Archive for Sunday, February 10, 2013

New KU Med Center leader Doug Girod emphasizing connections in raising profile of campus

February 10, 2013


Terry Tsue guesses that it's compassion that has led colleague Doug Girod to take part in more than a dozen medical missions to Guatemala, the Philippines, Uganda and elsewhere.

That may be true. But those trips are also evidence of what Girod is aiming for as the new leader of the Kansas University Medical Center: connections.

Doug Girod, who became Kansas University Medical Center's executive vice chancellor on Feb. 1, plans to emphasize teamwork within KUMC and building connections with other institutions across the nation and world.

Doug Girod, who became Kansas University Medical Center's executive vice chancellor on Feb. 1, plans to emphasize teamwork within KUMC and building connections with other institutions across the nation and world.

Girod, 54, says the way forward for KUMC is fewer separations and more bridges — among the different entities on the campus in Kansas City, Kan., and between the complex and other people and groups around the state, the nation and the world. That's the philosophy he said has helped elevate the department he's leaving, and colleagues say the work he did there could indicate what he's capable of on a grander scale.

"He's the right man for this job," said Tsue, a KUMC professor and vice chairman of the Medical Center's Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery. That's the department Girod led for more than 12 years, starting in an interim capacity, before he became KUMC executive vice chancellor Feb. 1.

Girod, an Oregon native who worked for a while in Silicon Valley in the 1970s before the advent of personal computers, earned his medical degree at the University of California at San Francisco. He settled on his specialty — surgery for cancers of the head and neck — because of the challenge and the nature of it, he said in an interview during his first full week in his new position.

"It's so impactful on people," Girod said. "It affects their appearance. It affects their ability to eat, swallow, talk."

After service in the Navy following his school and residencies, he came to KU in 1994. By 2000 he was leading the otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) department.

Under his leadership, Tsue said, the department was transformed. It has four times the faculty members, a nationally recognized cancer treatment program that didn't exist before Girod's arrival, and a new international mission program for students, residents and faculty.

Formerly unranked, KU Hospital is now ranked 20th on the U.S. News and World Report "Best Hospitals" list for ear, nose and throat treatment. And it would rank higher, Tsue said, if the rest of the country were aware of how much patient care has improved.

"He's a pretty phenomenal leader," Tsue said.

Kirk Benson, a KUMC professor in the anesthesiology department, has worked with Girod everywhere from the operating room at KU Hospital to the leadership of KU Physicians Inc., the group that oversees School of Medicine faculty medical practices. Benson is the president, and Girod has served on its board and interacted with it in the administrative role he held for five years in the School of Medicine, senior associate dean for clinical affairs.

And whether it's with patients, nurses or fellow board members, Girod interacts the same way with everyone, Benson said.

"Anyone you talk to, you're going to get the same thing: that he's just a wonderful gentleman to be around," Benson said.

Girod says forming strong relationships will be important for reaching the goals he's set: to achieve a top-25 ranking for the School of Medicine in the U.S. News rankings, as well as a top-25 spot in National Institutes of Health funding.

"It's sort of trying to maintain what I think has just been an outstanding trajectory the Medical Center has had for the last decade," Girod said, "and maintaining that trajectory at a time of really significant fiscal constraint, but at the state level and the national level."

Students in the campus's three schools — medicine, nursing and health professions — need to learn together rather than apart, he said.

Key to that will be a proposed new health education building, toward which Gov. Sam Brownback has recommended $10 million in funding and $35 million in bonding authority. The best way to educate students is no longer through classroom lectures, Girod said, and the new facility would allow for simulation technology that will allow those different students to rub shoulders.

"You can't really keep training doctors in one building and nurses in another building and health professions in another building and then throw them all in the hospital and say, 'You guys go work as a team,' " Girod said. "It just doesn't make sense."

The promise of the new building, he said, will be important for one of his most pressing first tasks: to prepare for the hopeful renewal of the School of Medicine's accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, which is scheduled to visit in October.

Another immediate task is the search for a dean for the School of Medicine, and Girod had already started work this past week, he said. The separation of that job — Barbara Atkinson, his predecessor, served in both positions — will help him focus on making connections on the campus and externally, he said.

"There's so much that needs to be done to accomplish what we need to accomplish," Girod said. "It's really too much for one person to effectively do all of it."

He hopes to have a dean in place within six months, he said — a speedy timeline by the standards of academia.

Girod said he wants to build further national and international connections, relationships with other medical institutions in the area and cooperation among the Medical Center, the KU Hospital and the physicians' practices. Such connections create more opportunities for education and research, he said.

And all three of the campus' schools will be working to fill current and future health care shortages in rural Kansas, he said.

And he believes things can continue to improve.

"I see opportunity everywhere," he said.

Tsue and Benson, his colleagues, agreed.

"He's one to challenge the status quo in a positive way," Benson said.


LJD230 5 years, 3 months ago

Wanting KU to be recognized among the top 25 medical schools in the country is wishful thinking. A similar hope for the Lawrence campus was proffered several years ago by the previous KU chancellor. We all know how that worked out.

Until the medical school refocuses it's mission to one of research and the education of physician scientists rather than training country doctors it will remain in the mediocre ranks of American medical schools.

Every hospital in which a KU medical student or resident trains should be a major academic affiliate of the medical school. It is essential that the med school exert oversight of medical education occurring in other than KU Hospital.

A great medical school has a diverse student body and attracts a geographically diverse group of applicants for residency positions. Students and residents completing their education at KU should be encouraged to get off the plantation and seek further post graduate education at the elite hospitals and schools on the left and right coast. A med school will not attain national stature if it doesn't extend it's wings and reputation through the products it creates.

Both KU Hospital and the medical school need to seek more aggressively research dollars that will support fellowships in the various clinical disciplines. And both entities need to put skin in the game with dollars to support the effort.

A good hospital does not a good medical school make. Patient care is not the most important mission of a great medical school. This is a dirty but true little secret. Great medical schools are defined by excellence in teaching and research. Achieve excellence in the first two priorities and good patient care will follow as day from night.

LJD230 5 years, 3 months ago

There are many state funded medical schools infinitely better than KU. They have a high national reputation, attract a geographic student body and excel in the education and training of physician scientists. Examples: Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, California, Washington, Virginia, Ohio State and the list goes on.

If KU wants to achieve a greater reputation it will occur only through it's research initiatives and the education of residents and fellows from broad and diverse geographic locations. And if that means some sort of partnership with hospitals on the other side of the border, sobeit.

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