September 20, 2002

Brock named VCH Surgeon-in-Chief

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Brock named VCH Surgeon-in-Chief

Dr. John W. Brock III, director of Pediatric Urology and professor of Urology, has been named Surgeon-in-Chief for Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital (VCH) after an extensive search. Brock will be the first surgeon-in-chief in the history of VCH.

“I feel very fortunate that we were able to get John Brock to take the position as the first surgeon-in-chief of Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital,” said Dr. Daniel Beauchamp, John L. Sawyers Chair in Surgery. “He was selected after a national search. We spoke with a number of highly qualified candidates, but John was clearly the best choice.”

The position signifies the new growth within pediatrics and more specifically, the process of separating pediatric services that will be contained within the new hospital from the existing medical center. The surgeon-in-chief will also be charged with not just managing pediatric surgical services but growing it.

Since the new surgeon-in-chief will play such a pivotal role in the evolution of the new pediatric organizational structure, the search committee reviewed many candidates from both the Vanderbilt community and across the country.

“The search committee looked at a tremendous number of people and were contacted by some of the leading pediatric surgeons in the country,” said Dr. Jay Deshpande, professor of Pediatrics and Anesthesiology, and chair of the search committee. “However, I am delighted that we selected Dr. Brock.”

For Dr. Arnold Strauss, James C. Overall Professor of Pediatrics and Chair of the department, Brock’s reputation as a pediatric surgeon and his commitment to research were very appealing attributes.

“We’re very excited to have Dr. Brock as new surgeon-in-chief,” said Strauss. “His record of accomplishments through development of a nationally known clinical and research program in pediatric urology is a model.”

Brock, who had been serving as interim surgeon-in-chief, began his career at Vanderbilt 11 years ago when Dr. Jay Smith offered him the opportunity to start the pediatric urology division. A former Vanderbilt resident who had chosen a career in private practice, Brock was pleased by Smith’s offer and took the job. Much like the newly created surgeon-in-chief role, Brock’s position and the division of pediatric urology were new concepts. The division now boasts three full-time faculty members, a full-time laboratory supported by a NIH grant, and has this year begun a fellowship in pediatric urology.

Brock’s responsibilities will include coordinating the operating rooms in the new Children’s Hospital as well as making sure that the suite of operating rooms is as efficient and cost effective as possible. Additionally, Brock has outlined several goals for himself that he feels are key.

“First, it will always be my mission to help ensure the highest quality pediatric surgical care for all the children for our region,” Brock said. “This is made all the more simple by the fact that we have quality children’s surgeons at VCH that share that goal.”

Another important objective for Brock is to continue to develop the role of the academic pediatric surgeon at VCH. He recognizes the value of the surgeons that are on staff at Vanderbilt and is committed to understanding issues they may face.

“I want the job of an academic pediatric surgeon at Vanderbilt to be the most exciting and rewarding of any place in the country,” Brock explained. “This job should be so good that it would be very difficult for anyone to ever want to leave.”

As part of this commitment, Brock understands that there may still be departments that need manpower to improve their clinical access. He plans to address this critical need.

Fostering basic science research endeavors with the model already established by Beauchamp is an objective for Brock as well. He feels that based on Beauchamp’s model and with the commitment to VCH made by Dr. Harry Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs, there is no reason why the pediatric surgical subspecialties at Vanderbilt should not be among the best in the country.

VCH should be training the next generation of pediatric subspecialties, says Brock, meaning that education must always be a priority and top consideration. The breadth of this education spans from third-year medical students who can become excited about a career in a pediatric surgical subspecialty to the more formal training of pediatric surgical fellows. Brock feels that the fellows will be the legacy of VCH and plans to work with departments to develop this type of education.

Brock also outlined his strategy for cultivating relationships with community surgeons who care for children. Operating room capacity has been a challenge as has been the availability of anesthesiologists. The opening of the new hospital means increased capacity, an exciting development and one that should entice surgeons from the community to VCH.

“I am sure that after surgeons see the facility and understand the support services provided for their patients’ care, they will want to operate exclusively at Children’s. I am committed to providing access and opportunity to make that happen,” Brock said.

Ramping up surgical capacity is not just on the drawing board for the new hospital. Currently, an aggressive recruitment plan is being outlined to hire anesthesiologists and Beauchamp has committed another room in Medical Center East, allowing for more pediatric cases to be done at Vanderbilt. With more anesthesiologists, the new room could be operational by January.

However, for Brock, his primary mission is still to be a children’s surgeon. One of his conditions for accepting the position was that he could continue in the role of surgeon as well as administrator. He feels that not only does it keep him on the “front lines” and aware of what surgeons are facing each day, it also allows him to continue to care for kids and their families.

This dedication and Brock’s ability to bring people together are two of the aspects that most impressed Deshpande.

“John Brock is an enthusiastic advocate for efficient and patient-oriented care,” Desphande said. “During his role as interim chief, he was a consensus and team builder.”

Brock realizes the road ahead of him will be bumpy, but he feels his navigation will be successful due in large part to the management team of VCH. He credits the entrepreneurial spirit and the enthusiasm of people like Jim Shmerling, Strauss, Martha Rowland, Terrell Smith, and Chris Algren as being important reasons to feel optimistic about all of the changes occurring in pediatrics.

VCH CEO Jim Shmerling is excited about Brock’s new position and feels he will be an asset to the administration of the hospital.

“I’m thrilled that John Brock has accepted the Pediatric surgeon-in-chief position. He will be an outstanding advocate for the pediatric surgical community as well as for the Children’s Hospital,” said Shmerling. “Dr. Brock is a skilled surgeon, an outstanding academician and overall role model for us all. I am honored that he will be joining the Children’s Hospital management team.”

Brock is grateful to doctors like Beauchamp and Smith for their roles in his career and looks forward to his new responsibilities and the challenges that he will face as he pioneers yet another role.

“I’m very fortunate to have been given this opportunity,” said Brock. “I’m honored, humbled, and thrilled to be asked to do this job and am anxious to begin as I know it will be both challenging and successful.”