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<p>From planning for the new Academic Health Center to the launch of a Scholarly Concentrations program and the expansion of IU Health Physicians, there’s a lot happening at Indiana University School of Medicine. Faculty, staff and learners gathered for the fall All School Meeting on September 5 to hear important updates from executive associate deans [&hellip;]</p>

In case you missed it: Fall All School Meeting highlights

All School Meeting

Graphic image with the words: Miss the All School Meeting? Read the top take-aways.

From planning for the new Academic Health Center to the launch of a Scholarly Concentrations program and the expansion of IU Health Physicians, there’s a lot happening at Indiana University School of Medicine.

Faculty, staff and learners gathered for the fall All School Meeting on September 5 to hear important updates from executive associate deans and celebrate 2019 faculty and staff award winners.  One key takeaway: There are many reasons to be proud.

“The school is on an excellent trajectory, with an impressive range of accomplishments in research, education and clinical care, that are due largely to all of your contributions of talent and dedication,” Dean Jay Hess, MD, PhD, MHSA, told the audience.

Missed the meeting? You can view a recording of the event, or take a few minutes to read some highlights below.

The next all-school meeting will be in Spring 2020. Stay tuned for more information.

Planning for new education and research buildings

Update delivered by Jamie Dimond, MBA, executive associate dean for finance and administration

IU School of Medicine will soon begin design for education and research buildings planned for the new Academic Health Center in downtown Indianapolis. The preliminary timeline calls for site work to begin sometime in 2022 and buildings to open in 2026, though Dimond emphasized that is partially contingent on a state budget request.

The Academic Health Center project is a partnership with IU Health, Indiana University and the school of medicine and will be located near the site of the current IU Health Methodist Hospital at 16th Street and North Capitol Avenue. The new research and education buildings will sit just south of the existing Neuroscience Center.

“It’s a project we believe will change the geography and landscape of the downtown campus for the next several decades,” Dimond said.

The vision is to move the central hub for medical education to the campus, providing students with state-of-the art facilities and seamless access to the hospital and clinical sites. The research building will provide additional capabilities for clinical research, particularly related to immunology, cancer, cardiovascular and neuroscience.

Surging research funding and productivity

Update delivered by Anantha Shekhar, MD, PhD, executive associate dean for research affairs

Shekhar celebrated the fact that IU School of Medicine’s research programs are on a “blistering pace of growth.”

Funding from the National Institutes of Health is expected to hit another all-time high for the federal fiscal year that ends on September 30, surpassing last year’s record of nearly $150 million by as much as $30 million. If estimates hold, NIH funding will have surged 65 percent in a five-year period.

Likewise, research funding from all sources is up approximately 35 percent over the same time period.

“Research funding is a proxy for the great work that’s happening here,” Shekhar said. “It should be seen not simply as dollars and cents, but as certification by experts across the world about the quality of the work.”

IU School of Medicine faculty members are not just securing more grants, Shekhar noted. They are also producing important findings, as measured by publications in high-impact journals. In calendar year 2018, IU School of Medicine faculty published nearly 2,500 papers in journals with an impact factor greater than 10. That accounts for approximately 10 percent of all publications.

Enhancing educational opportunities

Update delivered by Paul Wallach, MD, executive associate dean for educational affairs and institutional improvement

The school’s new Scholarly Concentrations program is off to a stellar start, Wallach reported.

The program takes advantage of expertise at all nine campuses and offers students the opportunity to earn an optional certification in a topic of interest. Subjects students can study include Urban Medicine and Health Care Disparities in Gary, Quality and Innovation in Health Care in Evansville, Biomedical Engineering and Applied Medical Technology in West Lafayette, and Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in Muncie, among others.

More than 100 students participated in the Scholarly Concentrations program this summer, the first time it was offered.

In addition, the school added a pathway for applicants seeking admission to IU School of Medicine to apply directly to a Scholarly Concentration at one of the regional campuses. Students admitted through the Priority Placement Program will spend all four years of medical school on the campus affiliated with their selected Scholarly Concentration.

