Message from the Chair, James P. Nataro, MD PhD MBA

June 2, 2014 by School of Medicine Webmaster

nataro2.php We aspire to excellence in all the mission of academic medicine, each valued equally.

We aspire to produce outcomes in all missions that are equal to those of any institution in the country, but to do so in a small, friendly, patient-, family- and community-centered environment.

These two sentences articulate my personal vision for the Department of Pediatrics. Let’s unpack them. Academic Medical Centers typically recognize three major mission areas: clinical care, education and research. I typically add a fourth mission: advocacy for and promotion of matters relevant to the three other missions. Each of these areas is so important that compromise on the energy of our effort or quality of our output is unacceptable. As our fundamental goal is to ensure the health of children in and outside central Virginia, and each of these missions contributes fundamentally toward that goal, we cannot accept anything other than our best.

The concept of “equal value” is also important. By this I mean that I do not favor the contributions of any faculty member over any other; as long as mission excellence remains the objective, all efforts count equally. Of course, in the moment and in the design of the enterprise, clinical excellence trumps: we will never compromise the care of an individual child in the name of research or education. But when it comes to faculty advancement, it is the quality of the contribution that counts, not the particular area in which it is contributed.

The second vision sentence is also important. Big Children’s Hospitals are comfortable at the leading edge of clinical and scientific excellence. They may produce excellent outcomes by virtue of volume-driven repetition, rather than by dint of effort. In order to produce the same results as the big centers, we must apply additional energy, determination and attention. We can perform complex repair of congenital heart defects and transplant hearts; we can save extremely premature infants to live healthy lives; we can provide the latest in subspecialty medical services and develop innovative primary care strategies. We have the best people. We can expect the best. We may need a little more elbow grease to make it so.

I believe very strongly in our people and our missions. Our patients and their families expect much from us. We have the best and noblest profession. We can attain joy and success by achieving excellence in something that really matters.

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