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Executive Updates

Executive Updates
from Dr. Byington

December 2018: A Year in Review

To the HSC Community,

As we quickly approach the holidays, I would like to wish each of you good health and the many joys of the holiday season. 2018 has been a productive year for the institution, due in large part to your dedication to our mission. I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on a few major accomplishments, as they relate to our institutional goals, over the past 12 months.

INTEGRATION

  • We developed three working groups to lead integration efforts across the university, including groups to address facilities, finances and faculty. As a result of these working groups, we have better aligned our policies and processes with those of Texas A&M University in each of these areas. Thank you to Barry Nelson, PhD, special assistant to the senior vice president for real estate and facilities operations and Raye Milburn, senior associate vice president both for the Health Science Center, for their work with Texas A&M University facilities; Jeff Burton, associate vice president and chief financial officer of the Health Science Center, who has been instrumental in integrating our budgeting process and aligning with the university; and Amy Fairchild, PhD, MPH, associate vice president for faculty and academic affairs for the Health Science Center and Mario Rojo del Busto, LL.M., vice dean of faculty affairs at the College of Medicine, who supported the Health Science Center in better integration with the university's Dean of Faculties.
  • Within the Health Sciences, we have better integrated across our colleges. This includes a shared vision for branding, marketing and communication, diversity and inclusion, information technology, and other critical areas. It also means collaborating across our clinical, education, and research missions. I am thankful for the members of our Health Science Center Executive Committee, including the Deans of the Colleges of Dentistry, Nursing, Pharmacy, and the School of Public Health, who are committed to making integration within our own walls a priority. We are stronger when we work together.

INTERPROFESSIONAL PRACTICE PLAN

  • The Interprofessional Practice Plan (IPP) Bylaws Task Force-appointed as empowered delegates by the five Health Science Center deans-have agreed on the IPP bylaws, which are currently undergoing legal review. I applaud the work of this group, led by Steven Brown, MD, chief clinical officer and associate vice president of clinical strategy at the Health Science Center, and look forward to sharing approved bylaws in the New Year. This is an area of leadership and excellence, as we become one of the first truly interprofessional practice plans in the nation.
  • We announced a strengthened partnership with CHI St. Joseph Health to establish a co-branded primary care network aimed at improving access to health care for the Brazos Valley community while also training future clinicians. This is an important step forward for our integrated, interprofessional practice plan, that will serve our campus and community, and provide a platform for team-based interprofessional education and practice.

INTERPROFESSIONAL EDUCATION

  • A multidisciplinary Opioid Task Force was formed to reduce the burdens of opioid addiction, misuse and overdose on individuals, families, communities and the health care system. The task force's efforts translate well beyond Texas' borders. Their work will soon be featured as part of the American Medical Association (AMA) Alliance's campaign "The Opioid Epidemic: Empowering Community Action." We also became the first health science center in the nation to commit to train every health professions student to administer naloxone-a drug that reverses the deadly effects of opioid overdoses. This training is empowering the next generation of health professionals to become advocates for naloxone administration within their own communities, further helping destigmatize substance abuse disorders and providing transformational learning opportunities for our students.
  • The tenth annual Disaster Day, a hallmark of our interprofessional education, was held for the first time at Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service's Brayton Fire Training Field and Disaster City. More than 650 students from various fields came together to train in effective management of an emergency situation, offering unique transformational learning experiences for the nation's future health workforce.
  • With the close of 2018, Healthy South Texas surpassed one million contacts in preventive health education and support services. Community members, health care professionals, health care students and public officials have taken part in classes, workshops, events, health screenings, consultations and numerous other activities that instill the importance of healthy living for the prevention of chronic diseases. Success of Healthy South Texas is made possible through our strong partnership with Texas A&M AgriLife and is an important component of our rural population health priority area and commitment to interprofessional education.

