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Spring Faculty meeting explores VUMC’s future course

May. 26, 2015, 2:00 PM

Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., speaks at last week's Spring Faculty Meeting. (photo by Anne Rayner)

The financial reorganization and separation of Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center into separate nonprofit entities remains on schedule to occur in early 2016.

Most of the Medical Center’s 19,000 employees will not notice anything different, except perhaps that the name of their employer on their paystub has changed, the Medical Center’s leader, Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., said during the Spring Faculty Meeting on Tuesday.

In fact, while the Medical Center and University will have separate financial and Human Resources offices, VUMC will continue to offer faculty and staff benefits as usual through open enrollment this year.

“We don’t want anyone who is already working here to feel any impact from the change,” Balser said to faculty and staff who attended the meeting.

Balser said he will keep his title as dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. But his other title, vice chancellor for Health Affairs, will be retired, and will be replaced by President and CEO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

During his 35-minute presentation, prior to the annual faculty awards ceremony, Balser reiterated the reasons for the reorganization.

It will give the Medical Center the financial and administrative flexibility to build its network of affiliated hospitals into an entity that can thrive amidst the challenges and uncertainty of the new health care economy, he said.

“In order to control our own destiny as an academic health care system we have to be able to further invest in our programs on campus, and put glue into our network.”

In the academic affiliation agreement that is being forged, the Medical Center will govern all clinical programs and clinically related departments, research in clinical departments and centers, VUMC buildings and residency and clinical fellowship programs along with the infrastructure supporting these programs and facilities. The University will continue to govern all degree-granting programs, as well as the School of Nursing, and the School of Medicine basic science departments and basic science centers.

“The affiliation agreement will only strengthen what is already a very strong and vibrant teaching, research and patient care enterprise,” Balser said.

The number of applications to the School of Medicine has doubled in the past decade, to more than 6,800 this year. Seventy percent of Vanderbilt’s medical school graduates match into the top 25 residency programs in the country.

“We’re solidly in the top 10 in most measures when it comes to our M.D. and Ph.D. students,” he said.

Vanderbilt faculty members are equally impressive, ranking 12th in the country in the frequency of their publications being cited by researchers elsewhere.

Balser also cited the significant expansion of VU and VUMC’s combined technology transfer efforts, and the burgeoning number of faculty members elected to prestigious national scientific organizations as examples of the Medical Center’s upward trajectory.

When it comes to Vanderbilt’s commitment to advancing health care in this country, “We need to do everything possible to solidify our progress in personalized health and make our advances ever more strongly felt across the region and the world,” he said.

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