July 13, 2001

Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance focuses on communication

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Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance focuses
on communication

Communication was pinpointed as the key area of concern following a recent retreat of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance. People knew about the Alliance, but did not know enough about specific initiatives and results. This lack of knowledge has impacted the perception of value and progress of the Alliance.

“Communication was seen as the most important thing to stress to the faculty, staff and public,” said Dr. Clifton K. Meador, executive director of the Alliance.

The solution, approved by the Alliance Steering Committee recently, involved the increase of communication in all aspects of the Alliance. More information will be included in the Alliance’s newsletter and Web site; all parties agreed to respond to Alliance requests within one or two business days; e-mail was chosen as the primary communication method in the absence of face-to-face meetings; and the Alliance would be placed as an agenda item at all official meetings of both institutions.

The Steering Committee is comprised of Vanderbilt’s Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, Dean Steven G. Gabbe, Dean Colleen Conway-Welch, and Norman B. Urmy. Meharry’s committee members are Dr. John E. Maupin, Danetta Butler, Dr. Anna Epps, and Dr. Harold Thompson.

Communication was not the only area seen as important for the enhancement of the Alliance. Various work groups were established at the retreat to present recommendations to the Steering Committee to improve the Alliance.

Another major recommendation from the work groups was the creation of a common calendar for undergraduate medical education for both insitutions.

With this recommendation, the undergraduate medical education work group lobbied for common definitions of expectations of responsibility and evaluation of clerkships; the review of clinical skills assessment program at MMC; complete assessment of core clerkship needs and opportunities; and assessment of pre-clinical needs and opportunities.

Following are the other work group’s recommendations approved by the committee:

•Post-Graduate Medical Education/Residencies – Appoint post-graduate work group; appoint ad-hoc committee to define joint family medicine programs; explore residency models for all departments.

•Informatics and Libraries – Develop an informatics center at Meharry/Metro Nashville General Hospital, including academic/departmental status at Meharry Medical College that centrally supports teaching, research and clinical care.

•Biomedical Research and Training, Grant Management and Contracting – Identify and recommend to the Steering Committee three areas of clinical research in which the Alliance can have a high impact and create novel recruitment paradigm for recruiting future faculty scientists.

•Institute for Community Health/Chronic Disease Management – Develop institute infrastructure by identifying leadership; name MMC co-director; appoint internal Steering Committee; fund an administrative support person; and develop budget and financial plan.

•Cultural Transformation – Develop measurable outcomes of cultural transformation; enhance communication including annual multicultural festival; develop leadership training program.

Both academic institutions agree on the value of the Alliance and acknowledge the numerous advances as a direct result of the partnership.

“Meharry Medical Center was suffering from its inability to adjust to the consequences of segregation and very little support,” Maupin told the audience at the retreat. “I knew we needed a partner. Dr. Jacobson was very receptive and together we asked for the Board’s approval.

“I want to set a new standard of excellence, a new plateau distinguishing and sustaining us. It is the right thing to do. It is a mission, not a business plan.”

Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs at Vanderbilt, agreed that the Alliance is a momentous tool for Meharry and Vanderbilt.

“In my past experiences, access to caring for the underserved of the community became very important to me,” said Jacobson, also speaking at the retreat. “When Dr. Maupin and I met and shared our dreams, there was an instantaneous click. We knew we could overcome our problems.

“I knew it was important to address the issue of diversity on our campus and the Alliance could be the catalyst. We have the same missions. Together we can get through the current turmoil of health care.”