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Associate Dean Erik Wallace, MD Provides Vision for Colorado Springs Branch

In his new role as associate dean, Erik Wallace, MD, FACP, has a single focus: To ensure Colorado Springs branch students have a superior learning experience.

Dr. Wallace has been teaching medical students and Internal Medicine residents since 2003 at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. When the University of Colorado School of Medicine began its search for associate dean of the Colorado Springs branch, Dr. Wallace jumped at the opportunity.

“It’s my dream job,” Dr. Wallace said. “To come to an organization that is starting something new—something loaded with opportunities for excellence and innovation—well, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Always a Teacher

Like many before him, Dr. Wallace credits his own teachers for kindling within him a love of teaching. In college, he served as a teaching assistant where he learned just how much time it takes to be effective—and, just how rewarding and valuable that time becomes.

Even while he attended medical school, Dr. Wallace knew he would eventually teach.

“I’d be in a classroom or in a clinical setting with an outstanding teacher, and I’d be inspired. I’d think, ‘I want to be just like this person,’” said Dr. Wallace.

Establishing the Right Team

Beginning this fall, the School of Medicine will increase the number of students enrolled in its MD program to 184 from the current 160. When third- and fourth-year clinical training begins, 24 students will conduct their training through the Colorado Springs branch, with Dr. Wallace at the helm.

“My priority is the students,” Dr. Wallace said. “Their experience is paramount to the success of the branch. I take seriously my role in creating the right learning environment.”

Dr. Wallace and School of Medicine leadership will create and maintain this environment with input from the community of Colorado Springs, including the group of physician preceptors who will train the Colorado Springs cohort.

“One of the keys is recruiting outstanding preceptors who are dedicated to providing a great educational experience for our students,” said Wallace.

For Dr. Wallace, the key to outstanding preceptors is recruiting people who truly want to be teachers and give back to the medical community.

Another part of his role is to ensure preceptors understand the significant support the School of Medicine provides, including training and preceptor development.

“There’s a science to medical education, and a lot has changed in the last few years,” said Dr. Wallace. “The School of Medicine will help preceptors understand what works and what doesn’t.”

Creating a Community

Dr. Wallace will be working with various organizations in Colorado Springs that will partner with the School of Medicine to provide clinical medical education. He’s charged with helping the hospitals and clinics of Colorado Springs work together for the advancement of medical education within the community.

“Our students benefit from community collaboration and experiencing how health care is delivered across institutions,” said Dr. Wallace.

The community will also benefit.

“When we give our students an amazing clinical experience during medical school—when they love their education and love the people they work with—we know students will want to practice in such an environment. I am confident that many will someday make Colorado Springs their home,” said Dr. Wallace.

Preparing for the 2014 Cohort

Dr. Wallace is currently immersing himself at the main campus, getting to know the resources available to all faculty and students whether on- or off-campus. While he prepares for students to arrive in August, he will also be working to further develop relationships with community members who support the delivery of medical education in Colorado Springs.

“It’s an exciting time for everyone,” Dr. Wallace said. “The School of Medicine is developing a superior program that will bring the best and brightest to Colorado Springs. In turn, Colorado Springs will give our students a level of education that’s exceptional and unique, and one that will prepare them to become outstanding 21st century physician-leaders.” 

The University of Colorado School of Medicine established a branch in Colorado Springs to better serve the needs of students and community. The branch will provide clinical training opportunities for third- and fourth-year medical students. During their first two years at the School, students will complete basic science training on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora and then move to Colorado Springs for clinical training in 2016.​