June 26, 2024

State of the Department of Medicine address highlights tremendous growth 

Department of Medicine clinicians see patients in 19 counties across Middle Tennessee as well as the surrounding region. There were 86,096 outpatient visits for fiscal year 2024, an increase of more than 25,000 visits over fiscal year 2023.

Department of Medicine division directors and award recipients gather after the State of the Department address in Langford Auditorium. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Jane Freedman, MD, professor of Medicine and interim chair of the Department of Medicine, delivered the annual State of the Department address on June 20, highlighting those who form the department and celebrating major achievements in the past year.  

Reflecting on the various leadership transitions within the department, as well as the tremendous growth the department has seen this year, the theme Freedman chose for her State of the Department address was “growth and transformation.”  

Jane Freedman, MD (photo by Susan Urmy)

“This year kicks off an incredible year of growth for the Department of Medicine, from the increasing size of our training programs, a record-breaking research year and the opening of larger clinical spaces both here on campus and throughout the region,” said Freedman, the Gladys Parkinson Stahlman Professor of Cardiovascular Research. “This year will be like no other in the department. These changes will be transformative, certainly leading to new challenges, but also leading to new opportunities both here and in the region — new clinical programs, innovative research, new educational ideas. And all of these will be nourished by our partnerships and collaborations.” 

Freedman thanked departmental leadership for their contributions over the past year and talked about the composition of the department. It’s currently comprised of 1,034 faculty members over 13 divisions, the largest of which is General Internal Medicine and Public Health at 26%. The department is made up of 53% women and 47% men and 9.2% self-identified as underrepresented in medicine. “Although we’d like to see these numbers grow, we have had an increase since 2021 when we had 7.8% underrepresented in medicine,” Freedman said.  

There are also 554 advanced practice providers in the Department of Medicine — 33% are managed by a department division and 67% are credentialed through the Department of Medicine. They are distributed through 11 of the department’s 13 divisions with General Internal Medicine and Public Health having 280 of them.  

Department of Medicine clinicians see patients in 19 counties across Middle Tennessee as well as the surrounding region. There were 86,096 outpatient visits for FY 2024, an increase of more than 25,000 visits over FY 2023. 

Freedman said there were 70 faculty promotions over the past year, with 15 promoted to full professors. Seventy-eight new faculty members were also welcomed to the department. “We are delighted to have you here. I expect with the tower opening and all the growth, we will see a marked increase in this number next year and the years beyond,” she said. 

It was also an “incredibly strong year” in philanthropy with $25.8 million in total gifts, a more than $2 million increase from FY 2023. This year’s gifts included a family donation to establish a directorship, over $500,000 to the Critical Illness, Brain Dysfunction and Survivorship Center, a $500,000 family commitment to research in the Division of Cardiology and a family commitment for research, education and innovation in celiac disease, including a directorship.  

Video featuring faculty members discussing transformative work in the Department of Medicine.

Freedman also shared a video with faculty members talking about the transformative work that has taken place in the department this year. It highlighted the NIH ECHO (Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes) study; the NIH-funded V-FIRST (Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation) program, an initiative that seeks to build a thriving, diverse scientific faculty and a sustainable culture of inclusive excellence that enables high-impact scientific discoveries; DOMAIN, the Department of Medicine AI Network, which will allow for focusing more on the care of the patient and less on documentation in taking care of patients; several initiatives within the Center for Digital Genomic Medicine; and efforts to improve awareness and diagnosis of celiac disease in the Southeast. 

Freedman talked about the department’s research highlights, including its first-ever ranking as No. 1 in NIH funding at $266 million, a notable increase from last year, and she listed many research awards given to faculty over the past year. 

Dedicated to training the next generation of leaders, the department’s training programs are comprised of 558 trainees, including 259 clinical and postdoctoral fellows, 151 residents and 148 graduate students. 

“We are already one of the largest Departments of Medicine in the country, and to grow on top of that is fairly daunting,” Freedman said. “You don’t go on to new things and have new challenges and new excitement unless you embrace the growth. I think it brings it home to the patients so they can get the combined care they need at the moment they need it. That’s what drives me.” 

She recognized new leaders in the department, those departing, faculty receiving awards and those who received directorships, and also remembered some of the Department of Medicine’s notable losses over the past year — John Newman, MD, and James Snell Jr., MD, from Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care; and David Robertson, MD, from Clinical Pharmacology. “Their contributions to Vanderbilt will always be remembered.”