Friday, November 10, 2006
Dear Colleagues, Students, Alumni and Friends:
In the first of these open letters, I reviewed with you our research vision. I would like to re-emphasize that all mission areas, while unique, are interdependent and are crucial to our success. I appreciate the comments I have received from many of you. We are a team, so I urge you to continue to communicate with me and be full participants in this process.
It is my intention, and I know it is also the intention of the leadership of the University of Maryland Medical System and the University of Maryland Medical Center, to forge and progressively enhance the strongest possible partnership between our organizations. To that end, the School of Medicine and the Medical System will strive to become a magnet hub for many tertiary and quaternary services, and thus develop several new national magnet programs (centers of excellence for which one’s clinical services and expertise are attractive and sought after throughout the state, region and nation).
We are in a unique position as the state’s public medical school. This position requires us to maintain a comprehensive array of medical and surgical programs. The aging of the “baby boomers,” in combination with increasing life expectancies, are creating enormous demands for medical services. Hence, we must continue to strengthen and expand clinical services in this area.
We recognize that the top three causes of death in the U.S. are cardiovascular disease, cancer and stroke (the latter is often related to hypertension). In addition, the fastest growing epidemic in America is obesity, and the complications that it spawns include diabetes and hypertension. We, therefore, have an opportunity to create new magnet programs for these diseases which have such devastating effects. Efforts should be directed toward developing, inter alia, a strong cardiovascular disease magnet program, and a cancer magnet program, which should ultimately result in the creation of a “Comprehensive Cancer Center” designated by the National Institutes of Health. In addition, every effort should be made to evaluate program effectiveness and success using, among others, indices of quality measures and key outcome variables. With this array of clinical opportunities and the accommodating magnet programs, we hope to broaden our patient referral base and raise the level of national recognition for our clinical expertise, patient satisfaction, quality of care and outcomes.
Magnet programs are not only an effective way to marshal talent to efficiently address major disease states, they also enhance the national and international visibility of the institution, and raise the clinical and research profiles as well. In addition, they become an effective marketing tool, since these centers present a cuttingedge image to the public because of their overall excellence. These magnet areas will attract patients and will make the University of Maryland an unequivocal destination for patients seeking superlative clinical expertise and care.
To achieve the prominence required to attract resources and establish our standing among the great academic medical institutions in the nation, we must commit to raise our clinical institutional profile. To this end, each department chair will be asked to develop unique expertise and national excellence in at least one or two magnet areas. Rigorous performance standards will be established so that progress can be measured and acknowledged. Department chairs will be expected to work with their faculty and staff to achieve professional and academic recognition for their respective clinical magnet programs. In addition, diseases in all disciplines associated with high morbidity and mortality rates (such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurological disorders, organ failure, etc.) will receive intensified attention. Communication professionals from the School of Medicine and Medical Center’s joint media relations team will issue communiqués to the local and national media on our programs and the available expertise within the School of Medicine and Medical Center.
Patient-centered care and an overall positive patient experience will be emphasized and practiced in our outpatient and inpatient facilities. Hence, our accessibility, courtesy and efficiency will be the envy of others. In order to compete effectively with institutions which do not have the heavy responsibility of education and research as part of their mission, it is imperative that we adopt the aforementioned approach to patient care. We must create effective monitoring instruments and innovative information technology systems to ensure greater efficiency in the delivery of patient care, which would include prompt, available appointments, reduced length of stay, early-day discharges and coordination of medical care. We must progressively bring all departments into a single appointment system where patients can access our services through a single telephone call a one-stop shopping approach.
I appreciate the participation and contributions of the Medical System leadership. The planned construction of the new ambulatory building brings with it unique opportunities for the Medical Center and School of Medicine to work collaboratively to achieve many of the aforementioned goals. We have every reason to be excited and confident about the future of the School of Medicine and our partnership with the Medical System. There will be challenges to achieve these goals but, working together, we will not only meet our goals, we will indeed exceed them.
I look forward with much enthusiasm to working with each of you in our relentless pursuit of excellence, everyday. Thank you for your cooperation and support.
E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A.
Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland
John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean, School of Medicine