As the year ends

This was certainly a year like no other. It may seem like we can say that every year, especially since 2020, but this year brought enormous challenges that our department, our institution, and indeed the entire health care system, have never faced all at once. A stubbornly persistent coronavirus, leadership changes, supply chain issues, inflation, and labor shortages, all of this and more have placed weights around our ankles at precisely a moment when we wanted to move quickly and more nimbly. And, though there are hurdles that we can control and many we cannot, as I come to the end of my first year as the Interim Chair and DEO, I wanted to share with each of you why I am even more optimistic about the future of our department. The vantage point I have in this role allows me to see trends and connections that inspire and can guide our path forward.

In this year of transitions, one of the happiest transitions was the promotion of a record number of faculty members to associate professor and to professor. Each one represents a tremendous amount of preparation and documentation on the part of the faculty member as well as a great deal of work by the committee members who review each packet carefully. I am grateful to these members who demonstrate good citizenship and generosity of time and consideration. I am also confident that the changes recommended by a review committee led by our Vice Chair for Faculty Advancement Dr. Christie Thomas will ensure a more equitable set of standards that factor in the broad range of activities of our faculty.

A great deal of that activity is in research. As an academic medical center, we are in a unique position to take advantage of opportunities for novel investigations. We stand alongside colleagues from diverse backgrounds who have perspectives different from our own. Our own expertise cross-pollinates with theirs and new potential solutions appear. There are many resources and an experienced infrastructure available for these potential ideas to be pursued, from internal pilot grants to mentors who can help refine the aims and goals. Our ability to move ideas from bench to bedside in clinical trials has gotten stronger as has our creativity in identifying and successfully acquiring non-federal funds for our work. One such example is the new Trans-Atlantic Research Network funded by the prestigious Leducq Foundation that Dr. Frank Faraci will lead from this side of the ocean.

Our clinical activity has continued to grow as well as we look to new expansions in locations, both physical and virtual, where we can deliver our care. Despite reductions in available resources and increases in their costs, our net revenue still grew by more than $4.8 million from Fiscal Year 2021 to FY22. This is due in large part to an openness on all our parts to new ideas and to a recognition that adaptation and conscious change will remain a primary constant. Our Vice Chair for Clinical Programs Dr. Kim Staffey, our Department Administrator Denise Zang, and a remarkable administrative team of division administrators, coordinators, schedulers, coders and billers, and hundreds of others are also working diligently out of the spotlight, helping us stay on a stable and sustainable path. We cannot do what we do without them.

And, of course, all of this activity occurs with an eye toward future generations. We train students, residents, and fellows to pick up where we will leave off. Our educators far exceeded the Carver College of Medicine’s expectations for medical student teaching this year, planting the seed for many of our graduates to choose internal medicine for post-graduate training. Our residency and fellowship programs continue to innovate in curriculum design and to successfully recruit the cream of the graduate crop, often beating national trends in some subspecialties.

And although this is only a small and general list of the amazing things we accomplished together in 2022, I would like to close the year out by acknowledging a couple facts about all our achievements. First, none of this would have been possible without extraordinary efforts from each and every one of you. Your creativity, compassion, and teamwork has been on constant display and your work in all our missions is a testament to your commitment. Second, that daily effort would not go as far without the generous contributions from supporters. More than $1.5 million dollars was donated to our work, taking the form as endowed professorships, new research programs, and expansions of our ability to train and mentor young physicians. Next month and throughout the coming year, we will work with our partners in the Center for Advancement to connect your work with those who want to add in its success. If you are one of those people, before the year ends, you can also contribute to that work right here.

I have been honored to serve as Interim Chair this year and I am grateful for all the encouragement and kind thoughts you have sent my way these last 12 months. I hope that these lines of communication between us will only grow easier to use and that you will continue to keep me informed about what your hopes, ideas, and concerns are in 2023. My very best to all of you for a Happy New Year!

About Isabella Grumbach, MD, PhD

Isabella Grumbach, MD, PhD; Interim Chair and DEO, Department of Internal Medicine; Kate Daum Endowed Professor; Professor of Medicine – Cardiovascular Medicine; Professor of Radiation Oncology

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