Taking stock as the academic year ends

There have been many reviews and pulse-checks these last few months. We have completed our department’s five-year review and will soon receive formal feedback. Many members of the department contributed to this process. I hope that the information gleaned will assist our institutional leadership in understanding the breadth of our mission and our impact on the Carver College of Medicine. Self-examination and external review will also identify for us those areas in which we can improve, and we embrace those opportunities with enthusiasm. Thank you to each and every one of you for your part in providing the data, testimony, and time in assembling that large volume of data, documenting where we have been and where we are going. That this review has come in the midst of our annual budget process and a university-mandated audit speaks to the capacity of our department’s administrative leadership to multi-task and deliver on all fronts. I know these projects produced more than a few late nights and extended meetings. Thanks to all of you who went beyond the call of duty during these busy weeks.

WellDoneIn the midst of all this larger review activity it is worth using this space, the last for this academic and fiscal year, to look back over all that has been accomplished this year. We welcomed new faculty and fellows, celebrated promotions, and set a baseline for our interns’ clinical skills level as we set out to train up a new class of residents. More senior residents demonstrated excellence on the international and national stage in terms of publications and conference presentations. Our residency program increased its national standing as evidenced by one of our best matches ever. Our investigators submitted more grant applications with the support of mentors, colleagues, and a dedicated administrative staff, and realized many successes. We recognized the careers of giants in education and in research not only because of retirement but also because of awards and national recognition. New leaders rose up. Our discoveries earned prestigious publications in peer-reviewed journals. And through it all, we focused on improving the health of our neighbors, preserving and increasing the health of the Iowans who came through our doors.

The challenges working against these accomplishments are familiar. The competitive funding landscape in which diminishing research dollars are allocated to increasing needs; a reimbursement environment that lags our year-over-year growth in clinical volume; expectations to treat more patients in shorter amounts of time with less-than-optimal support staffing levels. All of this contributes to unprecedented headwinds that I know frustrate and concern many of you. I remain firmly convinced that within our department is the resilience, creativity, and talent to push back against these headwinds. We will no doubt hear of new metrics against which to measure our performance. While these measures might point the way toward performance improvement, we will improve with a spirit of collaboration that also maintains an environment promoting the well-being of our faculty and staff. Department leadership continues to solicit your feedback and input for what is working, what needs refinement, and for ways in which we can improve our ability to fulfill the three missions of clinical care, research, and education to which our department remains strongly committed.

DSC_0747Through all the uncertainty that confronts us I am always heartened by the outpouring of affection and camaraderie that is revealed at our graduation events. Each year, our residency program and our fellowship programs come together and celebrate not just that a new class is about to transition from trainee to fellow or fellow to faculty, but the larger division’s accomplishments. Each recognizes individual effort with awards, often named for beloved and missed colleagues, or they laugh together over curated video montages. Regardless of the shape each event takes, the thread running through them all is a bond of shared values and goals and a commitment to a cause greater than any one of us. I hope that you enjoy the photographs and the summaries of each event as much as I do.

I also want to express my gratitude to our department’s Community Engagement & Services (CES) group. They have now completed two separate fund-raising drives to benefit a deserving member organization in our community in the last year. The CES mission is an important one, recognizing the power of combined effort to effect meaningful change. The most recent CES campaign to benefit the Bird House Hospice Home of Johnson County asked department members to contribute either direct donations or goods from a wish list, such as small appliances, household items, and non-perishable foods. A recent visit from Bird House representatives helped members see the direct connection between their gift and a positive end-of-life experience for guests and families. Thank you to the CES committee, some dozen or so faculty and staff members, who organized and carried out the spring campaign. I look forward to seeing what greatness you help us all achieve this fall.

About E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD

E. Dale Abel, MD PhD Francois M. Abboud Chair in Internal Medicine John B. Stokes III Chair in Diabetes Research Chair, Department of Internal Medicine Director, Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center Director, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism Professor of Medicine, Biochemistry and Biomedical Engineering

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