March 15, 2012

ROUNDS: A message from the Vice Chancellor

Every week, through the pages of The Reporter and MyVUMC, we all receive timely information about the many exciting events taking place throughout the Medical Center. 

Yet I’m often asked, “what are you seeing in VUMC that moves you the most?” Or, “what are the things we’re all facing that keep you awake at night?”

Communication is a challenge for all families. Finding a time when Melinda and I and all three of our children can be in one place, at one time, and really talk requires an organizational effort approaching the first Apollo mission. So it’s not surprising that communicating regularly, in a meaningful way, with a large family of 21,000 staff, 3,000 faculty and 2,000 students is a truly formidable challenge. But at Vanderbilt we never shrink from challenges – we tackle them!

So I’m going to try something new – in addition to our yearly gathering at the State of the Medical Center and bi-weekly rounding throughout all VUMC clinic areas and departments, I’m initiating a column that will appear monthly in the Reporter and MyVUMC. Using a narrative approach, I hope to provide a more personal look at our extraordinary programs, complex challenges and wonderful people. I hope these brief anecdotes will prove to be a meaningful way to share more about what we experience in our work together at Vanderbilt.


Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs
Dean, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine


Over the coming year, I will write to you about how we are coping with our many environmental challenges, such as the federal budget deficit and health care reform. You will hear from me about our latest educational initiatives and about research breakthroughs that are changing the lives of patients.

But in this first column, I want to focus on rounding.

Walking around this Medical Center is just awe-inspiring. I always learn something new.

Like many of us, it’s easy for me to get bogged down with meetings – and of course, the never-ending email! Rounding pulls me directly into the Medical Center and its people and reminds me why we’re here. I am constantly amazed at the vast array of activities, happening every single day, that make Vanderbilt vibrant and important.

Executive Chief Nursing Officer Marilyn Dubree, MSN, R.N., right, talks with Kathryn Rapp, R.N., during a recent rounding visit at the Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital. (photo by Anne Rayner)

Executive Chief Nursing Officer Marilyn Dubree, MSN, R.N., right, talks with Kathryn Rapp, R.N., during a recent rounding visit at the Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital. (photo by Anne Rayner)

During these rounding sessions, I am joined by various members of the leadership team, including Marilyn Dubree, our executive chief nursing officer, and Dr. Wright Pinson, our deputy vice chancellor for Health Affairs.

Over the last 18 months, we’ve visited adult and children’s patient care areas, research programs, critical infrastructure service centers and educational programs. We visited Vanderbilt sites on the 21st Avenue campus, at One Hundred Oaks, Williamson County, and elsewhere.
We can never run out of incredible places to go and people to see.

It’s humbling to experience first-hand the important things happening at this Medical Center. At the Psychiatric Hospital we learned about the wonderful new Partial Hospitalization program that allows individuals to receive the best of psychiatric care during the day, and then return to the comfort of their homes at night.

And by visiting Labor and Delivery we learned how the team is managing a huge increase in newborn deliveries, approaching 4,200 babies this year, while serving as the region’s key referral center for mothers with high-risk pregnancies. We also sampled food from the fabulous new 24-7 “order in” menu for postpartum moms!

Mostly, I appreciate the opportunity to meet and talk with the people who work so hard every day to make Vanderbilt an extraordinary place. Look for us as we round in the coming weeks and months. I look forward to meeting you!