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Chair of Medicine shares good news – and a story

Jun. 15, 2017, 10:32 AM

Nancy Brown, M.D., delivered the annual State of the Department of Medicine address. (photo by Steve Green)

Nancy J. Brown, M.D., chair and physician-in-chief of the Department of Medicine in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, began her annual State of the Department address last week in Langford Auditorium with a bumper crop of good news:

  • This year’s incoming interns hail from several top medical schools around the country, and 23 have been inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha national medical honor society;
  • Women and underrepresented minorities make up an increasing percentage of the department’s faculty, which currently exceeds 800 members;
  • Efforts are underway to reduce observed-over-expected mortality and the fragmentation of care, and improve patients’ overall experience are showing significant results; and
  • In the 2016 federal fiscal year the department ranked third among departments of medicine nationwide in research funding from the National Institutes of Health, with a diverse research portfolio that totaled $161 million.

A national Scientific Advisory Board has been formed to advise the department on working with industry and foundations and capitalizing on faculty members’ intellectual property. The board will meet for the first time in two weeks, Brown said.

Brown ended her talk by showing a photo of Andre Churchwell, M.D., senior associate dean for Diversity Affairs, standing in front of an exhibit in the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

The exhibit honors his father, the late Robert Churchwell, the first African-American reporter hired by a major Southern newspaper, the Nashville Banner, in 1950. “This is an important story,” Brown said.

“Everybody in this room has a story. Some of you are the first in your family to get a college education. Some of you have recently become citizens. Some of you come from a long line of outstanding clinicians …

“Our patients also have stories,” she continued. “ … I would encourage you to go forward over the next year and ask people about their stories. It will enhance our care of each other and our care of our patients.”

Brown also encouraged faculty members to make teaching and mentoring a high priority. “We all stand on the shoulders of others,” she said, “and we give back to them by giving to the next generation.”

Following Brown’s address, awards for teaching, scholarship and other accomplishments were given to faculty members, fellows and residents in each of the department’s academic divisions. About 450 people attended the address and awards ceremony.

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