The University of Texas System
Other institutions care for patients and do research. But only medical schools educate medical students and health-care workers. "It's the core of what we do," said Dr. L. Maximilian Buja.
Dr. Buja is one of The University of Texas System's first three Chancellor's Health Fellows, a recent initiative supported by the Chancellor's Excellence Endowments to encourage faculty participation and collaborations at UT's six health campuses. The Endowments are invested in the Long Term Fund.
Executive vice president for academic affairs at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Dr. Buja is a Health Fellow in education. Sharon Martin, vice president for quality management at UT M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, and Allan Brasier, UT Medical Branch at Galveston's Leon Bromberg, M.D., professor in internal medicine, are also health fellows.
Designating a health fellowship in education shows the significance of medical education, as well as innovations that must be made, said Dr. Kenneth I. Shine, UT System Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs. "Physicians now work as a team with nurses, pharmacists, and other health-care workers," he said. "The 21st century doctor must know how to motivate people and get them to work together."
Working with the $25,000 academic enhancement fund, Dr. Buja organized a highly successful October 2004 symposium on innovations in medical education. "This symposium focused on undergraduate medical education," Dr. Buja said. "We had faculty and staff participants from all of UT's health campuses, as well as from sister institutions in the state. It was a tremendous opportunity to exchange ideas and information about what each campus is doing."
A second symposium is scheduled for fall 2005, focusing on competency and professionalism at undergraduate, graduate and residency programs. "We want to move toward greater testing and assurance of competence at both the graduate and undergraduate level," Dr. Buja said.
Dr. Buja also organized a small grants program to fund six awards across the health campuses, along with an annual award for innovation in medicine. He helped found the University of Texas System Academy of Health Educators, which will honor outstanding UT health educators. "Ours is the first health academy organized by a university system and it isn't made up only of doctors," Dr. Shine said. "We'll also honor nurses and other vital health-care workers."
By establishing a Health Fellowship in education, Dr. Shine said, medical educational research and innovations are finally being recognized. "Most institutions don't explicitly value skill and competency in education as much as they do research productivity or highly technical patient care," Dr. Shine said. "We need to stimulate educators, recognize them and reward them. This is something Max (Dr. Buja) has already made progress with."
Dr. Buja believes medical education must address the immense changes in medical care, including "a huge explosion in knowledge. We need to institute ways to train our students differently," he said. "We need to approach learning as problem-solving and realize there is no way one person can know everything."
With medical education, small amounts of money can make a large difference, Dr. Shine said. "We've started something significant with a Chancellor's Health Fellowship in education," he said. "But we want to sustain and increase the progress we've already made. We cannot do it without the philanthropy of the Chancellor's Council."