State of the School 2017

State of the School

Telling the story of the OHSU School of Medicine at a moment of growth, investment and change

February 8, 2017

OHSU School of Medicine Interim Dean John Hunter, M.D., F.A.C.S., delivered a State of the School Address Feb. 7 at an important moment in the school's history, a moment of growth, investment and change.

"This is a moment for recognizing that we have built tremendous research, education and clinical engines that have transformed our institution," Dr. Hunter said. "The choices we make going forward must be based on who we are now and where we are headed. They must also be informed by who we have always been – by our core values."

Dr. John HunterDr. Hunter lauded faculty, staff and students for rallying during a time of challenges to personal and civil liberties. 

He cited the work of Dana Braner, M.D., F.A.A.P., F.C.C.M., chair and professor of pediatrics, OHSU School of Medicine, Laurie Armsby, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics, OHSU School of Medicine,  and Irving Shen, M.D., professor of surgery, OHSU School of Medicine, in partnering with the OHSU offices of the president, government relations and strategic communications to bring an Iranian family to OHSU for life-saving heart surgery for their four-month old daughter. 

U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and the Oregon Congressional delegation joined OHSU to secure an exception for the family to fly from Iran despite the executive-ordered travel ban. The family arrived on Tuesday.

And he recognized the Resident and Faculty Wellness Program, an initiative of Graduate Medical Education, for providing support to colleagues wrestling with a sense of fear for their personal safety in light of actions by the new administration.

State of the SchoolMostly, it's about people

Slides acknowledging the school's four senior associate deans and featuring insights from faculty and students illustrated Dr. Hunter's story of the school. 

Videos showed OHSU's commitment to caring for, educating and leading discovery to serve Oregonians around the state, in partnership with Tuality Healthcare, in the new Center for Radiochemistry and in the diverse micro-climate that is the neuroimaging lab of Damien Fair, Pa-C, Ph.D., associate professor of behavioral neuroscience and psychiatry.

"The story today is about our OHSU community," Dr. Hunter said. "It is about people and numbers, but mostly it's about people."

He shared accomplishments and the challenges across missions.

YOUR M.D. students showing mastery with less classroom time

The medical school now has data to show that M.D. students' mastery of medical knowledge since launching the new YOUR M.D. curriculum three years ago is as strong as it was with the traditional curriculum, even though they spend less time in the classroom.

  • Third-year M.D. students, the first cohort to use the new curriculum, continue to track with the national mean on the Step 1 exam.
  • Nearly every third-year M.D. student passed the Shelf exams, the test required after completing certain clinical rotations. 

Now the Creative IDEAS committee has designed a more flexible, multidisciplinary Ph.D. program to focus on mentorship, community and scientific excellence. Allison Fryer, Ph.D., associate dean for graduate studies, OHSU School of Medicine, will hone a final plan with students for piloting in the fall of 2018.

"Rethinking the M.D. and now the Ph.D. curriculum inevitably means upending the way we've done things for a very long time," said Dr. Hunter, acknowledging Undergraduate Medical Education and Graduate Studies leaders for embracing change to serve students and Oregonians.

State of the SchoolLeveraging investment is next step in research expansion

He reviewed the tremendous expansion of OHSU's research enterprise, including $1.75 billion in philanthropic giving and $150 million from the health care system in recent years invested in programs, technology, faculty and leaders.

"Now we must leverage this investment by working with these outstanding individuals to integrate science at OHSU," he said, acknowledging that next steps include developing better ways to connect faculty with each other and with the tools to take research at OHSU to the next level.

Partnering to improve the health of Oregonians

On the clinical front, Dr. Hunter credited long-time partnerships, such as with the VA Portland Health Care System, and new partnerships with Tuality, Salem and potentially Adventist and others as models for how OHSU fulfills its commitment to improving the health of all Oregonians.

He cited the structural work required to make OHSU's partnerships succeed, including renaming the Faculty Practice Plan to the OHSU Practice Plan to recognize the addition of clinical associates who are not faculty but who are essential team members focused entirely on patient care. 

He noted the challenges ahead, including improving access to OHSU clinics, revising the promotion and tenure process to equally value faculty contributions across missions and taking a close look at how physicians are paid. 

State of the School"The RVU system as our only measure of clinical performance is flawed and not consistent with value-based payment models," he said.

He returned at the end to OHSU's values of respect for all. 

"I want to acknowledge our students, faculty and staff for stepping up in large and small ways to demonstrate our values and push us as leaders to speak out," he said.

He ended with the video about Dr. Fair's lab where the animal, clinical, outreach and data teams are unlocking the secrets of such conditions as ADHD, while modeling diversity in action with such traditions as choosing a word of the week that team members translate into the six languages spoken in the lab.

"The Fair Lab," said Dr. Hunter, "shows us why our values of diversity and inclusion are worth fighting for."

SoM Progress ReportResources

OHSU School of Medicine February 2017 Progress Report 
Video: Watch Dr. Hunter's State of the School Address
Video: OHSU and Oregon - together for health YouTube | OHSU internal (coming soon, OHSU login required)
Video: OHSU Center for Radiochemistry Research YouTube | OHSU internal (OHSU login required)
Video: Welcome to the Fair Lab YouTube | OHSU internal (OHSU login required)
Video: Tuality and OHSU integrate neurosurgery services YouTube | OHSU internal (OHSU login required)