December 12, 2003

Pinson named chief medical officer

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Dr. C. Wright Pinson

Pinson named chief medical officer

Dr. C. Wright Pinson, H. William Scott professor of Surgery and chair of the department, director of the Vanderbilt Transplant Center and chief of staff of Vanderbilt University Hospital, has been named associate vice chancellor for Clinical Affairs and chief medical officer effective Jan. 1. Pinson succeeds Dr. John S. Sergent, who stepped down in July to become vice chairman for education in the department of Medicine.

In announcing Pinson’s appointment, leaders said responsibilities of the chief medical officer role are being expanded to include operational improvement of both the hospital and clinic. Along with Executive Vice President for Clinical Affairs Norman Urmy and deans of the schools of medicine and nursing, Pinson will share responsibility for execution of strategic plans of the VUMC clinical enterprise. He’ll work with the Executive Committee of the Vanderbilt Medical Group and the Medical Center Medical Board.

“In order to flourish as a healthcare provider, we need to integrate clinical, operational and business expertise,” said Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs. “The expanded role of the chief medical officer combines all of these areas of expertise. And in Wright Pinson, we have someone who is first a great clinician, second a great administrator and, finally, has the well-honed business sense of a trained MBA. The highest level of quality, safety, service and financial performance can be achieved only if our clinicians and administrators work effectively as a team.”

Jacobson added, “I would like again to thank Dr. Sergent for his important contributions during his eight-year tenure as the Medical Center’s first chief medical officer. John was instrumental in taking us from a collection of clinical practice groups, with each unit having its own strategy and agenda, to an organized single multi-specialty group that has brought Vanderbilt to its current position as the most preferred health care provider in the region.”

Dr. Steven G. Gabbe, dean of the School of Medicine, said, “I am delighted Dr. Pinson has taken on this pivotal role for the Medical Center. In his role as chief medical officer, Dr. Pinson will not only influence how we provide care, but also how we train medical students, residents, and fellows.”

Pinson, who joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1990, said he was attracted to this new job by the opportunity to work on problems and opportunities that affect physicians, clinical teams and their patients in all corners of the VUMC clinical enterprise.

“This is a transformative role,” Pinson said. “I would summarize the job as operational improvement of the clinic and hospital, wherever we can provide better service to our patients and doctors. There are many operational issues that somebody needs to take responsibility for and focus on. Most everyone else who cares about these issues is too busy focusing on patient care, education and/or research to follow up optimally. Some of us have to take an interest in focusing on common problem solving for the whole group practice.”

Pinson said that in the near term one of his major priorities will be completion of the improvement projects that emerged in the clinical enterprise retreats hosted this summer by Vice Chancellor Jacobson, projects such as reducing unwanted variability of treatment and testing, managing discharge time, optimizing inpatient capacity, improving OR patient throughput, and enhancing outpatient productivity.

Other responsibilities of the associate vice chancellor for Clinical Affairs and chief medical officer include participation in strategic planning, oversight for clinic operations, and helping to represent physicians and the hospital in contracting efforts and other matters.

“In this new role I think it will be important to continue to participate in research, clinic and hospital activities just as all the other practitioners do,” Pinson said.

He will continue his clinical practice one day per week and maintain his liver transplant outcomes research group. Pinson said he will give up his posts of chair of the department of General Surgery, chief of Hepatobiliary Surgery and Liver Transplant, and chief of staff of Vanderbilt University Hospital. He will remain surgical director of the Vanderbilt Transplant Center.

Pinson holds an undergraduate degree in physics and a master’s in business administration from the University of Colorado. He is a 1980 graduate of the Vanderbilt School of Medicine. He took his general surgery training at the University of Oregon and completed fellowships in cardiovascular physiology, gastrointestinal surgery and transplantation at Oregon, Lahey Clinic and Harvard.

Pinson is president of the American Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association and is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American College of Physician Executives.