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Message from Dean Richardson: The two sides of change - opportunity and anxiety

Mark RichardsonDear OHSU School of Medicine community:

In a recent presentation, one of our faculty members said the OHSU School of Medicine is pretty good at dealing with change. It got a laugh from his audience but he was serious. He said that after many visits to academic health centers around the country, he is convinced OHSU is well above average in handling change and innovation.

I agree with him. During the past few years we’ve demonstrated that capacity. Part of this stems from our collegial environment and willingness to listen to one another about new ideas and novel ways to meet our missions. And now, more than ever, this attribute is crucial as we become “next-generation” leaders in academic medicine.

I’ve written and talked with you about our need to evolve in many venues and on many occasions. It’s important we continue this conversation to ensure that the tremendous potential in change is never overshadowed by concerns or fears. Taking charge and directing the outcome is our task.

For several years, leaders throughout academic medicine have been calling for a fundamental re-energizing of medical schools. Why? Because academic medicine is uniquely positioned to meet many of the pressing needs of our society – through accelerated translational research, practice-based comparative effectiveness research, fulfilling the promise of genomics and personalized medicine, educating the types of health care professionals our communities need from us, and so much more.

From my perspective, we must adapt to and shape our evolution in ways that support and enable faculty and student success. That is our highest priority. Supporting that success also means ensuring our long-term financial stability. In the fast-changing external environment with many unknowns related to health care reform legislation and continuing uncertainty in the economy – two examples among many – we must be deliberate and strategic in all of our undertakings.

At the OHSU School of Medicine, we have successfully implemented significant administrative reorganizations, including clinical integration, responded effectively to the global financial crisis and recruited top new talent to OHSU eager to participate in and extend the reach of our missions. Our investigator community has made important discoveries and worked hard to increase awards to OHSU. This enduring reputation for faculty excellence and success has catalyzed significant new philanthropic gifts.

Now, OHSU is further engaged in discovering innovative ways to adapt across the spectrum of our operations and missions. We are also planning for how to most effectively organize the Knight Cancer Institute and developing strategic plans for our research mission. Farther out, we will redesign our educational curriculum to meet the needs pressed upon us. We will continue to undertake ever more rigorous streamlining of administrative processes to enable continued investments in faculty professional development and ensure that faculty compensation is benchmarked with similar institutions.

As we move forward, let’s all continue talking openly about both the opportunities and concerns inherent in change. Our agility will serve us well in the coming years. This is how the School of Medicine will continue to have the biggest impact possible on human health which is – and always will be – the goal of everything we do.

Thank you for everything you do for OHSU and Oregon.

Best regards,

Dean Richardson's signature

Mark Richardson, MD, MBA
Dean, OHSU School of Medicine
President, Faculty Practice Plan


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