April 18, 2008

Meeting sets stage for next step in institution’s plan to impact society

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Harry Jacobson, M.D., right, talks with Joel Lee at this week’s talk show-inspired Leadership Development Institute.

Meeting sets stage for next step in institution’s plan to impact society

At this week's Leadership Development Institute, no Medical Center management results were scrutinized, no slides about hospital patient mortality rates, research funding or test scores of incoming medical school students were shown, and no one said much about organizational culture change.

Instead of the familiar round of vital Vanderbilt Medical Center management concerns, participants at this LDI were asked to stop and consider Vanderbilt's increasing stature and its potential to impact society. Their task was to begin envisioning the organization's next decade and begin setting long-term organizational goals.

In attendance at Memorial Gym were 750 to 800 VMC managers and faculty leaders. They had heard about this far-reaching planning exercise, known as Vision 2020, on April 3 when they attended the State of the Medical Center Address given by Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs.

“We've had a superb decade, but what do we do now? That's the question we're asking with Vision 2020,” Jacobson said then. His address couched Vision 2020 in terms of how activity at VMC impacts society. To guide discussion, he further suggested considering VMC in terms of innovation, transmission of knowledge and work results.

At the start of the LDI, Joel Lee, associate vice chancellor for Communications, conducted an on-stage interview with Jacobson. In this conversation, Jacobson recalled that he decided to become a doctor at age 8, when he saw his mother's gratitude after he was treated for an infection by a pediatrician during a house call.

“You can lose sight of the fact that the reason you got into this to begin with is that you saw someone give fundamental help to another human being. With Vision 2020, we've decided to re-ask ourselves why we're here,” Jacobson said.

“What are the things this Medical Center wants to do as a big unit that we can all commit to?” he asked the audience.

Jacobson posed several potential impact avenues, including whether the Medical Center should commit to reduction targets for obesity and infant mortality in Tennessee, whether VMC should commit to cracking a cure for autism, whether doctors, nurses and other health care workers should be trained at VMC in teams instead of in separate programs.

Jacobson and Lee were joined in the discussion by, among others, Steven Gabbe, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine, Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., dean of the School of Nursing, Kevin Churchwell, M.D., CEO of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, and Marilyn Dubree, R.N., VMC chief Nursing officer. Their discussion ranged from training students to work in a more collaborative practice environment, to establishing Vanderbilt satellite locations within community hospitals, to changes in nursing practice and the continuing challenge of recruitment and retention in a competitive labor market for nurses.

The Medical Center leadership team will sort and prioritize long-term goals this summer and establish task forces by fall. Work toward Vision 2020 goals will start next spring.

All members of the VMC community are invited to join the Vision 2020 discussion. Visit the blog at www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/blogs/atthecenter.