Today is the last Friday of the month (and hallelujah! – the third payday), so I’ll answer your questions.
But before I get started, I wanted to note that tomorrow is National Doctor’s Day, which falls on a Saturday this year. So I want to take this opportunity to give a shout-out to all of our physicians in all of our locations across Mississippi.
This distinguished group ranges from surgeons performing procedures this very moment in our ORs, to physician leaders in our clinical labs, to doctors who serve as preceptors for our students in community settings throughout the state. And so much more. They literally come in all shapes and sizes, all ethnicities, from countries around the globe. But they have a few things in common and that is a medical degree, graduate training in a discipline, wisdom beyond measure, and an unwavering ethical commitment to put the needs of their patients ahead of their own. Tomorrow, and every day, I will be proud that I am a doctor, and privileged to serve alongside the doctors of UMMC.
Now, on to your questions. Just as a reminder, I read all of your questions and appreciate them all. I can’t answer every one of them here, but I pass the rest along to others for consideration and possible action. So here we go.
Q: Over the last two or more years, I have noticed the nice pictorials of student educational activities in the hallways. On the subject of diversity, the only ones that I see have no African American males. Can you tell me if there might be some pictures within the Medical Center confines that actually have African American males? I know we educate them because I teach them. I would hope that the Medical Center is not systematically leaving these males out for reason of race. Hopefully there are images around that show total diversity.
A: I appreciate your question because I think it’s always important to make sure that our commitment to diversity and inclusion be obvious, not only in how we promote ourselves through ads and other visual items but also in our recruitment and hiring efforts and how we present our services to patients and the wider world. The “wall wraps” you’re referring to have been a nice way to adorn some of the plain wall space across our vast campus. Our Marketing team has done a good job using available space to promote some of our unique attributes, accomplishments and accolades. In addition to the group of wall images you ask about I would add the images and messages on the shuttle buses and on some of the elevator doors around campus. The “Only Here”-themed ones in particular can educate people, internally and externally, on how special UMMC is to our state. If you look at this suite of promotional items as a whole, African-American men are well represented in images promoting our education, research and clinical care areas and accurately show our institutional commitment to diversity and inclusion in those mission areas. The Only Here wall wraps, mostly located on the second-floor corridor between the dental school and research wing, feature actual UMMC people – or sometimes an illustration or other image – associated with that wrap’s topic/theme. I agree that in this set of images, black males are underrepresented, and that is something we will address. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. We are intently focused on recruiting greater numbers of African-American males to careers in medicine and other health disciplines, and we want that commitment to be readily apparent in all of our messaging.
Q: I eat lunch at the Student Union a couple of times per week and usually get a salad. However, when I went last week the salad bar was closed, and I was told it would not be available anymore. Do you know why this is? I understand cost may be a factor, but with UMMC's focus on student/employee health and well-being, I was confused as to why we would want to take away the healthiest thing at the Union.
A: I asked Tim Liskey, director of food and nutrition, to respond to your question. His reply: “We are changing the offerings at the Union to better match the offerings in our main café. Some of these offerings are our rotating brands which feature healthy options. Offerings like ‘Broth and Bowl’ and ‘Take a Bao’ focus on current trends in healthy eating. In addition, they have been very successful and widely received in the main café for some time. The goal of the Food and Nutrition Department is to enhance the selections. We will continue to listen to our customers and change our offerings in the future. We simply ask that you try some of the new items and give us a little time to work out the details. Please continue to share your thoughts as they are valued!”
Q: Why do we still have two Policy and Procedure websites? One is called "old" and one is called "new." Knowing which one to search is confusing and frustrating. There are policies in the "old" system that were revised in 2018. Why weren't they moved to the "new" system? As our Chief Medical Officer likes to say, "standardization reduces variability." Standardizing our P&P website would lead to reduced variability and increased compliance with people looking for the policies.
A: You are correct that we do have two policy sites, both accessible via the Clinical Intranet and listed side by side in the Healthcare Links (the vast majority of our policies speak to clinical activities). A few years ago we developed a new and improved policy and procedure database, which is called the “Document Center” (aka the "new system") and which can also be accessed through the main Intranet under the Administration tab. At that time, we began migrating policies from the old site to the new. While most of that work is complete, there are still a few policies on the old site that have not been moved. There are also policies on the old site that have been moved to the new but were not removed from the old, so now they can be found on both sites, which is not optimal. The transition from old to new has not been as smooth as we would have liked, largely because we have not been able to commit the resources to task a single “owner” to manage and maintain our policies. We plan to create an institutional policy office during the next fiscal year for this purpose. In the meantime, when searching for policies, always start with the new system (the Document Center). For most of our policies, the most updated version can be found there.
Q: Is it necessary for a director, manager and supervisor to sit in on a performance evaluation? I find it quite intimidating.
A: Our Human Resources professionals tell me that a performance evaluation meeting is intended to be a meaningful dialogue between a supervisor and the employee. As such, there is not a requirement for an up-line manager to be present for a performance evaluation meeting. However, in cases where an employee has documented performance issues and there is a history of strained performance-related discussions with a supervisor, HR normally recommends that the supervisor have a witness present for such discussions. This is in the interest of both the employee and the supervisor. In most cases I would think one witness should suffice.
Q: I am curious if it has ever been considered to make the default time for a meeting be limited to 50 minutes. This could be the default time in Outlook. (Obviously you could have longer or shorter meetings if desired.) With the size of this campus it would be very beneficial when back-to-back meetings are scheduled. Being late is disrespectful but often unavoidable due to the scheduling matrix here.
A: I like that idea, and we actually took a look at that a few years ago, but we were not able to identify a simple fix that could be applied enterprise-wide. I am told that we will be migrating to Office365 during the next fiscal year, so we can consider opportunities to make this adjustment at that time, but before that we’ll conduct some informal polling to understand all the implications of such a change. The issue you cite arises not only with meetings but also class scheduling. Allowing a bit more of a break between back-to-back meetings or classes would make a lot of sense in my book.
I am impressed, but not surprised, by how many good ideas are touched on in your questions and comments. Thank you for thinking about ways that we can be better and do better, on our journey toward A Healthier Mississippi.