“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”

-Elmer Davis


Dear Colleagues and Friends,


Our Medical School Provides… Countless Opportunities… To Lead and Serve

There are truly countless privileges that come with being a part of our medical school. We certainly were reminded of that this week at the Association of American Medical Colleges Annual Meeting in Baltimore and, closer to home, at the 31st Annual Rosalynn Carter Symposium for Mental Health Policy at Atlanta’s Carter Center. The impact of our former dean and now long-time AAMC President, Dr. Darrell G. Kirch, is simply awesome. Dr. Kirch’s many contributions to this particular gathering included a powerful shared message with Board Chair Peter L. Slavin, president of Massachusetts General Hospital and professor of health policy at Harvard Medical School. They said that equity should be a defining test of whether we, our nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals, are meeting our responsibility to give great care to all who need it. We were challenged to live up to our social obligations, and to seek social equality and health care equality for all Americans. No wonder the meeting title was: Learn, Serve, Lead. Please consider reading more about this vital message here http://bit.ly/1MM6Ga0.


Unparalleled Colleagues and Partners…

At the incredible Carter Center this week, we were privileged to be with former first lady Rosalynn Carter, an amazing longtime advocate for improving mental health in our state, our nation and beyond. Your medical school helped lead a dinner conversation at the close of the first day of her national symposium. We talked about Innovations in Medical School Training, and frankly also about critical changes that must be made to mental health education and care. The bottom line is the one for which you all are so famous: look out for the total patient. That includes ensuring that patients receive excellent physical and mental health care because, in reality, the two are inseparable. Our Dr. Alex Mabe, long-time psychologist and educator, provided his usual calmly passionate, extremely insightful views on the problems and solutions before us.


In the Present… And for the Future

Perhaps the star of the show was Dr. Aleiya Butler, a graduate of our medical school who is now a first-year psychiatry resident with an eye on child psychiatry. Dr. Butler gets her passion and vision so honestly, a young Georgian who saw some of her own family members struggle with mental health problems and her father work as a mental health counselor to tirelessly help many others. We were joined at the Carter Center by Sherry Jenkins Tucker, executive director of the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network. Like our institution, hers absolutely recognizes the essential contributions of consumer leaders to a better present and future. Please learn more here http://bit.ly/1SLpfjP. In much that same vein, late last week in Augusta, we were also privileged that our Dr. Sandra Sexson, chief of child and adolescent psychiatry, along with some of our other mental health leaders, joined local and state mental health advocates to determine where gaps exist in our local mental health services, and how best we can work together to improve service. This dedicated group was brought together by state Rep. Henry Wayne Howard, himself a tireless advocate for those less fortunate in our community. Please see http://bit.ly/1HJUyoz. Truly an inspiring handful of days.


In Fact, You Don’t Have to Look… Far or Long…

But when home is the Medical College of Georgia, you definitely don’t have to leave to find inspiration. The innovation and commitment of our Dr. Frances Yang from the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology is a great example. She has designed an evidence-based medicine course that takes a fresh approach at explaining why, well, evidence-based medicine is so important. The first-year course features what she calls the “Dr. Oz Investigation,” asking students to research claims made by the popular TV doctor and present evidence either supporting or refuting them. Our students presented on stuff like whether there is arsenic in apple juice – there is – and whether it is dangerous enough to keep children from drinking it – it’s not, since the levels are at or below what the FDA requires they be in water. To drive home this reality in the practice of medicine, our chief of facial plastic surgery presented to this group this week. No doubt Dr. Achih Chen often has patients come to him with unrealistic expectations about a product or procedure they’ve seen on TV. He even calls his extremely competitive field a land mine of truths, half-truths and outright lies. As he explained to our students, it can be tough to determine what’s true in medicine and what’s marketing.  But evidence-based medicine – tried and true practices and those that have been thoroughly researched – help us sort through it. In the end, he says, this approach often creates better results, happier patients, and a better practice. Great advice for us all. Thank you Drs. Yang and Chen.


To Find leaders and Advocates…

Last Friday evening, our Dr. Bruce LeClair was on another kind of stage accepting the President’s Award from the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians. As the name implies, this award is the prerogative of the academy’s president, Dr. Wayne Hoffman, an Atlanta family medicine physician. We are super glad that Dr. LeClair was one of his! We absolutely want to add here that this year, our 1974 graduate Dr. Rick Wherry of Dahlonega was the other. How awesome is that. These amazing docs were honored for their “tireless work and dedication to the state legislative policies and issues surrounding family medicine and for our unmitigated success this past year.” Their joint success included increased payment to Georgia’s family medicine docs by Medicaid. Our Dr. LeClair’s long career includes more than a decade in the U.S. Army. He joined our faculty in 1992 and has been here ever since. Like so many of you, he is a passionate, accomplished educator and physician who has served numerous leadership roles with the Georgia Academy, including as President, as well as the American Academy of Family Physicians. He actually has gotten three previous awards from the Georgia Academy and we are so glad again that he and Dr. Wherry got this one! Congratulations.

