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Aug. 19, 2013

What's Going on Here?


Dear Colleague,

I am writing this from Santa Monica where we have spent a really nice weekend with part of our family.  The sun never really shone here – the “marine layer” hung over the beach all three days we were here – but it was nice to get away. If reading those opening sentences suggests I needed a getaway, rest assured that it followed a very good week filled with orientation events for the new class of medical school students who start their at-least four-year journey this morning. In contrast to the weather here in California, the sun was shining Friday morning in Aurora as we welcomed the Class of 2017 to the School of Medicine. The annual matriculation ceremony for incoming MD students is always an exciting time, with friends and families snapping photos while our 160 new students don their white coats and receive their stethoscopes from the alumni association. Most of the department chairs joined me at the event, which has become a tradition here, where more than 500 family and friends celebrated the new class. You can find many more details, including where all the new students came from, on our website.

I have been reading Victor Fuchs’s health policy articles since the ’80s and while I haven’t always agreed with his perspective I have appreciated his insight. The current issue of JAMA has his latest, an article about the future of academic medicine, raising fundamental questions about how we educate the next generation of physicians at a time when compensation models for health care services are shifting. The shift in payment from “cost unconscious” third-party payment to “value purchasing” is forcing all health care providers to redefine optimal care. Instead of “providing every test, drug and procedure that offers the prospect of improving the patient’s health, regardless of cost,” health care providers are being asked to look at the “socially optimal amount of care.” In other words, we should be “providing only every test, drug, and procedure that offers the prospect of as much or more patient benefit as its cost.”

That’s a significant shift in how we provide care – and it will be challenging for us. But it can lead to thoughtful changes in how we teach and practice medicine. For example, one proposal mentioned in the article is to shorten, rather than lengthen, training. We are already working with the Association of American Medical Colleges on a pilot to provide training to pediatricians based on competency rather than strictly a fixed-time model. 

Stephen Wolf, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine, has accepted the position of associate dean for integrated curriculum. Stephen is an attending physician at Denver Health and director of medical education for the Department of Emergency Medicine. He also serves as senior associate program director for the Denver Health residency in emergency medicine. Stephen currently serves as assistant dean for advanced studies and director of the iTeach mentoring program with the Academy of Medical Educators. Stephen will focus on medical professionalism, individualized education, compassionate treatment of students and the promotion of non-clinical skills in medical students.

Food trucks are wheeling onto the Anschutz Medical Campus on Wednesdays, offering some gourmet options to the hungry masses “yearning to breathe free.” Coffee and breakfast burgers were available last Wednesday morning from trucks lining the south side of the Henderson parking garage.  Later, lunch options ranging from Vietnamese-inspired to Latin American fare were served in front of Building 500. Get outside, enjoy the nice weather, meet your campus neighbors and have something to eat. And the walk out there will do you some good.  Make sure you give yourself enough time; these rolling restaurants were extremely popular on their first visit last week.

The current exhibit in the Fulginiti Pavilion Gallery, hyper-stasis by Travis Vermilye, closes on Thursday, Aug. 29. Vermilye is an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Denver’s Department of Visual Art in the College of Arts & Media.  There are two series in this work: Nine, which depicts the top nine conditions linked to physical inactivity, and Waiting, which illustrates the large number of transplant candidates waiting for donor organs. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

A fund in memory of Alejandro “Alex” Daniel Rodríguez-Prieto, a second-year medical student, has been established. His family will determine how the funds are used. Alex, who was the first person in his family to graduate college and who kept a framed acceptance letter from the School of Medicine on his bedroom wall, died earlier this month in a motorcycle accident. He was 26 years old.

Have a good week,

Richard D. Krugman, MD
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and
Dean, School of Medicine


"What’s Going On Here" is an email news bulletin from Richard Krugman, MD, Dean of the CU School of Medicine, that is distributed to inform University of Colorado School of Medicine faculty members about issues pertaining to the School’s mission of education, research, clinical care and community service. If you would like to receive these emails directly, or to unsubscribe, please contact
Cheryl.Welch@ucdenver.edu.

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