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Executive Updates

Executive Updates
from Dr. Byington

February 2019: Senior Vice President Update

HSC Community,

I hope your spring semester is going well thus far. The rest of 2019 promises to be a critical and exciting year for the institution—with many innovative ‘firsts’ and opportunities to lead the way in 21 st century health care delivery, education and research. I would like to take this opportunity to share recent accomplishments and noteworthy updates across our components:

86 th Legislative Session

The 86 th Texas Legislative Session kicked off Jan. 8 with the unanimous election of a new speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, Dennis Bonnen. Through the course of the legislative session, which runs through May 27, the Legislature will set policy relating to higher education and health care in our state, affecting our students, institution, clinical practice and professional occupations. Additionally, the Legislature will determine state supported funding levels for the Health Science Center’s education of our students, research programs and community-based outreach programs.

Our legislative priorities are focused on ensuring there is stable state funding to continue providing a productive learning experience for our students. We are requesting increased state formula funding to support the instruction of our students and the continuation of existing non-formula support funds that we use to teach students, provide clinical rotations and maintain affordable tuition.

We are also asking the Legislature to support the expansion of our successful Healthy South Texas program as Healthy Texas, bringing our proven programs in diabetes, asthma and infectious disease to communities statewide. Additionally, we are requesting state funding to continue our work in addressing the opioid crisis in Texas with the creation of a Project ECHO hub and the development of a new psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program.

As a reminder, the Office of Government Relations is our interface with the Texas Legislature, Congress, and Senior State and Federal Executive Branch Officials. If you plan to engage in an official capacity with elected officials, their staff, political appointees, or on proposed legislation, please work with that office so we can maximize the effectiveness of engagement with the federal or state government, while also assisting with compliance with federal lobbying laws and Texas A&M System policies. Please contact our Health Science Center state government relations liaison, Emily Cormier, at  Cormier@tamhsc.edu or our federal government relations liaison, Taylor Sexton, at  Sexton@tamhsc.edu.

Construction across our campuses

Several construction projects are currently underway across the state to allow for the continued education of health professions students as well as space for innovative faculty research:

  • The College of Dentistry’s new 157,000 square foot, 9-story state-of-the-art clinical education facility in Dallas is on schedule to be completed in 2019. The new nine story building will allow dental and dental hygiene students, along with their faculty supervisors, to work in “pods” that resemble group practices. This new innovative model is designed to enhance comprehensive patient care and provide greater access to care for citizens of Texas and beyond.
  • Also in 2019, the second Medical Research and Education building on the Bryan campus is expected to open. The 172,000 square-foot project includes a 200-seat teaching lab, lab core facilities, offices and support facilities. Keeping multidisciplinary collaboration in mind, intersections at the core of each level enable congregation among researchers, students and staff.
  • In Houston, the remodel of space on the sixth floor of Houston Methodist Hospital is well underway, which we expect to begin utilizing in March 2019. We will also continue construction on our new Houston home, remodeling our building at 1020 Holcombe, with an expected completion date of summer 2020. The 18-story building will include state-of-the-art education space, laboratories specifically designed to foster collaboration between physicians and engineers, and many amenities for our students, faculty and staff.  

Diversity Reporting Accountability Day

A special thank you to all of our colleges for your participation in the recent diversity and inclusion retreat hosted by Vice President and Associate Provost Dr. Robin Means-Coleman. As part of the retreat, each of our health sciences colleges presented a diversity report to Texas A&M administration, including President Young and Provost Fierke. I applaud efforts across our components to support the excellence of the Health Science Center through inclusion and I am so proud of the advances being made across the entire university.

EnMed students to begin in July

In other exciting Houston news, the first class of EnMed students was matched Jan. 29, and they will begin in July. I appreciate the work of the College of Medicine admissions team as they have recruited promising future “physicianeers” for this program. A partnership between the Texas A&M College of Engineering, College of Medicine and Houston Methodist Hospital, EnMed is the nation’s first four-year, fully integrated engineering and medical education curriculum leading to both a MD and master’s degree in engineering accredited by LCME.

New Doctor of Nursing program

Planning for the establishment of a doctor of nursing practice program is well underway. This effort fits into our goal of graduating more nurses who are prepared become nurse educators, researchers and leaders. I applaud the work of the College of Nursing to continue moving the college to new heights.

Second Annual Opioid & Pain Management Conference

Earlier this month, the Coastal Bend Health Education Center (CBHEC) hosted its second annual Opioid & Pain Management Conference for health care professionals. I’m proud of the work of CBHEC and our Opioid Task Force, who is leading the way in addressing the opioid epidemic through community outreach, education and research.

Participation at SXSW
I’m also pleased that in March, the Health Science Center will have a strong presence at South by Southwest (SXSW), which attracts participants and visitors from around the world to Austin. Working with our university colleagues, the institution will help lead a panel discussion that explores the integration of technology to deliver health care in unconventional ways, specifically in rural regions. The panel will provide an opportunity to highlight our impact in rural population health and will prominently feature our ‘ moonshot’ for rural health care.

Of course, these bold ideas cannot be achieved without our talented faculty, staff and students leading the efforts. Thank you for your continued commitment and for your support as we move forward. There are many great opportunities to come in the months ahead. As always, for real-time updates, please follow me on Twitter  @carrie_byington and visit the  Vital Record news site.

Best Wishes,
Carrie L. Byington ’85, MD