December 21, 2006

Year in Review 2006: Accolades, achievements abundant for VUMC

Featured Image

C. Wright Pinson, M.D., was among faculty and staff in the VUMC Emergency Operations Center during last April’s diaster preparedness exercise. The drill was halted in response to the violent storms on April 7.
Photo by Dana Johnson

C. Wright Pinson, M.D., was among faculty and staff in the VUMC Emergency Operations Center during last April’s diaster preparedness exercise. The drill was halted in response to the violent storms on April 7.
Photo by Dana Johnson

New signs, part of VUMC’s Wayfinding plan, dot the Medical Center campus.
Photo by Neil Brake

New signs, part of VUMC’s Wayfinding plan, dot the Medical Center campus.
Photo by Neil Brake

Editor’s note — the following, in no particular order, is a roundup of the news that made headlines at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 2006.

Magnet status

In November, VUMC was designated as a Magnet hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Magnet Recognition is a much sought-after distinction for health care institutions, which must satisfy a demanding set of criteria measuring the strength and quality of nursing. Magnet hospitals are known as places where nurses deliver excellent patient care and have a high level of job satisfaction.

Vanderbilt Prize

Nancy Andreasen, M.D., Ph.D., was selected as the recipient of the first “Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science,” an award established by Vanderbilt University School of Medicine to honor women who have made significant advances in the biological and biomedical sciences and have contributed positively to the mentorship of other women in science.

Andreasen, the Andrew H. Woods Chair of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and director of the Iowa Mental Health Clinical Research Center, is a renowned neuropsychiatrist, public servant, educator and mentor.

As the Vanderbilt Prize recipient, Andreasen received $25,000 and a scholarship was established in her name to support a promising M.D./Ph.D. candidate beginning her studies at Vanderbilt. This year's scholarship recipient is Mica Bergman from Pittsburgh. Andreasen also will serve on Bergman's thesis committee as a condition of the award.


VUMC's elevate initiative continued to build momentum during the year.

Supervisors held individual performance reviews with staff, presented as a new mid-year addition to VUMC's annual employee performance review cycle. VUMC departments mounted internal customer satisfaction surveys. Managers met with staff to discuss how to improve employee satisfaction. Approximately 850 managers and faculty leaders attended quarterly elevate Leadership Development Institute seminars.

Progress toward elevate goals was brisk. In fiscal 2006, the Medical Center managed to rank at or above the 50th percentile nationally for 117 of 130 clinical quality measures. The Medical Center has two goals for patient satisfaction scores associated with each of its seven ongoing patient surveys, and 10 of these 14 goals were achieved in fiscal 2006. VUMC hit its patient volume goals for fiscal 2006. And the balance sheet inched past the goal, coming in at $46.6 million.

Discovery Lecture

In September, VUMC launched a new lecture series that brought some of the top scientific minds in the country to campus.

The ongoing “Discovery Lecture Series” featured Nobel laureates and investigators who are members of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, or the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

“Our new Discovery Lecture Series is a strong indicator of Vanderbilt's growing stature in the international research community,” said Jeffrey Balser, M.D., Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for Research.

Third tower at VUH

State officials approved Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Certificate of Need (CON) application, paving the way for construction of a third bed tower to the main hospital.

The $234 million, 11-story tower will be built atop Vanderbilt University Hospital's Emergency Department, and would add a net of 141 additional acute-care beds as well as several new operating suites. Construction of the third bed tower is expected to be done in phases, with completion targeted for 2012.

The new tower would consist of eight patient care and two mechanical floors. The project also involves relocation and expansion of existing cardiac catheterization labs and cardiac “hybrid” operating rooms, relocation of a clinical research unit and the addition of 14 new operating suites.

Cardiology gains

In July, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Page-Campbell Cardiology Group at Saint Thomas officially joined forces to provide the most comprehensive services in the Midstate when the Page-Campbell practice, along with its staff, moved to the Vanderbilt Heart & Vascular Institute.

Celebrated by both groups, the merger is expected to place Vanderbilt in the top echelon of providers for cardiology, cardiac surgery and vascular services in the region. Also, in October, the institute welcomed eight new cardiologists, all of whom were previously employed by groups at Saint Thomas Hospital.

NIH ranking

VUMC maintained its position among the nation's top medical schools for National Institutes of Health funding for the fiscal year 2005, ranking 15th out of 123 medical schools.

VUMC received 586 awards totaling $244.2 million, an increase from $226.8 million in 2004. Although the overall rank did not change, the figures represent an increase of 32 awards and a 7.6 percent increase in total award amount from fiscal year 2004.

Additionally, over the past five years, VUMC's growth rate in NIH funding has also outpaced the growth of the top 25 medical schools in the country, with a growth rate of 17.8 percent from 2000 to 2005.

