one of the nation’s top 15 health systems. This partnership aligns with our commitment to rural population health and offers our students a platform for training and investigators a platform for clinical and translational research. I’m happy to report that as an added benefit of the collaboration, faculty and staff will now have access to a lower-cost network benefit within the A&M Care Plan. Receiving care in the new network is voluntary and includes a 75 percent reduction in primary care copays, a 50 percent reduction in specialty care copays and a 50 percent reduction in coinsurance costs at all CHI St. Joseph Health locations in the Brazos Valley. This translates to employee out-of-pocket costs of a $5 copay for a primary care physician, a $15 copay for a specialist and a 10 percent coinsurance for other costs such as a hospitalization. All other coverage will be the same. The new network tier will be effective June 15, and additional information will be shared from the System Benefits Administration Office in the coming weeks.
  • On April 26, faculty and staff from the Health Science Center gathered to define the vision of our Interprofessional Practice Plan and outline the attributes that will support this clinical initiative and our comprehensive approach to both clinical strategy and education. Key items discussed were the importance of population health management, primary care and interprofessional education beyond undergraduate medical education programs. This plan will create value for the college, and I am very excited about its future. I am grateful for Dr. Steven Brown’s leadership and look forward to sharing members of the intercollegiate governing council for our practice plan in the very near future.
  • I am happy to share that we have filled the position of Department Head of Psychiatry. Dr. Israel Liberzon will be joining us August 1. He comes to Texas A&M from the University of Michigan, where he established the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) program between the University and Ann Arbor Veterans Administration Medical Center, a program that has since grown and remained on the forefront of biological research of PTSD worldwide. Dr. Liberzon’s primary research interest centers on emotions, stress and stress-related disorders like PTSD, particularly in the regulation and dysregulation of stress response systems. I look forward to sharing his full story soon on Vital Record.

Military Medicine

  • Our admissions team has been busy visiting the United States military academies to help solidify pipeline programs to attract the best and brightest military members to our college. As we approach the one-year anniversary of our strengthened partnership with Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, I look forward to sharing, in the very near future, news of additional partnerships with military medical centers across the state.

Engineering Medicine

  • We’ve had several recent exciting developments regarding our commitment to engineering medicine. In addition to our LCME approval of the EnMed program, the remodel of the 1020 Holcombe building commences May 15.
  • On April 23, we announced the Health Science Center as a founding partner for the Texas Medical Center 3—better known as TMC3. This 30-acre collaborative research campus will be a health care nexus to bridge the geographic gap between TMC’s existing clinical and research campuses and establish Houston as an international hub for biomedical research. Our partnership with Houston Methodist Hospital and the Houston Methodist Research Institute is strengthened through our collaboration on EnMed and through our shared research efforts. Investment in these resources for the Houston campus will enable us to attract the finest students and investigators.
  • On April 25 and 26, the EnMed program hosted the 2018 Spring Lasker Lecture and Biomedical Imaging Symposium to showcase the convergence of Engineering and Medicine. Some of the nation’s most renowned experts in biomedical imaging and innovation gathered to share their findings and work through the groundbreaking partnership of the Colleges of Engineering and Medicine and the Houston Methodist Hospital and Houston Methodist Research Institute. The event was organized by Dr. Tony Guiseppi-Elie, and we are grateful to Dr. Claire Pomeroy of the Lasker Foundation for her support. I am grateful to Dr. Roderic I. Pettigrew, CEO of EnHealth and executive dean of EnMed, who presented the Lasker Lecture, and all of the EnMed faculty, whose work was instrumental in our being chosen to host this prestigious event.
  • One of the recent events I had the honor of participating in was the Texas A&M Foundation’s Legacy Event that showcased the convergence of our priorities of Rural Population Health Engineering Medicine and how we will, through our focus on engineering medicine, create innovative ways to better treat underserved populations. The event also included remarks from the College of Engineering’s Dean Kathy Banks and Dr. Pettigrew. Videos highlighting our priorities were also created, and I invite you to watch them. One video shared the story of third-year medical student Courtney Welch and her dedication to becoming a rural physician. The other was an EnMed video that features Dr. Pettigrew and his mission to support Engineering Medicine at Texas A&M. Additionally, EnMed received its first scholarship endowment at the event—the Spletter Memorial Scholarship given by Rick and Kathy Spletter ’79. The Spletter family has a keen interest in combining their family’s engineering experiences to produce creative solutions to reduce health care costs and improve care. We are appreciative of their generous support!
  • We have worked over the last year to strengthen our faculty committees. They have been reformed to include employed faculty members and include members of all affiliated health systems where appropriate. Committees are charged to lead in the areas of clinical training, education, faculty issues and research.
  • We are working diligently to support X-Grant proposals that have advanced in the University competition and were not selected for final award. As SVP of the Health Science Center, I have set aside $100,000 to support the Health Science Center-led X-Grants reviewed and selected for five-page applications and not selected for final awarding. The Health Science Center Office of Faculty Development will also be available for consultation for the upcoming submission year, helping faculty identify teams and topics for future X-Grant competitions. Please contact Dr. Emily Wilson (ewilson@tamhsc.edu) for additional details. You can access a full listing of our faculty in Step 3 of the selection process to help identify themes and find more details of the support surrounding the X-Grants on the Texas A&M Health Science Center website.
  • The LCME accreditation preparation is a top priority for the college. As we continue to prepare for LCME accreditation, we are creating teams and processes for continuous quality improvement. These will be permanently incorporated into the college to enhance our education program. Last month, 85 College of Medicine faculty members attended a planning retreat where we framed our strategy and developed goals and tactics. Now, a smaller group of faculty and staff have formed a task force that will refine findings and continue charting our path for the future. I would like to thank Dr. Amy Waer for leading this charge, and for the way the entire college is coming together to prepare for accreditation.
  • I am happy to share that the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents voted to approve a 3 percent merit-based compensation pool for Health Science Center faculty and staff. The Health Science Center has set aside resources to support 1.5 percent of the allowable 3 percent, and the other 1.5 percent will be funded from college and departmental funds. Merit will be given at the discretion of supervisors to employees who are exceeding goals and expectations.
  • Additional major investments in faculty development and support for educators that will be implemented over the next three months include:
    • Creating an education relative value unit (RVU) model to better evaluate our impact
    • Launching EnMed Faculty Fellows to support the unique needs of our EnMed faculty
    • Providing faculty development for educators who are both employed and affiliated
    • Creating a “residents as teachers” program to further enhance the educational experience for students through mentorship

Thank you for all that you do for our college and our students. Your continuous commitment to our priorities and values keeps us unified. I will continue to update you through these Strategic Updates on changes and announcements. If you have questions or feedback, please feel free to reach out to com@tamhsc.edu

With gratitude,
Carrie L. Byington, MD