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Our efforts to establish a medical school at the University of Houston have certainly attracted a considerable amount of public attention and the media spotlight.

That’s not surprising. People find our innovative plan to concentrate on primary care physicians intriguing. When the Texas Legislature takes an interest and the governor himself comes to campus to sign the bill authorizing the school, that’s big news.  And receiving some high-profile gifts, like the anonymous donation underwriting our first class’s entire tuition, is bound to grab headlines and generate tweets.

Naturally, we appreciate the interest. But I’d also like to point out that a substantial amount of hard work is being done off-camera, so to speak – work that may not make headlines but is vital to the medical school making headway.

Perhaps chief among this has been assembling a first-rate faculty.

Yes, it is essential to have an inspiring vision for a medical school and the sizeable resources to implement it, but at the end of the day, we need talented and dedicated instructors to train this next generation of skilled, compassionate physicians.

I’m pleased to say we have been making great progress in this regard. 

By the end of this month, we will have 25 faculty members signed on.  We have another seven positions posted and 10 additional openings on our faculty hiring plan.
The current and future faculty members we’re recruiting bring a wide range of abilities and interests to the UH College of Medicine, but they have at least one thing in common:  a commitment to developing primary care physicians and experience in addressing the needs of an underserved community.

This may not always be front page news, but it is the cornerstone of our medical school.

FACULTY KUDOS, PART I – Speaking of our talented faculty, our heartfelt congratulations go to Dr. Brian Reed, who has been named Family Physician of the Year by the Harris County Academy of Family Physicians. He serves as the chair of the UH College of Medicine’s Department of Clinical Sciences and treats patients at the Lone Star Circle of Care at UH, a Federally Qualified Health Center located in the Health 2 building.  A Sugar Land native, Dr. Reed earned his medical degree at the University of Michigan and has practiced as a family physician for two decades. I’m proud to point out he was one of our very first faculty hires.

FACULTY KUDOS, PART II – Dr. David Buck, our Associate Dean for Community Health at the UH College of Medicine, has published a useful article in the journal Population Health Management suggesting effective alternative approaches to treat “high-need, high-cost” patients in emergency rooms with complex issues. This is the kind of research our medical school – and health care in general – can draw on to lower costs while improving quality of care. 

COMMUNITY SUPPORT – Of course, so much of what we’ve been able to accomplish thus far has been made possible by the continuing support of enlightened and munificent members of our community.  We were able to express our gratitude recently at a dinner held to honor the College of Medicine Founders Council, whose members have donated $1 million or more to our medical school.  Their generosity has been instrumental in helping the College of Medicine move forward.

We also had the opportunity last month at a “Houston’s Health Is Primary” breakfast to acknowledge the guidance and encouragement we are receiving not only from the Founders Council, but also from the UH Board of Visitors Task Force and several other supporters.  Lisa Shumate, Associate Vice President and General Manager of Houston Public Media, used her former TV anchor skills to ably emcee the informative event, which included presentations from a panel of our medical school faculty, who also fielded questions from the audience.   I was privileged to serve as moderator, and I was especially pleased to see UH students from the Advancement Ambassadors and Alpha Epsilon Delta, the pre-med honor, in attendance.

As always, we appreciate your interest and support.  For more information about the UH College of Medicine, please visit our website or email us at medicine@uh.edu.

Best regards,

Stephen J. Spann, M.D., M.B.A.
Founding Dean, College of Medicine
Vice President for Medical Affairs
Phone 713-743-7047
medicine@uh.edu
 
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