As Well as Great Friends…

While we are on the “honored’ roll, we are also pleased to share that Dr. Jim Osborne, president and CEO of our foundation, was selected as the outstanding fundraising professional at the recent, local National Philanthropy Day luncheon and awards ceremony. No doubt. As we have said, this man, who came to our institution in 1989 as VP for university advancement and executive director of the foundation, is about as close to being an alum of our school as you can get without, well, being an alum.  We were reminded that friendships play a powerful role in transformative gifts and Dr. Osborne’s longstanding and trusted relationship with Dr. J. Harold Harrison and his dear wife Sue Harrison was integral to our school receiving the $66 million Harrison endowment. Dr. Osborne is a truly tireless advocate for and fan of MCG and we appreciate his leadership role in advancing our medical school. We also want to note that a true alum, Dr. D. Ronald Spearman, from our Class of 1974, recently joined our Foundation board.  Dr. Spearman, who worked in the private practice of internal medicine for many years, now directs inpatient medical management of spinal cord injury patients at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center. Back to our predilection to go full circle, his daughter, Dr. Vanessa Spearman, a 2005 MCG graduate who is jointly trained in psychiatry and internal medicine, is helping lead some of our innovative approaches to integrating mental and physical health care and education that we referenced earlier. Wow, how fortunate are we to have such colleagues.


Who Make that Extra Effort… Time and Again

Finally today, we leave you with yet another example of the extra efforts so many of you make each day to help the next generation. Dr. DeLoris Wenzel Hesse teaches gross anatomy to our medical students at the Medical Partnership in Athens and endocrinology at UGA. Dr. Brett Szymik also teaches anatomy to our students and is an adjunct professor of kinesiology at UGA. Perhaps they should be teaching great citizenship and advocacy as well. They have sought and received an Affordable Learning Georgia Textbook Transformation Grant, which helps reduce the high cost of textbooks for students in the University System of Georgia. The $30,000 grant supports transition to an open-access textbook in UGA’s undergraduate Human Anatomy & Physiology classes, providing an estimated savings of over $400,000 annually for the some 1,600 undergraduates who enroll in these classes each year. How is that for some marvelous multiplication? Like all great efforts, this was a collaboration, in this case, between the Medical Partnership and the UGA Department of Cellular Biology and Center for Teaching and Learning.  While undergraduates are clearly the focus here, the classes are a gatekeeper course to future medical studies and careers in medicine, Dr. Szymik tells us. We tell Drs. Szymik and Hesse thank you for your service to all students.


Upcoming Events


Nov. 18 – Faculty & Staff Service Recognition Dinner honoring employees with 20, 25, 30, or 35 years of service, Legends Club, 6:30 p.m.

Nov. 19 – Great American Smokeout Commit to Quit, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., JSAC Breezeway, Summerville Campus; Harrison Commons lobby; Children’s Hospital of Georgia lobby. For more information visit gru.edu/tobaccofree/.

Dec. 6-8 – Liaison Committee on Medical Education Mock Site Visit

Dec. 7 – University Senate Meeting, 5:30-7:30 p.m., EC-1222, Health Sciences Campus.

Dec. 10 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium

Jan. 11 – University Senate Meeting, 5:30-7:30 p.m., JSAC Ballroom, Summerville Campus. 

Jan. 12 – Town Hall meeting with students, noon-1 p.m., Harrison Commons, GB 1220A.

Jan. 22 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

Jan. 24-27 – LCME Site visit

Feb. 1 – University Senate Meeting, 5:30-7:30 p.m., EC-1222, Health Sciences Campus.

Feb. 18 – MCG Faculty Senate meeting and Awards Ceremony, 5:30 p.m., Lee Auditorium.

Feb. 25 – MCG Alumni Association Board Meeting, Macon, Idle Hour Country Club, 3:30 p.m.

March 7 – University Senate Meeting, 5:30-7:30 p.m., JSAC Ballroom, Summerville Campus.

March 18 – Match Day, location TBD!

March 25 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

April 11 – University Senate Meeting, 5:30-7:30 p.m., EC-1222, Health Sciences Campus.

April 15 – MCG Alumni Association sponsors the Raft Debate. More to come.

April 29 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

April 29-May 1 – Alumni Weekend.

May 6 – Dean’s State of the College Address, noon, Lee Auditorium.

May 12 – Hooding 2016, Keynote speaker, Dr. Claire Pomeroy, President, Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, location and time TBD.

Happy Friday the 13th!

Leave a Reply