November 14, 2014

Vanderbilt University and Medical Center Announce Steps to Strengthen Future

Today, Vanderbilt University announced the institution is embarking on a process to re-configure VUMC as a not-for-profit academic medical center that is financially distinct from Vanderbilt University. The two organizations will remain tightly woven together by mission, academic programs, and the respected Vanderbilt name.

Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs, will lead the reconfigured VUMC, and will also continue to serve as dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

“After very careful analysis we are pursuing this to enhance our capacity to flourish in a rapidly consolidating health care delivery environment, while continuing to support the many amazing aspects of Vanderbilt that distinguish us from our peers. We believe this is the ideal way forward to enhance our future,” Balser said. “Across our campus we enjoy exceptionally close ties that are unique within academia and are fully committed to protecting this important aspect of our institution.”

The move will give the Medical Center increased financial independence while preserving and growing the institution’s longstanding history of collaboration that has resulted in Vanderbilt’s excellence in research, education and health care.

The primary goal of the restructuring, which was the result of a yearlong study by the Vanderbilt University Board of Trust, is to provide the Medical Center with a greater ability to adapt to health care’s rapidly changing financial environment. Currently the Medical Center is among the few entirely embedded within a university’s legal and financial structure, with the same governing board.

“Fundamental changes in U.S. health care economics require us to re-assess this structure,” Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos said today in his message to Vanderbilt faculty, staff and medical students. “As VUMC continues to grow in excellence, it must adopt management structures and practices that enhance its ability to act nimbly and more independently in a rapidly changing health care environment.”

The restructuring process is expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete, and will be managed in a manner that assures no interruption in VUMC’s clinical or academic programs. It will not change compensation or benefits for VUMC staff, faculty appointments, or financial commitments to VUMC programs. Finally this is not, nor should it be construed as, an effort to alter staffing levels.

“Through financial restructuring, among other advantages, we will gain greater access to capital markets, allowing us to further invest in our people, programs and facilities,” Balser said. “[rquote]The structure we are pursuing is one that is proving to be successful in other regions of the country, and will be the standard for successful academic medical centers and major research universities in the future.[/rquote]”

Moving forward, VUMC will continue to fully support research and educational activities of the School of Medicine clinical departments, Graduate Medical Education (residencies and fellowships), and clinically related centers and institutes. At the same time, Vanderbilt University will play a greater role in supporting the M.D. and Ph.D.-granting programs of the Medical School, its basic science programs, as well as the academic programs in the School of Nursing.

“We have given every consideration toward restructuring to make sure the outstanding patient care services we deliver at VUMC will continue to flourish,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, M.D., deputy vice chancellor for Health Affairs and CEO of the Vanderbilt Health System. “It will also strengthen the growth potential of the Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network and its capacity to create new programs and services among affiliate members.”

The Medical Center, which will retain the name Vanderbilt University Medical Center, will be governed by a board with representation both from the Medical Center and University.

Answers to potential questions medical center faculty and staff may have about the restructuring are available.