VC Notes Archive Office of the Vice Chancellor
Friday, July 8, 2016

Shadowing, Learning and Shaping Our Culture

Good morning!

Today I'm going to talk about our mission of education at UMMC.

I don't have to tell any of you that we have a lot of learners on our campus - in fact, there are more every year. The mission of health professions education is what brought UMMC to Jackson in 1955 and education is still central to our purpose today.

SON SIM LabIt is easy to be mindful of our role as educators when the parking lot is suddenly crowded after a few weeks of relative emptiness while students were away, when there are new M3s walking around looking nervous with their shiny short white coats, and when nursing students roam the halls proudly wearing their navy scrubs and new stethoscopes. We have already welcomed new nursing and SHRP students this summer, with medical, dental and graduate students coming in August. There is also a new class of residents on board, still coming to grips with what it means to be called “doctor” for the first time.

While new students bring a special awareness to the role of education at this academic medical center, there is always learning to be done. Every Monday new faculty and staff begin orientation and bring another opportunity for teaching and learning. Many of these new employees come from other institutions and bring fresh eyes and new ideas to their units and departments. Some of them are beginning their roles for the first time and will be taken under our wings as they find their niche in our Medical Center community. 

As we strive to be a center for innovation, it can't be overlooked that those of us who may have been around for a little while are constantly learning as well. Health care in general is ever changing and those who teach are especially challenged to learn new ways of doing old things to shorten recovery time, become more efficient, or to be less invasive to the lives and bodies of our patients.

While having learners around us can slow us down or seem disruptive, it is necessary. Necessary because it forces us to answer the question of why we do things the way we do.  It is also necessary because as we mature, we need a new generation to come behind us.  

As the only academic medical center in the state, we have the unique and weighty opportunity to shape the culture of health care in Mississippi. I venture to say that all of us can think back to those we shadowed as high school or college students who inspired us to become who we are today. We can recall our learning experiences with physicians, nurses, therapists, pharmacists, scientists and, yes, educators, who were the perfect example of the professionals we wanted to become.

We at the Medical Center have the chance to set the tone of health care in our state for today and for tomorrow. I ask you to be mindful and take seriously our roles as learners and as educators across our campus.  We are planting the seeds of culture and that culture can be one of high standards of care and constantly striving for better or they can be seeds of complacency and the status quo. So I encourage you to not see the students, shadowers or new employees as inconveniences, but rather refocus and see them as our dentists, doctors, nurses, therapists and pharmacists of tomorrow. They are the ones who will be caring for us when we are vulnerable and need compassionate care.

I'm reminded of our late, great Vice Chancellor Norman Nelson's dictum that our education mission is the first and foremost reason UMMC exists. Let us pursue it with equal measures of passion and patience as we all strive for A Healthier Mississippi.

Note: Thanks to rising M2 Helen I. Turner, who is pursuing a Dean's Summer Observership, for her assistance with today's VC Notes. 

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