Approximately 600 students seeking seats in the class that matriculates in August 2020 applied through the Priority Placement Program.

One goal, Wallach said, is to have “more students choose their regional campus and want to be there.” “Suffice it to say, this has been a really exciting program and we hope it will bear fruit for the school,” he added.

Growing to meet patient demand

Update delivered by David Ingram, MD, MS, executive associate dean for clinical affairs and president, IU Health Physicians

A primary focus of IU School of Medicine and IU Health is to grow IU Health Physicians, the group practice plan. “We’re not trying to grow the practice plan just for growth’s sake,” Ingram said. “What we do know is that there are many patients in the state of Indiana that want our services but can’t get in to see us.”

“IU Health Physicians has set a two-year goal for all service lines that all patients should be able to get in to see a physician within seven days, Ingram said.

Part of the strategy involves establishing the new IU Health Physicians Community Division, which includes community-based physicians who spend most of their time treating patients. While these physicians still have some academic responsibilities, they are less than what is expected of IU School of Medicine faculty.

Notably, Community Medicine is expected to facilitate access to general specialists and improve physician recruiting. “Most of the physicians in the state of Indiana, forecast in the next five years, will be employed,” Ingram said. “We want to be the employer of choice.”

“Growing the practice plan is also imperative to help support mission-driven initiatives such as improving mental health services and addressing obesity, smoking and infant mortality,” Ingram added.

Fostering a culture of inclusion, wellness and success

Update delivered by Mary Dankoski, PhD, executive associate dean for faculty affairs, professional development and diversity

Dankoski shared several examples of initiatives the school is undertaking to enhance diversity, wellness and leadership development.

She noted that diversity is one of the school’s five core values, and said the team in Faculty Affairs, Professional Development and Diversity develops programs around the following themes: representational diversity; fostering an inclusive climate; and improving cultural competency.

  • To increase representational diversity, the school is redoubling efforts to recruit, retain and advance faculty of color through initiatives like the Program to Launch Under Represented in Medicine Success (PLUS), a faculty development program for faculty of color.
  • To foster an inclusive climate, one focus has been on preventing and responding to learner mistreatment.
  • Cultural competency is enhanced through programs like the annual LGBTQ Health Care Conference and Culture and Conversation, a monthly lunch discussion series.

Promoting wellness among all members of the school community is another top priority.

In July 2019, IU School of Medicine and IU Health Physicians collaborated to appoint Jennifer Hartwell, MD, as the first associate dean for wellness and chief wellness officer. The position is intended to enable the school and health system to “reach higher” by coordinating and aligning many efforts that are already underway and exploring new avenues to enhance well-being.

While addressing physician burnout will be a top priority, Dankoski noted that Hartwell is charged with wellness across the school, including among basic science faculty, graduate students and post-docs.

Lastly, Dankoski reiterated the commitment of IU School of Medicine and the team in Faculty Affairs, Professional Development and Diversity to fostering leadership. She cited examples of initiatives underway ranging from executive recruitment to early- and mid-career faculty development programs.

Empowering success through IT

Update presented by Rob Lowden, MS, executive associate dean and chief information officer

The school’s new Office of Technology Affairs, officially launched in April, now includes more than 110 professional IT staff members within the school. The staff is responsible for maintaining more than 7,500 devices and ensuring “they are the enablers they are intended to be,” Lowden said.

He highlighted several initiatives and services intended to better serve faculty, staff and learners:

  • A 24/7 help desk launched this summer, providing around-the-clock service to members of the IU School of Medicine community supported by CAITS (Clinical Affairs IT Services). Plans are being developed to expand the service to other departments served by the Office of Technology Affairs.
  • Smarter computer configurations enable new desktops and laptops to start up five times faster than older versions.
  • The planned expansion of eduroam to IU Health facilities later this year will facilitate seamless Wi-Fi access between IU and IU Health buildings without having to log in with different network ID’s and passphrases.
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Karen Spataro

Karen Spataro served as director of the Indiana University School of Medicine Office of Strategic Communications from 2018-2020. She is now the Chief Communications Officer at Riley Children's Foundation.
The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.