October 25, 2002

On target — Jacobson stresses VUMC’s gains at Fall Faculty Meeting

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Dr. Harry R. Jacobson highlights VUMC’s recent national recognition. (photo by Dana Johnson)

On target — Jacobson stresses VUMC’s gains at Fall Faculty Meeting

Funding for research, income from patient care, and national recognition have all increased for VUMC, Dr. Harry R. Jacobson told the faculty assembled for the fall meeting in Light Hall on Monday.

The hospital and clinic have critical financial targets for fiscal year 2003 and, according to Jacobson, VUMC is on track to meet those targets despite growing TennCare volumes. “This is very impressive,” said Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs. “We’ve not had as strong a start before. Last year, we had a very slow start. This year, with higher financial goals, we got a great start and are almost exactly where we should be. This is in large part because our hospital admissions and clinic visits are at or ahead of target. We continue to be the No. 1 health care provider that Middle Tennesseans seek.”

Patient admissions rose 3.5 percent from 2001 to 2002 (31,852 to 32,960) with an anticipated increase of 4.8 percent in 2003 (34,546). Emergency visits increased 9.5 percent from 2001 to 2002 (63,999 to 70,048) with a budgeted 7.1 percent increase for 2003 (75,055). Clinic visits also marked an increase from 2001 to 2002, climbing 7.2 percent (631,172 to 676,909) with an anticipated jump to 707,070 or 4.5 percent in 2003. Surgeries were up 4.3 percent from 2001 to 2002 (26,549 to 27,678).

“On the clinical enterprise side, we’ve got a great start this year,” he told the group. “We need to keep the momentum going.”

Vanderbilt’s momentum also continues to increase in terms of national recognition. Vanderbilt University Hospital was one of 17 hospitals named to the “honor roll” of the nation’s best hospitals in the 2002 rankings by U.S. News and World Report. This is the first time in the 13-year history of the magazine’s annual survey that Vanderbilt University Hospital and The Vanderbilt Clinic scored in the top tier. Vanderbilt was the only hospital in Tennessee named to the “honor roll.” Ten of 14 major specialties at Vanderbilt were also ranked in the top 50 in the magazine’s ranking: cancer, digestive disorders, hormonal diseases, gynecology, orthopaedics, pulmonary disease, rheumatology, otolaryngology, urology, kidney.

Thirty-nine Vanderbilt doctors were also recognized in “America’s Top Doctors” in 2002. The 39 Vanderbilt doctors constituted the state’s majority as only 55 doctors were named to the group from Tennessee. Vanderbilt also had 198 doctors named “Best Doctors in America.”

Vanderbilt has not held the advantage on other local hospitals in all categories. The competing hospitals in Nashville have been more aggressive in increasing nursing salaries, according to Jacobson. Vanderbilt was also offering less money for shift differentials for nurses and lower experience increases.

To combat this issue, Vanderbilt has revised its compensation plan for nurses. The plan calls for an increase in the base pay rate based on years of experience; an increase in the shift differentials for the evening and at night; an increase in the pay range maximum; and, where appropriate, an increase in nurse manager and assistant manager salaries to market norm.

As steps are being taken to remain competitive for nursing staff, Vanderbilt’s research enterprise continues to flourish at an amazing rate, according to Jacobson.

A strategic plan launched in 1998 forecast $320 million for research by 2008. As of 2002, $238 million had been garnered, putting Vanderbilt two years ahead of schedule, Jacobson said. “I’m expecting $400 million to $500 million by 2008,” he said.

Vanderbilt is the third fastest growing program in the United States in terms of NIH funding growth at 18.19 percent between 1999 and 2001. Baylor and USCF were slightly ahead of Vanderbilt. In 2002 Vanderbilt’s NIH funding rose 28 percent from the previous year.

“My No. 1 priority is sufficient research space to grow,” Jacobson said. “We need to make our research enterprise the best it can be.”

Philanthropy for the Medical Center also continues to grow. More than $330 million has been raised through 2001 for the Campaign for Vanderbilt Medicine. Of that, $165 million has been designated for the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center; $103 million for the School of Medicine; $60 million for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital; and $4 million for the School of Nursing.

Dr. Steven A. Gabbe, dean of the School of Medicine, acknowledged the Master Clinical Teachers at the Medical Center.

Named to the group are: Drs. G. Waldon Garriss III, assistant professor of Medicine and Pediatrics; Joseph Gigante, assistant professor of Pediatrics; R. Michael Rodriguez, associate professor of Medicine; Corey M. Slovis, professor and Chair of Emergency Medicine; W. Anderson Spickard III, assistant professor of Medicine; John L. Tarpley, professor of Surgery; and John A. Zic, assistant professor of Medicine.

The program is designed to enhance medical education for the school’s third- and fourth-year students, to protect time for teaching, which too often takes a back seat to the faculty’s research and patient care demands, and to improve the teaching skills of VUSM faculty members, according to Gabbe.

Awards are for salary support of $50,000 per year for a maximum of three years. The accomplishments of the Master Clinical Teachers will be reviewed annually and funding continued if their performance is satisfactory. A Master Clinical Teacher may be re-nominated for the award at the end of the three-year period.

Future plans call for developing programs to support the school’s most outstanding basic science educators as well as faculty who contribute significantly to teaching house officers and clinical fellows.