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From the Chair – Spring 2014

Department of Medicine

It has certainly been an interesting winter in Colorado and as we move toward spring, I have a renewed sense of optimism as I assess the current landscape of the Department of Medicine and the challenges we face.  I am encouraged by our opportunities and sincerely believe that the upcoming changes will strengthen our department and broaden our impact.
Leadership: The departure of Bruce Schroffel and the decision of Dean Krugman to step down have created an opportunity for new leadership and a renewed commitment to excellence.  While transitions are never easy, UCHealth is committed to an exciting vision for integrated healthcare delivery and a unique approach to community-University partnership.  The School of Medicine remains dedicated to outstanding achievements in each of our missions: education, health care delivery, research, and community service.  New leadership will bring fresh ideas and perspectives to these well-established paths of development.  I believe the partnership between UCHealth and the School has emerged from a strong working relationship between Bruce and Dick and will only be strengthened by new leadership.
Clinical Growth: The clinical activities in the department and across the medical center have continued to expand rapidly.  This growth brings some challenges.  A critical challenge has been the recruitment and retention of faculty that support our clinical opportunities.  Our Division Heads have done an outstanding job of bringing new faculty into the Department; last year we recruited more than 60 new faculty members.  In addition, with the support of UCH and UPI, we have created an incentive program to support the clinical work of our non-procedural specialties.  In this new arrangement, our non-proceduralists are incented to provide clinical care and move toward a multi-specialty group practice. 
Education: As we continue our strong tradition of excellence and innovation in training, we are mindful our focus will not be solely on traditional team models.  Our new Medicine-Pediatrics Residency Training Program expands these horizons by developing future physicians who span the child-adult continuum.  Further, we are working to strengthen our Physician-Scientist Training Program for those who are drawn to the interface between medicine and science.  We continue to develop initiatives to increase efforts to recruit under-represented minority students to our training programs.  Another important initiative is the mentoring program in the Department of Medicine.  This ensures that our junior faculty have the guidance and support they need to make the right decisions and develop career pathways that are ultimately fulfilling. 
Research: The ongoing constraints in NIH funding make it increasingly challenging for our investigators.  The bridging programs supported by the Department of Medicine and School of Medicine help those researchers requiring gap support for their research.  The Outstanding Early Scholars Program (OESP) focuses on early investigators and invests in their future.  Joining our previous group of five awardees are the newest OESP recipients: Sachin Wani, MD, of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and Brian Graham, MD, in Pulmonary Sciences and Critical Care Medicine.  I would encourage you to read more about this exciting program. In addition to these programs, the Department is making strategic investments in faculty that span our traditional divisions. 
Community:  I am cognizant of the necessity of reaching out to the community which surrounds the Anschutz Medical Campus.  This is our new home.  Outreach and involvement of the community as a whole can only help enhance the support for our work.  We are actively working with faculty and trainees to develop meaningful programs that address real needs of our surrounding community.
I realize we must partner across our missions – clinical, education, research, and community – to strengthen our department and expand the career development opportunities for our faculty and trainees.  While I believe we’re moving in the right direction, there is so much more to be done and your input is essential.  Please let me know your thoughts.
Best wishes,
David A. Schwartz, MD