April 18, 2008

Brady comes home to lead graduate medical education

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Donald Brady, M.D., left, talks with residents, from left, Cynthia Shephard, M.D., Jennifer Green, M.D., and Andrew Vranic, M.D. (photo by Neil Brake)

Brady comes home to lead graduate medical education

When author Thomas Wolfe said “You can't go home again,” he wasn't referring to Donald Brady, M.D., Vanderbilt University School of Medicine's new associate dean of Graduate Medical Education (GME).

It took 15 years, but Brady is back at his alma mater, leading resident and fellow education at the school where he trained as a resident.

“Donald is black and gold through and through,” said VUSM Dean Steven Gabbe, M.D. “He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Vanderbilt, and he was a resident here as well. There's no one better qualified to understand Vanderbilt's strengths and to take those strengths to even greater levels. I'm thrilled to have him back home.”

After receiving a B.A. in mathematics and classical studies, Brady stayed at Vanderbilt for medical school and residency in internal medicine. He quickly formed close ties with the faculty.

“Donald was president of his medical school class, and when you met him you immediately found out why,” said John Sergent, M.D., vice chair for Education and Residency Program Director. “He was one of the most enthusiastic, interested people I've been around. The wonderful thing is that almost 20 years later he still has that same enthusiasm. We are very fortunate to have him leading our GME programs.”

In 1993, Brady's interest in indigent care led him to Emory's Grady Memorial Hospital. A Vanderbilt colleague played a role in Brady's move to Atlanta.

“I met Don when he was a senior resident,” said Andre Churchwell, M.D., Vanderbilt's associate dean for Diversity in Graduate Medical Education. “He told me he was looking to work in an inner city hospital. I put him in touch with the head of the Internal Medicine training program at Grady. The fact he is back here closes the loop.”

Brady rose through the ranks at Emory to become associate professor of Medicine, associate vice chair for Education, and co-director of Internal Medicine Residency. “Don was a spectacular mentor and teacher at Emory,” Churchwell said. “With his experience, Vanderbilt will be well served.”

When Brady returned for his 2006 medical school reunion, former classmate David Charles, M.D., Vanderbilt's assistant dean for Admissions, told Brady that VUSM's longtime director of resident education, Fred Kirchner Jr., was retiring.

“David asked me if I would have any interest in coming back,” Brady recalled from his new office in Light Hall. “I said, 'Sure, throw my name in the hat.' That's what led me to getting the call — a classmate from medical school ended up bringing me back.”

Although leaving Emory was hard, Brady said the offer to lead Vanderbilt resident education was too enticing to pass up. “It's an opportunity to move GME from where it had been successfully led for many years to a new level,” he said.

Brady's vision for graduate medical education comes at the perfect time. National medical education and licensing boards are mandating a move to “competency-based education.” This new system focuses on outcomes rather than process.

“We need to think hard about whether or not we are doing all we can to best train our physicians,” Brady said. “Are we satisfied with our outcomes? If not, what will it take to reach that goal? It's always beneficial to take a fresh look at these questions.”

Brady notes that Vanderbilt has many advantages, including outstanding research programs, opportunities to lead in competency-based education with the Center for Experiential Learning and Assessment and a strong interest in compassionate care and doctor-patient communication.

“Graduate medical education is one step in a long progression of education,” Brady explained. “It's this sense of learning doesn't end. It's exciting to be a part of that.”