VC Notes Archive Office of the Vice Chancellor
Friday, March 15, 2019

A Few of My Favorite Things

Good afternoon!

I’ve been spending the better part of most days recently in meetings about next year’s budget.  This is an essential task and a lot of work goes into it by a lot of people, which I greatly appreciate.  It's a heavy lift.

On the lighter side, I thought today I would share some of the things that bring a smile to my face and joy to my heart.

Photo of M4 Hannah Burson pins the map for her residency destination at Match Day.One of them is actually taking place this morning – Match Day.  That’s when our fourth-year medical students – along with all fourth-years at medical schools across the country – learn where they will do their residency training.  Aside from being just about the most emotionally charged event I’ve ever been part of, Match Day represents a profound moment of realization for the student:  After all those years of work and worry, finally, I’m really going to be a doctor! That is one of life's truly special moments.

One of the biggest sources of joy in my job are the times when we go to great lengths to help people.  I know from my own experience that these occasions happen every day on a one-to-one level between a patient and a provider, a student and a teacher, and a colleague to another colleague.

And then there are the big, audacious things like Dental Mission Week.  This year our School of Dentistry again took the lead to provide free care for a solid work week to 1,500 children and adults.  That’s just a mind-boggling undertaking that brings some comfort and good oral health to people who desperately need it.  DMW makes me happy and proud.

We have so many programs that reach out to young people in ways that can change the course of their lives.  A great example is our award-winning Base Pair program, which for more than two decades has introduced Murrah High School students to careers in scientific research.  And then there’s Project REACH, a partnership between students and post-docs in our School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences and the students at Jackson’s Barack H. Obama Magnet Elementary School.  Read the story in last Thursday’s eCV about this wonderful experience we are bringing to young people in our community.

I love it when I see our employees working together to solve a big problem. Groups in Human Resources, Information Systems and Finance are working so hard - against some adversity - to implement and prepare us to transition from Lawson to Workday as our enterprise resource planning software.  It’s an enormous task and our teams are doing it in addition to their “day jobs.”  This is one example, and there are many others, of people going the extra mile to make us better.  Their commitment is inspiring.

I love it when our staff get compliments.  I wish we had a Jumbotron on the side of the hospital that continuously scrolled the nice things people say about our employees and students.  One letter forwarded to me recently came from a family member of a patient who was here for an extended stay.  Because of his own health experiences, he was more knowledgeable than most about health care in the community setting.  An academic medical center, however, was something completely new to him.

“I have never witnessed a tertiary care facility/teaching hospital in action. It was a wonder to behold,” he said.  “I hope I never need to be in a tertiary care facility, but I gained the confidence and great satisfaction that I would be pleased to be cared for at UMMC. I am thankful for this tremendous asset for the State of Mississippi and for the service it provides to us citizens.”

The author said he liked and respected our physicians, from interns to attendings, and called them by name and discipline.  But he reserved special praise for the nursing staff.  “The nurses at UMMC were all wonderful. (They) never stop, but go full steam their whole shift.  I salute them.”

Even though I know all this to be true from my own experience, comments like this warm my heart. 

We all know that our state’s reputation nationally could be better, in many cases because people haven’t been here and don’t really know us that well.  That’s especially true when it comes to matters of diversity and inclusion.  That’s why I was so thrilled when Dr. Michael Ryan won the Diversity Educator of the Year Award from the state Institutions of Higher Learning last month.  He was recognized for his work in promoting diversity in biomedical sciences, which span the educational spectrum from grade school to junior faculty.  To top that, he’ll receive a national award for this work next month from the American Physiological Society.  The fact that Mike is drawing national attention to Mississippi for this commitment that we all value so dearly makes me very proud.

As you know, my job often puts me out in the community representing UMMC to others, which I am always proud to do.  I meet all kinds of people, including many who are accomplished and successful.  But I have never met a couple as humble, caring and quietly committed as Joe and Kathy Sanderson, who are chairing our fundraising campaign to expand our children’s facilities.  Their leadership is inspirational and when I think about the time, talent and treasure they are devoting to benefit the children of Mississippi I am deeply moved.

Finally, one of the personal missions I have taken on in my role as a woman leader is to be a mentor and advocate for other women as they think about their careers.  Over the years, I have seen women shortchange themselves almost as a reflexive, instinctive response when faced with opportunities or obstacles.  I am so pleased when I see women exceeding their expectations and encouraging other women to not limit themselves by imagined or arbitrary boundaries.

To be sure, my job is not all a bed of roses.  Far from it.  But the few things I mentioned here – and there are many more – just give you a sense of how honored and grateful I am to be the leader of this “tremendous asset” for our state, and how proud I am of all that you are doing to lead us to A Healthier Mississippi.

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