Change we wish

“We must be the change we wish to see.”

~M.K. Gandhi

February 4, 2011

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

… We are the Georgia Health Sciences University …

We now have our new name and our new logo. We would like to thank everyone who has had a hand in the transition which so far has been smooth. We’ve all received the short email messages notifying everyone in their address book of the email address change. If you attended the invigorating ceremony on Tuesday, then you heard Dr. Ellison say that the name change has been a long time coming. Additionally, now that our name is Georgia Health Sciences University (GHSU) please do ensure that we represent this accordingly in your internal and external communications. Thank you for your support and leadership and now… “We must be the change we wish to see.”… our community deserves and expects no less … so … “Let’s roll.”

… Top 100 … congrats to our community leaders …

In the 13th listing, Georgia Trend Magazine released its Top 100 Influential Georgians recently. These 100 are people who affect the course of events in Georgia, who are recognized for how they influence what we think and how we live. We would like to congratulate all that made the list and to make special notice of our very own new leader. Congratulations to Dr. Azziz. We would also like to note others who substantially support our institution and initiatives in so many ways; congratulations also to Mayor Deke Copenhaver, Mr. Michael Cassidy, Mr. Charlie Craig, Mr. Wyck Knox, and Mr. Joel Wernick.

… More congrats …

We would also like to congratulate a young research scientist and member of the VDI and BBDI, Jay Heade, of receiving notice of an award from the Department of the Army. The grant is for over $375,000 and 3 years. This was a very competitive award and will support and further develop this novel and important work.
… “I sure do like to fix things”…

This week Dr. Charlie Howell was named Chair of GHSU Department of Surgery. Charlie is a 1973 graduate of GHSU and has been a highly respected faculty member for over 30 years. He helped plan and develop the CMC. Charlie’s devotion and dedication to the department of Surgery and GHSU is unwavering. In launching his new role among delighted colleagues at a special departmental meeting, Charlie quipped “I sure do like to fix things” – fortunately he has the full support of his colleagues in the department and throughout the institution to help bring his plans of building clinical and educational programs along with research initiatives. Please join me in congratulating Charlie on this exciting and well-deserved position. We welcome and appreciate his leadership, as well as the leadership and support of his departmental colleagues.

… Addressing physician shortages: A national issue and for Georgia …

As we know, physician shortages will worsen without increases to residency training. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has predicted an overall shortage of more than 90,000 doctors in 2020 in the United States. Many factors come into play when discussing the physician shortage. For example, the Census Bureau predicts a 36% increase in the number of Americans over the age of 65 (the very segment of population with the greatest healthcare needs). These physician shortages are not uniformly distributed and in particular, Primary Care and Specialists are predicted to be running 45,000-46,000 short in the next decade. It is also estimated that nearly 1/3 of all physicians will retire in the next 10 years. The biggest impact on the physician shortage will inevitably be those that need healthcare the most … the vulnerable and underserved populations. These groups include the approximately 20% who live in rural or inner city locations. In the absence of additional efforts, the demand for care will outweigh the caregivers especially in rural areas. Because of the concern of shortages, academic medical centers around the country are presently increasing the graduates by an additional 7,000 graduates every year over the next decade.

Against this background, we would like to bring to your attention two important publications that have just come out. First, The New England Journal of Medicine recently had an article discuss the States’ Next Challenge-Securing Primary Care for Expanded Medicaid Population ( The analysis also affirms a significant physician shortage in the next 10 years, alongside an expansion of Medicaid coverage. Additionally, in 2014 the threshold for Medicaid eligibility will rise. This report indicates in Georgia that we are ranked #2, with an Access-Challenge Index of 190.7 … meaning that Georgia is one of eight states facing the greatest challenge and is expected to have large Medicaid expansion.

The second important report is from the Council of Graduate Medical Education (COGME) 20th report (Advancing Primary Care) ( This key report outlines strategies and tactics to meet existing and anticipated primary care needs as healthcare reform unfolds. It is also accompanied by a letter to Secretary Sebelius ( that advances a rationale for the maintenance of GME caps to avoid a collapse of the primary care infrastructure. This position was consistent with many stakeholders and survived the contentious debate surrounding the passage of healthcare reform. We appreciate Dr. Hobbs’ leadership in bringing our attention to these important reports – both of which are well worth you reading.

Accordingly, we are working with our many partners to do our part to increase our GME residency slots in the state and encouraging and insuring those residents when training is completed, stay in the state to practice. We are in discussions with hospitals around our state to gather information on how we can increase our GME training and future physician workforce. As an example, last week, Dr. Azziz, Dr. Linda Boyd, and I had the pleasure of meeting with the Presidents/CEOs of the Southwest GA hospitals (Phoebe Putney, Tift Regional, Colquitt Regional, South GA Medical Center, and John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital), Albany Area Primary Health Care, and SOWEGA – AHEC to explore expansion of GME in Southwest Georgia. This is a much valued partnership and this consortium is making substantial progress. Also, this week Dr. Azziz delivered the keynote presentation at the Georgia Hospital Association meeting where he also described our commitment and collaborative activities with other hospital partners and community leaders to address these long standing physician shortages. As mentioned in a prior Dean’s Diary, we are also assisting an important Board of Regents’ subcommittee that is addressing this important healthcare issue for our state. We will continue to keep you updated on these endeavors and our related activities.

… Data and more data …

We want to also thank Dr. Andria Thomas, Associate Dean for Evaluation and her colleagues for their efforts on getting our academic dashboard, MedEd SCOPE (Streamlining Curriculum Oversight and Program Evaluation) live and working. SCOPE is designed to serve as an academic dashboard and accountability too for dean’s staff (curricular oversight responsibilities) and administrative faculty members. It is designed to be a curriculum-related data warehouse. This will allow for quick overview of key campus metrics, aid in decision making by graphically representing trends in date and will allow for tailored view based on role and security. The data is centrally stored, enables cross-functional and departmental analysis and will store historical data. We are very excited to have this tool to enhance our educational performance. Work is continuing on enhancing the views and system. Surveys are being conducted and multiple research projects have developed from data that is available in the dashboard. Please contact Dr. Thomas if you have any questions regarding this new initiative.

Millions of fans will gather this Sunday to watch the Super Bowl. Whether you are one who watches for the game or for the commercials, we hope you have a very relaxing and enjoyable ‘Super Bowl Sunday’.

Many thanks for your continued leadership.