RESEARCH

  • The United States Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded more than $7 million to faculty across the Health Science Center, creating opportunities for Texas A&M clinicians and investigators to lead the innovation of rural health care in communities across the state. As a result of the HRSA success, and our combined efforts as a comprehensive Health Science Center with a centralized focus on rural health, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas committed $10 million to the Health Science Center to accelerate our efforts to reduce health care costs and improve outcomes. The joint project will bring together the expertise of more than 20 researchers across the Health Science Center's colleges of dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and public health and the A&M Rural and Community Health Institute. Together, we are participating in a moonshot for rural health focused on ambulatory rural care delivery systems, rural hospital function and future, community empowerment, and technology and health information.
  • We joined TMC 3 as a founding member , along with Baylor College of Medicine, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. This 30-acre collaborative research campus will be a health care nexus to bridge the geographic gap between TMC's existing clinical and research campuses and establish Houston as an international hub for biomedical research. Investment in these resources for the Houston campus will enable us to attract the finest students and investigators and continue to lead the way in our priority area of innovation through engineering.
  • Texas A&M University awarded grants to more than 20 Health Science Center faculty members in its second round of the T3, or Triads for Transformation, program. T3 provides funding to groups of three faculty members to stimulate and support innovative interdisciplinary research.
  • The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) awarded two research grants totaling more than $2.6 million to Health Science Center faculty members, supporting the continuation of cancer prevention services for rural and underserved Texans, as well as research targeting the diagnosis and treatment of cancers in adolescents and children. Jane Bolin, JD, BSN, PhD, associate dean for research at the College of Nursing and director of the Southwest Rural Health Research Center, along with David McClellan, MD, assistant professor of primary care medicine at the College of Medicine, are using the funds to advance an established colorectal cancer prevention and screening program for rural and underserved Texans. Deqiang Sun, PhD, assistant professor at the Institute of Biosciences and Technology, received $1.2 million to continue research on an improved method for physicians to quickly, and accurately, deliver medical care to children with brain tumors. As the second leading cause of death in the state, I applaud the interprofessional work of our colleagues to continue searching for ways to both prevent and cure all forms of cancer.

Additionally, I would like to share significant college-level highlights:

  • The School of Public Health celebrated its 20 th anniversary and the College of Nursing celebrated its 10 thanniversary , significant milestones for both components.
  • We welcomed Nancy Fahrenwald, PhD, RN, PHNA-BC, FAAN, as professor and dean of the College of Nursing.A fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, Dr. Fahrenwald joined Texas A&M after a 22-year career at South Dakota State University-a fellow land-grant university founded by the Morrill Act.
  • The College of Nursing's RN-to-BSN program was ranked #1 in the nation by thebestschools.org, which evaluates programs based on quality and range of courses provided, as well as the institution's awards, rankings and reputation.
  • The College of Pharmacy ranked second in the nation for most affordable pharmacy degrees by College Affordability Guide, recognizing their high-quality, low-cost education for future pharmacists.
  • The College of Dentistry was awarded a five-year, $1.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study inherited dental diseases. The college also received a five-year, $1.6 million Texas workforce grant to work with all three Texas dental schools to increase the base number of dental providers by 25 percent in the state of Texas' 323 dental health professional shortage areas.
  • EnMed was included in the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) accreditation of the College of Medicine's Doctor of Medicine (MD) program.
  • Israel Liberzon, MD joined the College of Medicine to lead the new Department of Psychiatry. Under his leadership, we will fill a desperate need for psychiatric clinical treatment and support in Bryan-College Station and surrounding areas.
  • The College of Medicine created a new Department for Military Medicine and launched a search for our inaugural department ahead. A Military Medicine Advisory Committee was formed to help build military medicine into the medical education curriculum, expand our training experiences in military treatment facilities, and seek partnerships for military medical research. The college also formalized a partnership with the U.S. Air Force to establish the Air Force's 59th Medical Wing as another clinical training site for medical students.

It is my privilege to share so many noteworthy achievements from 2018-which is only a small sampling of all the great things that occur each day on our campuses across the state. These successes would not be possible without each of you. Thank you for your commitment to this institution. It is an honor to serve alongside you.

I hope you enjoy the holidays surrounded by family and friends, and that you return to Texas A&M refreshed and ready for the opportunities 2019 brings.

With warmest wishes this holiday season,

Carrie L. Byington, MD