It is an understatement to say that much has happened since April this year.
Our department chairs and dean’s administrative team have been working tirelessly to address the changes needed for a thriving Brody School of Medicine in the future. We have worked to communicate these issues and actions through our web page (Preserving the Mission), departmental meetings, and an initial town hall meeting in October. Across the school, many faculty and staff are engaged within the departments, leading a whole variety of changes. These challenges and agendas are being worked through in both the basic science and clinical science arenas.
I recently attended the annual meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges. Every conversation that I heard there bore some familiarity and resemblance to the conversations that are currently taking place in Greenville. The difference in the conversations is the context. We, in Greenville, know where our considerable strengths exist. Based on these strengths, our success will be determined by employing principled strategies that could be implemented anywhere, overlaid with our local knowledge and needs. Understanding the local culture, climate, epidemiology and economy will be a major component of our ultimate success.
Knowing that there was so much good work still to be done at home, it was exciting to be able to anticipate coming home. Reassured that across the nation we are all in transformation, I am more fortified than ever with the sense that we are on the right track. It will take the continued commitment of every one of us to fully achieve the goals that are essential for the future of the school.
Because of all the changes that have been initiated, everyone has a “need to know” how any or all of the change agenda will affect them personally.
My most meaningful conversations have been in the hallways, one on one. Each and every time, I can tell that the conversation was helpful to us both. Shared anxiety was replaced by mutual understanding.
Almost every conversation begins with a clear recognition of the serious nature of what we are doing. I can tell that folks realize that we must make changes in how we do business. Specific concerns are discussed in these encounters. The initial doubts about the “why” and the necessity of the planned changes reaches clarity.
What is still evident is the pervasive concern that we may be missing opportunities, and that even with the most careful thought, every nuance or unintended consequence cannot be anticipated. For example, with the dissemination of the clinical faculty compensation plan, it is clear that fine tuning and adjustments must take place at the individual unit level. I have established a Compensation Advisory Committee that will work with these issues, with a goal of addressing the pieces that continue to need answers and revision.
Even as we speak about the compensation plan, the concern I have is that folks will believe the only important thing is “the money.” The emphasis is important of course, given the changes in health care and in our own state budget, but the perceived urgency is a function of timing and the need to implement the process. We will likely learn much from the implementation itself.
There are other elements that also need emphasis. What about the passion, motivation and dedication of all who serve at the Brody School of Medicine? The personal engagement and vitality of all individuals at an emotional level will be essential for us to achieve the necessary positive outcomes that will continue to support our unique mission. It is through our focus on mission-driven aspects of our work – education of the next generation of physicians and scientists, the creation of new knowledge, improvements in the health and health equity of the citizens of eastern North Carolina – that we will be able to gain our own personal energy, as well as continue the teamwork that defines our culture.
We will remain an intact medical school, no matter what. The school is not for sale as some have feared. Our unique faculty and staff talent is critical to the needs of the school and the region. Our relationship with Vidant Medical Center is vital to both of our futures. Both institutions must become more efficient as we experience changes in the health care environment. We must make decisions based on information versus intuition or traditional practices. The more informed we become, at the individual and collective levels, the better the decisions will be.
There are challenges and hurdles and we will overcome every one of them. I know that we can, and I believe that we have the very best school of its type in North Carolina.
I look forward to a hallway conversation with you sometime soon,