School’s ‘Planning for Excellence’ calls for faculty review, input

The School of Medicine has been charged with establishing a bold, integrated long-term vision to maintain its position as a top-ranked school and to distinguish it as a leader in specific areas. The charge is an initiative by Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton to develop a 10-year strategic plan for each of the University’s schools.

Specifically, the medical school will focus on advancing human health as a key component of future activities. To reach that goal, the strategic planning has been divided into four main areas: clinical, community/population health, education and research. Each area has a committee developing goals and strategies, which will be integrated into a single plan for the medical school.

Once complete, the University will incorporate all plans from each school and submit the comprehensive plan to the Board of Trustees for approval in fiscal year 2009.

Working with the National Council, the research committee has completed developing its major themes and is seeking faculty input. Faculty are encouraged to visit to learn how the themes were selected and to provide constructive feedback.

When the three other medical school committees develop major themes for their areas, their work will also be placed on the Web site where faculty will be asked to provide comments. The Web site must be accessed from within the University network.

“This is a broad-based, inclusive process,” said Linda Reimann, assistant dean, School of Medicine Strategic Planning, and executive director, Barnes-Jewish Hospital/School of Medicine Joint Office of Strategic Planning. “Our goal is to elicit new and original ideas from across the campus community.”

The research planning arm, headed by Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., vice chancellor for research, is broken into two committees. The core planning committee, made up of department chairs and senior faculty from research-intensive departments, will identify and build the vision and themes for the strategic plan. The advisory committee, made up of senior faculty from all departments, junior faculty, post-doctoral fellows, and medical and graduate students, will help generate innovative ideas and give feedback on the overall strategic plan, Reimann said.

“The research committee has identified seven research themes and platforms that build on Biomed 21 and will be critical to advancing health over the next 10 years,” Stanley said.

“We asked ourselves: ‘What does Washington University do best, and what are the critical areas that are missing?'” Stanley said.

“Our charge now is to develop bold and innovative approaches that build on those strengths, address any deficits and position us to lead future developments in the ever-evolving research arena,” he said. “We look forward to input from the faculty on the Web site to help us shape this process.”

The research planning committee also conducted one-on-one interviews with faculty to collect their views on the future of the research environment at the medical school as well as the school’s strengths, needs in the future and barriers to achieving its goals.

The BioMed 21 plan will be integrated into the research planning process as well, Reimann said.

Larry J. Shapiro, M.D., executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, said the medical school must be bold in structuring its strategic plan.

“It will require new structures, new strategic partnerships, new funding sources and tools, and new technologies to be a leader in ‘advancing human health,'” Shapiro said. “The school should build on its strengths and form strategic alliances across all areas in each mission.”

The education committee, headed by Alison J. Whelan, M.D., associate dean for medical education, is looking at how to equip the medical school’s graduates to be leaders in advancing human health.

The clinical committee is headed by James P. Crane, M.D., associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs and CEO of the Faculty Practice Plan.

The community/population health committee is co-chaired by Graham A. Colditz, M.D., Ph.D., the Niess-Gain Professor and associate director of Prevention and Control at Siteman Cancer Center, and Katherine J. Mathews, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology.

Those committees are expected to have their themes available for faculty comment in the coming months.