Dean's Weekly Message

Aug. 14, 2017


Dear colleague: 

The School of Medicine last Friday welcomed the new classes of students in medical school and in the physician assistant program with a white coat ceremony that congratulates them on their accomplishments and calls on them to meet the next challenges in their lives with purpose and compassion. We are fortunate to have attracted so many talented young people to the Anschutz Medical Campus and I am confident that they will be impressive students during their time with us. I would like to thank the admissions team for their countless hours reviewing applications and interviewing candidates, the alumni who have generously donated to provide these students with their first stethoscopes and our faculty and staff for joining us Friday morning in welcoming the classes. 

In his address, Brian Dwinnell, MD, associate dean for student life, noted that the White Coat Ceremony is not only to welcome those who seek to join our profession, it is a reminder to those of us who are here to teach that we have an obligation to our students. “We have a duty to act as professional role models,” he said. “We have a responsibility of nurturing the inherent sense of altruism with which our students arrive while we help them navigate what it means to become part of a social construct that we know as the profession of medicine. We know that there are discouraging data that some students lose their sense of altruism and ethical behavior during training, which is, at the very least, counterintuitive, but more accurately a statement about the professional culture to which we’ve contributed. A few will counter this data by saying that trainees are just being exposed to reality and they’re too idealistic when they arrive. We should never accept the argument that one can be too idealistic when there are human lives in the balance.” 

Fortunately, we are surrounded by excellent role models on this campus and we also honored some of them at the ceremony. Congratulations to Anna Bruckner, MD, associate professor of dermatology and pediatrics, and Abigail Lara, MD, associate professor of medicine, on receiving the Annual Faculty Professionalism Award. In addition, 25 fourth-year students were inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society, recognizing them as role models and exemplars of humanistic patient care. These honorees set an example not only for the incoming class, but for all of us. 

University of Colorado Hospital was ranked No. 15 in the country on the 2017-18 Best Hospitals Honor Roll and Overview by U.S. News and World Report. The hospital is nationally ranked in 11 specialties: pulmonology; kidney disorders; cancer; orthopedics; neurology and neurosurgery; diabetes and endocrinology; gynecology; gastroenterology and GI surgery; cardiology and heart surgery; geriatrics; and urology. In pulmonology, the hospital shares the distinction of its No. 1 rating with National Jewish Health. With its base on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus and with clinical care provided by our faculty, University of Colorado Hospital has become a national leader in delivering the highest quality health care. I would like to thank everyone on the CU team contributing to this relationship and I look forward to our continued successful partnership. 

Chancellor Don Elliman announced last Wednesday that Sarah Thompson, PhD, RN, has decided to step down as Dean of the College of Nursing. Sarah served as dean for six years and during that time the college increased its student base, has become a leader in nurse managed clinical enterprises, strengthened its psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program and built a strong financial foundation. Sarah will remain a tenured faculty member and will move to a new position as an associate vice chancellor, leading the planning for expansion of health professional education on our campus, at CU Denver and CU South Denver. The University expects to name an interim dean soon and will immediately begin a national search for a new dean. The search committee will be led by Denise Kassebaum, DDS, dean of the School of Dental Medicine. 

The Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine has announced that J. Mark Petrash, PhD, professor and vice chair of research for ophthalmology, has been named associate director. Mark is a longtime member of the Gates Center and was its 2015 internal self-study reviewer, a participant in the center’s 2015-16 strategic planning process and a key collaborator in the center’s partnership with the Department of Ophthalmology to raise $10 million to establish an ocular stem cell and regeneration program and recruit Maria Valeria Canto-Soler, PhD, as its director.   

Congratulations to Sarah Perman, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine, who has been invited to present her abstract, “Do Race and Sex Differences Exist for Do Not Attempt Resuscitation Orders in Patients Successfully Resuscitated from In-Hospital Cardiac Arrest?” at the Scientific Sessions meeting of the American Heart Association in November. Sarah’s presentation is one of four selected as Best Abstract Awards for Cardiac and Trauma Resuscitation Science. Sarah’s work on the project was supported by the School’s Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health program, which earlier this summer was notified that its grant application to the National Institutes of Health had been renewed. 

Two college students who participated in the School of Medicine’s Undergraduate Pre-health Program (UPP), have created a video to showcase advice they received from mentorship meetings this summer with members of our faculty and staff. Adnan Syed, who will be a junior this fall at CU Denver, and Amira Otmane, who will be a junior at University of Denver, spent the summer rounding with the general medicine and Acute Care for the Elderly teams, attended didactics on hospital medicine and health systems management, and assisted with two quality improvement projects centered around patient/family communication in the hospital.  “Be dreamers,” Paritosh Kaul, MD, professor of pediatrics and director of the Culturally Effective Medicine program, says in the video. “Think of changing the world, but do it in a very measured way. Don’t compromise on what is the right thing. Don’t compromise on your grades. Just be the best you can be. Keep your heart in the right place.” 

The 20 undergraduates in the Gates Summer Internship Program wrapped up their work last Friday, Aug. 11, with poster presentations and a lecture by Huntington Potter, PhD, director of the Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center. Those students were assigned to laboratories of the members of the Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and have been attending lectures and participating in activities since May 30.

CU Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education in partnership with others on the Anschutz Medical Campus have launched the One Book One Campus initiative this summer with An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, a first-hand account of bipolar illness written by psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison. One Book One Campus is modelled after One City One Book reading programs that attempt to get many members of a community reading the same book at the same time. Our campus initiative is optional during this pilot year. The effort primarily targets students across programs but all members of the AMC community are encouraged to participate. For our incoming students, the School of Medicine has purchased the book and they received the books in small group sessions last week. 

Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne are hosting a town hall meeting on healthcare on Wednesday, Aug. 16 at 6 p.m. at the Aurora Municipal Center, 15151 E. Alameda Parkway. The format will allow attendees to ask questions. For those who are interested but can’t attend in person, the event will be available on Facebook livestream @JohnHickenlooper. 


Have a good week, 

John J. Reilly, Jr., MD
Richard D. Krugman Endowed Chair
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and
Dean, School of Medicine



The Dean’s weekly message is an email news bulletin from John J. Reilly, Jr., MD, Dean of the CU School of Medicine, that is distributed to inform University of Colorado School of Medicine faculty members, staff, students and others about issues pertaining to the School’s mission of education, research, clinical care and community service.  See the UCH-Insider →


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