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New Year, New Challenges

A few weeks ago, I kicked off the new year with what I hope will become an annual tradition during my time as dean at BSOM...

A few weeks ago, I kicked off the new year with what I hope will become an annual tradition during my time as dean at BSOM—celebrating the accomplishments of the past year and forecasting the work ahead for BSOM at the dawn of the next—a kind of “state of the school” address. During my presentation at the Dean’s Hour on January, 13, I highlighted our community’s many accomplishments; from the continued heroic efforts we are making to fight COVID, (patient care, vaccinations, contract tracing, community outreach, etc.) to our continued excellent record of grant funding and publications, to the recruitment of yet another outstanding first-year medical school and residency classes—to name just a few. The people of BSOM – our faculty, staff, students, and residents—have accomplished so much during one of the most difficult times of the past 100 years. 

I think it’s important to look back because it reminds us how much we’ve truly accomplished. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, particularly in this challenging time. As I write this, the omicron wave is impacting our local hospitals like never before. The number of hospitalized patients is higher than at the highest peak in December of 2020.  National Guard members have been deployed to assist. Our clinical chairs and program directors have mobilized, adjusting schedules, and several of our residents have stepped forward, with outstanding professionalism, to help with extra patient care duties in the current emergency. At the same time, our dedication to our missions of education, research, and scholarship continues. We look forward to what we will accomplish in 2022 with great excitement. 

We will soon be hearing from our four strategic planning subcommittees (undergraduate medical education, graduate medical education, clinical care, research) and will be integrating the groups’ recommendations into a strategic plan for BSOM. This strategic plan will be shared with the entire BSOM community. Once completed, our plan will provide direction for BSOM over the next five years with a set of measurable indicators so we can see our impact while it progresses. 

With the formation of the Office of Educational Affairs this past October, which brings together all aspects of the M.D. program under one umbrella, we’ve already seen several improvements. These initiatives result from reviews done by external national experts as well as from student feedback. Additional resources to enhance student wellness and mental health, adjustments to student learning resources, and a new career advising structure are only a few of the changes under way. New faculty positions for the foundations curriculum have recently been approved. Preparations for the LCME accreditation visit in Spring 2025 are already beginning. The search process to name an Associate Dean for Medical Education will be kicking off soon. We are grateful for the interim leadership of Drs. Eric Bennett and Bruce Binder, who are so dedicated to our students’ success despite their additional duties as department chairs. 

In GME, we were just notified of another successful institutional re-accreditation, and, despite the challenges of virtual interviewing, we approach this year’s match in a strong position for another successful year. The search for a new Associate Dean for GME/Designated Institutional Official is underway. We are grateful for the ongoing leadership of Dr. Al Painter in this space. 

This year, we will be recruiting a new chair of the Department of Family Medicine to replace Dr. Bruce Binder, who will be retiring in December 2022. Very big shoes to fill, but the strength of the department, one of the true cornerstones of BSOM, will attract talented leaders—of that I’m certain. 

This community is strong. I am filled with hope that this will be the year we can gain control of the pandemic. Regardless, we continue to create a strong future together. I am so proud of every one of you. I’m always happy to hear from you. Reach out with your ideas at any time and keep celebrating your accomplishments. We have so much to be proud of. 

My very best to all of you for 2022, 

Dean Weber 

Last edited on 01/25/2022.