Archive for Thursday, July 5, 2007

Internal med chairwoman at KUMC taking leave

July 5, 2007


Susan Pingleton, whose resignation as chairwoman of the internal medicine department at Kansas University Medical Center caused a recent stir, will remain with KU and take a professional leave.

Pingleton stepped down after five years as the leader of KUMC's largest department and now will work as a scholar-in-residence for one year at the American Association of Medical Schools in Washington, D.C.

There, she will study the quality of patient care at hospitals, which has become a top issue nationwide, and then plans to return to KUMC with her increased expertise, she said. During her year away, she said, she will remain on the KU payroll as professor of medicine.

"I'm thrilled to have this opportunity," Pingleton said. "I think I can contribute to understanding better what medical schools and educators need to do to prepare their trainees."

Pingleton's job in Washington starts next week.

When she announced in March her resignation as chairwoman of the internal medicine department, some faculty members said Pingleton was leaving because she disagreed with the medical school's dean, Barbara Atkinson.

Those faculty members, who spoke only if they could remain anonymous, said Atkinson wanted the department to have a greater emphasis on research at the expense of education and patient care.

KU officials have denied the allegations, and Atkinson had issued a statement praising Pingleton.

Pingleton says she doesn't want to "rehash the past."

She declines to discuss why she resigned except to say, "I'm ready to move on to something else and the department needs to go in its next direction."

She said that after her one-year leave is finished, "I look forward to coming back and using that experience for the university."

As an academic clinician and educator for 25 years at KU, she said issues involving the quality of patient care have always been foremost.

As part of her project, she will examine the organizational structures of the 10 teaching hospitals that have been ranked as the best in patient care.

"You have to show quality of patient care," she said. "There are external organizations imposing their idea of quality. In that environment, I'll be looking at what's the best way to get organized structurally."


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