It just so happens that Christmas Eve marked my 100th day as dean of this great school. My husband Marco, who is Sicilian, and I share in his annual tradition of making pizza the night before the holiday. This year as we enjoyed our creations — him on a traditional Margherita pizza and me on a pepperoni and green olive pizza— I reflected on how fortunate we are to be part of this community.
In so many of my interactions with our incredible students, faculty, and staff, I hear how proud people are of the important work we do at the UVA School of Medicine. Your pride inspires me and that’s also why, even as I grow in my role, listening to and learning from you will always be my first job. We’ve already accomplished much together, and there’s more ahead. Here are just a few examples:
We reinforced our shared vision of a united UVA Health during annual reviews.
Before Thanksgiving, we wrapped up annual reviews for the School’s 21 clinical departments, 8 research departments, and 6 research centers. New this year, system-level leaders from the Medical Center, School of Medicine, and UVA Physicians Group were invited to participate. This represented a change from prior years and highlights our efforts to break down silos and reinforce the importance of these School of Medicine departments and centers to the overall success of UVA Health. Bringing everyone to the table for these reviews also allowed for more two-way dialogue among participants about how to help departments and centers achieve their annual goals. Through this dialogue, each department and center now has clearly articulated goals in the following areas, for which we will track successes throughout the year: research, education, clinical, quality & safety, philanthropy, diversity/equity/inclusion, faculty development, and financial.
We are successfully retaining our faculty at a critical time.
UVA Health faces similar staffing and nursing shortages as health systems around the country. Still, I am proud of our ability to retain our School of Medicine faculty amidst this crisis. Our faculty attrition rate for fiscal years 2017-20 — the latest four-year stretch for which we have a national benchmark — is roughly half the national average. While the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reports a national annual average departure rate of 9.6%, the UVA School of Medicine has a departure rate of only 5.1%. And our faculty departure rate for the last fiscal year was 4.8%, so we appear to be trending even farther in a positive direction compared to our peers. While this is good news on the one hand, it does mean that we have to be more intentional about the important work of diversifying our faculty ranks. As a woman in a leadership position — and as someone for whom diversity and equity are an important part of who I am and what I want for our discipline — I want us to lead by example. I look forward to working with you all on this front.
We are bringing clarity and equity to faculty compensation.
Thanks to the many who have long advocated for this work, I am pleased to announce that we are launching a School-wide gender pay equity analysis this month. In collaboration with the University, we will host a kickoff meeting with a consulting firm in early January to begin analyzing and eventually remediating any potential inequities we find. Also, in conjunction with the recent arrival of Jeremy Sibiski, our new School of Medicine Chief Operating Officer, we will start the work to develop a School-wide compensation plan. This effort could not be more important to help us chart a common vision for the road ahead. For example, we have 21 clinical departments and a unique compensation plan for each one. Going forward, we must have a fair and equitable School of Medicine compensation plan that values work on all of our missions.
We are searching for dynamic, new leaders in several departments.
We recently hosted finalists on-site for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology chair position. The search committee for the Department of Surgery chair position just hosted virtual interviews with candidates, and finalists will be on-site this month and in early February. We are currently receiving candidate applications for the following chairs: Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer, Department of Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery, and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. Finally, along with our partners in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, we are in the process of forming a search committee for the Department of Biomedical Engineering chair position.
All this progress on so many fronts around the School is because of your thoughtful input and direction. So thank you for all the kindness and good counsel you have given me in my first few months as dean. I look forward to all that’s ahead for us at UVA School of Medicine in 2022!
Melina Kibbe, MD
Dean, UVA School of Medicine
James Carroll Flippin Professor of Medical Science
Chief Health Affairs Officer, UVA Health