As we prepare for the future of the School of Medicine, we are confronted with several dilemmas: federal officials who cannot work together to write a sensible budget, state laws that create competing and inflexible budget priorities, and impending changes to the payment structure for Medicare. All of these matters affect us directly. We control none of them.
The federal budget cuts, known as the “sequester,” will have a profound impact on research at the medical school. Our support from state government has been limited by economic turmoil for the past decade. Medicare is experimenting with bundled payment structures that are sure to change revenues to the providers who are also our educators.
We can spend our time lamenting these matters, or we can look ahead to ensure the wellbeing of the School and the people we care for. We choose the latter.
For the past year, the School of Medicine has been engaged in a strategic-planning process that reviews our structure. We’ve been asking whether we are organized in the best way to continue to get research grants and clinical trials. Nothing about the strategic-planning process is easy. All of it is critical. Our faculty and staff have stepped up to the challenge with hours of meetings, study and conversation about how we should achieve our goals. We hope to have some conclusions this summer, and then the work really begins.
The leadership at University of Colorado Hospital has been pursuing growth opportunities that ensure continued strength in a competitive health care market. Last year’s merger with Poudre Valley Health System brings a strong presence in northern Colorado and created University of Colorado Health. The addition of Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs boosts our presence in that vital community. With long-term support from University of Colorado Health, the School of Medicine plans to expand its class size by 24 students who will complete their third- and fourth-year training in Colorado Springs.
My colleagues at the medical school are thinking ahead, too. Last year, after my State of the School address, they ambushed me at the podium. They announced that they had established an endowment in my name for the Dean’s Chair and that they were already 75 percent of the way to the goal. I had no idea. As you know, I’m rarely at a loss for words. Well, I was speechless, dumbstruck—gobsmacked!
That endowment will serve as an essential tool for future leadership of the school; I will not use any of the funds it generates. I want them reserved for the next dean of this School so that he or she can pursue the vital missions of teaching future physicians, advancing care through research breakthroughs and caring for our patients and communities.
Respecting our past and looking ahead is a proud tradition of the CU School of Medicine and its leadership. Vincent Fulginiti, who passed away in March, served as the chancellor of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center from 1993 to 1998. He understood that tradition when he initiated the development of our move from our urban site to the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. His memory lives on here.
It continues to be a profound honor to lead this medical school as I have for the past two decades. I am proud of our accomplishments and expect to keep moving ahead. We continue to strive for excellence and to prepare our School of Medicine for the future. We can do nothing less. Our legacy—a strong School able to adapt in changing times—serves as a tribute to those who came before us and as a promise to generations to come.
With warm regards,
Richard D. Krugman, MD
Dean, School of Medicine
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs
University of Colorado