June Pulse President’s Corner

June 22, 2010

Office of the President and
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs
John B. Connally Building
301 Tarrow, 7th Floor
College Station, TX 77840-7896

June 25, 2010

Dear HSC Community,

Hard to believe summer is here! It’s been an outstanding year so far for the Texas A&M Health Science Center, and more exciting events are right around the corner.

The first building on our new Bryan campus – the Health Professions Education Building (HPEB) – will open in July, followed by the Medical Research and Education Building in spring 2011. Be sure to mark your calendars for Thursday, July 22.

There will be a formal campus dedication. This event will celebrate both public and private partnerships to enhance health professions education, biomedical research, and clinical care within the Brazos Valley. Construction on the first HSC clinic building will begin later this year. It will house the Texas Brain and Spine Institute, a Mary Crowley Cancer Research Center, Blinn College programs and additional HSC programs. In addition, the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents will host its regular meeting on our new campus July 22-23. We’re looking forward to occupying the new campus, which will provide cutting-edge medical training and health professions education vital to caring for the people in the Brazos Valley and throughout Texas.

The physical growth of our HSC campuses has been equaled academically, as we recently completed five commencement ceremonies. After four years of studies, 74 students in the inaugural class of the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy received their Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree. Coinciding with the ceremony was the birthday of the late State Rep. Irma Lerma Rangel. Born May 15, 1931, in Kingsville, Rangel was dedicated and committed to focusing on minority and education issues and instrumental in bringing the first professional school to South Texas.

The first 21 students in the “2+2” program of the College of Nursing walked across the stage to receive their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) degree. It’s the second graduating class for the college, as 19 students in the accelerated program obtained their degrees in December. There were also commencements for the College of Medicine, Baylor College of Dentistry, School of Rural Public Health and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Congratulations to all our graduates!

Meanwhile, our Rural and Community Health Institute (RCHI) recently was awarded $5,279,970 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to form a Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center (REC). The award is part of $35,709,106 provided to establish RECs in four Texas regions. These centers will provide technical assistance, guidance and information on best practices for health care practitioners to become meaningful users of electronic health records.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center is continuing to develop interdisciplinary programs that utilize the skills and talents of all our academic units to benefit communities locally, regionally and internationally.

The HSC and Texas A&M University collaborated this spring semester in a student competition designed to protect patient health and safety. The students tackled medication reconciliation – a process to reduce medication errors and patient harm associated with those errors. Based out of the Rural and Community Health Institute, four interdisciplinary HSC and TAMU teams, including students from the College of Nursing and Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy at the HSC, and Mays Business School and Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M, competed with each other.

Earlier this month, I joined nearly 30 HSC faculty and students from our colleges for a trip to Quesimpuco, a remote village in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia desperately in need of basic health care, education and supplies. The College of Nursing’s Dr. Regina Bentley, who organized a similar trip to Ecuador last year, led preparations for this interdisciplinary medical service-learning trip, and it’s not her first to Bolivia. In fact, she met her husband there, and they married at the church they helped build!

Coming this fall, we’ll be launching our first interprofessional course. Directed by the College of Medicine’s Dr. Alan Xenakis, students from nursing and medicine will participate in lectures and case-based studies on ethics. Health science centers nationwide are considering implementing interprofessional programs, but we’re among the first to act.

Finally, I’d like to update you on a couple of dean searches.

In our College of Medicine, four candidates – Dr. Thomas (Sam) Shomaker of The University of Texas System, Dr. Donald DiPette of the University of South Carolina, Dr. William Rayburn of the University of New Mexico and Dr. Michael Bungo of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston – have given seminars and visited with administrators, faculty, staff and students. Final interviews are scheduled for mid- to late July in hopes of having a new dean by late fall. Thanks to Dr. Edward Sherwood for serving as interim dean during this process.

The initial process has begun to find a dean for Baylor College of Dentistry, as Dr. James Cole is stepping down. Dr. Cole first joined the college faculty in 1977 and even served as interim president of the HSC from Oct. 1, 2000, to Dec. 31, 2001. He has been a terrific asset for us, and we wish him well in his future endeavors.

Have a great summer and rest up for what promises to be another busy year, starting as early as July for some!

Best regards,
Nancy W. Dickey, M.D.
President, Texas A&M Health Science Center
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, Texas A&M University System

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