In a year defined by unprecedented challenges, the faculty, staff and learners at Indiana University School of Medicine near the close of 2020 with much to celebrate. From rising to meet the new challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, to addressing diversity, equity and inclusion head-on, the persistence of the school community to continue the mission of world-class research and education has shined a bright spotlight on the important work happening here.
During the Fall 2020 All School Meeting on October 29, faculty, staff and learners joined together over Zoom to hear important updates from Dean Jay L. Hess, MD, PhD, MHSA, and the executive associate deans and to celebrate faculty award winners.
Missed the meeting? You can view a recording or take a few minutes to read some highlights below.
The next all-school meeting will be in the spring of 2021. Stay tuned for more information.
Update delivered by Dean Jay L. Hess, MD, PhD, MHSA
Dean Hess opened his remarks with an expression of gratitude for the nimbleness of faculty, staff and learners amidst the backdrop of uncertainty.
“We are six months into the pandemic, and you all have remained steadfast. I’m tremendously proud and deeply grateful for your dedication and resiliency,” Dean Hess said. “The hard work and perseverance of the entire school community have given us a number of reasons to celebrate.”
Despite the challenges the pandemic creates for recruiting, Dean Hess reported that top leaders were recruited for the institutes, departments and regional campuses.
Institutes, the IU Health and IU School of Medicine jointly-established umbrella entities, transcend multiple departments and are designed to maximize the synergies between education, research and clinical care. As of this month, leaders for all three institutes have been recruited:
- Kelvin Lee, MD, director for the Cancer Institute and IU Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center director
- Subha Raman, MD, MSEE, director for the Cardiovascular Institute
- A trio of co-directors for the Neurosciences Institute: Laurie Gutmann, MD, chair of neurology; Bruce Lamb, PhD, executive director of the Stark Neurosciences Research Institute; and Shelly Timmons, MD, PhD, chair of neurological surgery
Other key recruitments include Katherine Hiller, MD, MPH, associate dean for the Bloomington campus, Peter Pang, MD, MS, chair for Department of Emergency Medicine, and Patricia Treadwell, MD, special advisor to the dean and chief diversity officer. Treadwell was appointed in June in response to the series of reprehensible events highlighting the depth of the racial inequalities and injustices that persist throughout our society. In her role, she serves as a critical advisor to Dean Hess on matters of diversity, equity and inclusion spanning all of the school’s mission areas.
Additional celebratory highlights of Dean Hess’ remarks include:
- The Bicentennial Campaign raised over $1.7 billion, funding 99 new chairs and professorships, 144 scholarships and adding $183.6 million in new endowments.
- Special recognitions:
Financial Impact of COVID-19
Update delivered by Jamie Dimond, MBA, Executive Associate Dean for Finance and Administration
Indiana University, IU School of Medicine and IU Health are all in a stable and solid financial position despite the pandemic, Dimond reported.
“The reality is, we are not sure what will happen going forward; however, we are doing well in comparison to other Big Ten schools. Our people are our most critical resource, and the university has protected the ‘core’ by avoiding furloughs and maintaining compensation in a difficult environment,” Dimond said.
Strategic initiatives and future priorities include targeted leadership recruitment, optimizing and using space efficiently, targeted expense reduction to eliminate redundancy, and the IU Job Framework Redesign, which enhances the employee experience by clarifying roles and responsibilities.
Additionally, significant work continues with the planning and design for the new Academic Health Center (AHC). IU School of Medicine expects to finalize construction plans by the end of 2021 and break ground in 2022.
IU Health Physicians Top 3 Areas of Strategic Focus
Update delivered by David Ingram, MD, MS, Executive Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs and president, IU Health Physicians
“The IU Health and IU School of Medicine response has been extraordinary. If you compare us to other health care systems, I would give us an ‘A.’ There have been no layoffs, and we’ve managed to keep faculty salaries whole. As we see another surge in COVID-19 cases, we are prepared,” said Ingram.
Ingram shared the IU Health Physicians Strategic Plan goals:
- Improve patient access: Get new patients in to see clinicians in all departments in less than seven days by 2022. The Hospital at Home program, virtual platforms and telemedicine are improving access
- Expand community medicine and implement a statewide workforce plan: IU Health Community Medicine enables the hiring of top providers in the Indianapolis suburban regions, and the statewide workforce plan creates a roadmap for recruitment across the state.