VUSN clinics

The School of Nursing's employer-based health clinic program enjoyed a strong year expanding to its sixth contract. Earlier in the year, VUSN added a clinic for McKendree Village employees and their dependents.

The program capped off the year by signing an agreement to provide nurse pracitioner care at six such clinics under the umbrella of the Clarksville-Montgomery School System and County Government, covering 6,300 employees and their dependants.

VUSN's employer-based clinics help offset some operating expenses for community clinics such as Vine Hill.

Institute of Medicine

VUMC faculty members Ellen Wright Clayton, M.D., J.D., and Randolph (Randy) Miller, M.D., and professor emeritus of Medicine Alastair J.J. Wood, M.B., Ch.B., were elected to the prestigious Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies in October.

Comprised of top health experts and life scientists, the IOM serves as an adviser to the nation to improve health. Clayton, Miller and Wood join some 1,584 IOM members, including 13 other Vanderbilt faculty members. Members are elected by a vote of current members.

Research award

Arnold Strauss, M.D., was named the 2006 recipient of the American Heart Association's Basic Science Research Award.

Strauss, chair of Pediatrics and medical director of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, accepted the award at the AHA Scientific Sessions in Chicago in November.

Strauss is the first physician from Vanderbilt to receive the award, and only the second pediatric cardiologist to be selected. He was chosen for his research that led to finding genetic defects that can cause sudden death in infants and children.

Employee satisfaction

In late March, 11,020 VUMC employees took the Vanderbilt employee satisfaction survey, filling in a questionnaire tailored for the Medical Center. This was the fourth survey of VUMC employee satisfaction, following surveys in 1999, 2001 and 2004. The participation rate among Medical Center employees was 81 percent, up from 63 percent in 2004.

The results showed that VUMC employees have grown more satisfied with their employment over the past two years.

“Every item showed higher scores compared to our 2004 survey,” said Allan Sterbinsky, a manager with the Department of Human Resources.

Postdoc development

Vanderbilt University was among the first institutions in the nation to implement the Individual Development Plan (IDP) for postdoctoral fellows.

The IDP is a communication tool aimed at improving the mentoring relationship between postdocs and their faculty advisers. It is a document, completed by the postdoctoral fellow and reviewed with his or her faculty mentor, that defines both short- and long-term goals and how to achieve them. It is intended to cover not just scientific goals, but also career development

SCCOR grant

A team of Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers will receive $16 million over the next five years to study why patients with diabetes and insulin resistance have a tendency to develop blood clots.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is funding Vanderbilt's Specialized Center of Clinically Oriented Research (SCCOR) program in Hemostatic and Thrombotic Diseases with nearly $3.2 million annually for five years.

Healthy Kids

Results were tallied of the first Healthy Kids 2025 electronic survey, distributed last fall to more than 28,000 employees at the State of Tennessee government, Metro Nashville government and Vanderbilt University.

Among the questions that generated surprising results was one that asked if parents placed their infants to sleep on their back, a practice strongly endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other health groups to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Only 63 percent of parents said they did this.

Making the lists

• Vanderbilt University ranks fourth among the “Best Places to Work in Academia,” according to a survey done by The Scientist, a magazine catering to the life sciences. Last year, Vanderbilt ranked fifth in the annual survey, which polls academic researchers about their university and organizations. Since the magazine's first survey in 2003, Vanderbilt has moved up 30 spots.

In a separate survey by The Scientist, Vanderbilt was named one of the Best Places to Work for Postdocs. Vanderbilt ranked 15th among institutions in North America, up 13 spots compared to 2005.

• Vanderbilt University Hospital was recognized for the seventh consecutive year as one of the top 100 hospitals in the country, in a study by Solucient Institute. The list identifies hospitals that have achieved certain national benchmark level scores for overall organizational performance in comparison with peer hospitals across the nation. Hospitals are assigned to one of five comparison groups according to size and teaching status.

• The School of Medicine was once again ranked among the best medical schools in the nation by U.S. News and World Report magazine. In its 2007 edition of “America's Best Graduate Schools.” VUSM ranked 17th out of 125 accredited medical schools.

In a separate ranking, seven specialty programs at Vanderbilt University Medical Center ranked as being in the top of their respective fields in the magazine's 17th annual ranking of “America's Best Hospitals.”

• VUMC was again named among the nation's 100 “most wired” hospitals and health systems.

The 2006 Most Wired Survey and Benchmarking Study was conducted by Hospitals and Health Networks magazine, Accenture, McKesson Corp. and the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives. Vanderbilt was also the only Tennessee health care facility named.

• VUMC hospitals are among only 59 health facilities in the country to be included on the first Leapfrog Top Hospitals list.

The Leapfrog Group is a consortium of large companies and public employers that together provide health benefits to more than 37 million consumers spread among all 50 states.