- Build the institutes: Leadership positions have been filled, and strategic plans will encompass the tripartite missions of research, education and clinical care in a multidisciplinary way.
Supporting Faculty during COVID-19 and Improving Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Update delivered by Mary Dankoski, PhD, Executive Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, Professional Development and Diversity
“Our team spends the majority of our time focusing on what we can do to support our community through COVID-19, and how we can accelerate our efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion— specifically, how we can be more of an anti-racist organization. We know that the impact of COVID-19 is having disparate impact on members of our community, especially on women and persons of color,” said Dankoski.
Efforts to support faculty through faculty development and other programs are more important than ever. A year ago, the first ever Associate Dean of Wellness and Chief Wellness Officer was hired. During the spring, Jennifer Hartwell, MD, focused her efforts on urgent, short-term needs brought on by the pandemic and long-term goals which support mental health services across the organization.
The IU Vice President of Research Gender Equity in Research Task Force is addressing the challenges faced by faculty members with caregiving responsibilities at home, particularly impacting scientists with caregiver responsibilities. Additionally, faculty annual review evaluations will be updated to include a COVID-19 impact statement, as well as faculty and staff contributions to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
Dankoski also highlighted the DEI Task Forces, launched this summer to address racism and equity with the input from faculty, staff and learners.
Building Cultural Competency
Update delivered by Patricia Treadwell, MD, Special Advisor to the Dean and Chief Diversity Officer.
Treadwell, appointed to the newly created role in June, is serving as co-chair of one of the DEI task forces and will be evaluating data and recommendations.
“We are looking at different aspects of promoting diversity and inclusiveness at every level. This has to be interwoven into our everyday practices,” said Treadwell.
A series of Diversity Town Halls this fall gave school leadership the opportunity to hear from faculty, staff and learners about areas of concern. Future town halls are being planned, and DEI Task Forces will provide quarterly updates to the school community.
Advancing in Research
Update delivered by Tatiana Foroud, PhD, Executive Associate Dean for Research Affairs
Since 2015, the school’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding has increased by 92 percent, and overall funding for research has increased by 40 percent. IU School of Medicine is currently ranked 28th for NIH funding and ranked 14th for public medical schools nationwide.
“Despite the impact of COVID-19, our research teams have been successful in growing grant dollars and have been very productive,” Foroud said.
On March 27, IU School of Medicine went into research hibernation due to COVID-19 restrictions; only essential research continued until the research restart on June 15. During hibernation, IU School of Medicine researchers secured 466 new awards totaling over $122 million and 194 new NIH grant submissions totaling over $114 million. Additionally, IU School of Medicine researchers published 1,374 publications from April 1 through August 31, many in high-impact journals.
Medical Education in Times of COVID-19
Update delivered by Paul Wallach, MD, Executive Associate Dean for Educational Affairs and Institutional Improvement
Wallach reported six more Scholarly Concentrations have been created—resulting in 17 unique programs now offered statewide. There are about 220 students currently participating in a concentration and 146 new applicants. Through the priority placement program, 34 students selected a regional campus as their first choice based on the scholarly concentrations offered at that location.
IU School of Medicine was awarded a Health Resources and Services Administration Grant (HRSA) of $7 million over four years aimed at eliminating health care disparities, Wallach shared. This will enable curriculum enhancements focusing on using telehealth in primary care, caring for medically underserved and vulnerable communities, and understanding the impact of systemic racism.
The pandemic brought many challenges to medical student education.
- The recruitment process for both medical students and residents was moved online.
- Medical students and faculty collaborated to design and implement a COVID-19 course.
- Residents led efforts to help hospitals manage the extra patient load due to COVID-19, and 124 medical students agreed to graduate early to serve on the frontlines.
- Another 297 medical students signed up to be part of a health professions student reserve core.
- When called upon by the United States Medical Licensing Examination board, IU School of Medicine stepped up to become the USMLE Step Test site for the Midwest during a time when the pandemic closed many testing locations.
- Curriculum was redesigned in a transformative way to address the need for social distancing and minimizing the spread of COVID-19.
“This has been an unprecedented time in medical education worldwide, and how incredible it has been to work with IU School of Medicine faculty, staff and learners,” Wallach said. “Collaboration efforts over the past seven months have been remarkable.”