News from Dean Spann | Spring 2022
03/01/2022, 08:30:02 AM
University of Houston College of Medicine Dean's Newsletter

​Spring is a time of renewal and hope, and while we started this spring semester on a cautious note, I am looking forward to new milestones and opportunities that 2022 will bring for the UH College of Medicine.

I am excited to share with you about our Household-Centered Care (HCC) program, an essential part of the core curriculum. This course is critical in preparing diverse physicians to deliver primary care in underserved communities with an emphasis on evidence-based, high-value and interdisciplinary team-based care.

Teams – involving students from the College of Medicine, College of Nursing, UH-Downtown Social Work and the UH Graduate School of Social Work as well as Community Health Workers (CHW) – work with participating households in the East End and Third Ward to address social determinants of health in their communities, connect participants to resources and build relationships. There are 65 participating households in the HCC program.

We launched a pilot program last fall with 15 interdisciplinary teams conducting real-time home visits (with appropriate COVID-19 safeguards) with 15 participating households.

“Doing the home visit, I was welcomed by our HCC participant into their apartment and was able to see how they live and their surroundings,” said Cenk Cengiz, a second-year medical student. “I got to see firsthand how social determinants of health, like where you live and work, influence a person.”

This spring, HCC plans to move from our initial pilot (with all 30 students from the Class of 2024) to full implementation, which will also include the 30 students from the Class of 2025 and the additional 60 new students from the incoming Class of 2026 in the fall semester. Claudine Johnson, M.D., joined us recently to lead the HCC program.

Student News

I also want to mention our involvement with the Health Career Collaborative, an initiative by the American College of Surgeons that seeks to provide mentorship, an engaging and interactive health curriculum, and exposure to health careers to high school students from low-income, underrepresented minority communities.

Our on-campus Health Career Collaborative is directed by second-year medical students Nabeel Ahmad and Ashlynn Mills. They were assisted by 14 medical school student mentors and Ashley Schwartz, a valued staff member, and supervised by Dr. Kenya Steele, assistant dean of Diversity and Outreach. Our inaugural cohort included 30 students from the 10th grade at Jack Yates High School.

The group worked with Yates scholars from September 2021 to February 2022, meeting every 2 weeks, culminating in the high schoolers presenting scholarly research about health topics of their choosing. Their research topics included: Hypertension, Ovarian Cancer, Sports Injuries, Schizophrenia and Smoking. The students did a phenomenal job of describing the conditions, diagnostic criteria, treatment options, impact on our communities and connecting solutions for community members.

Health Career Collaborative Group Photo

Faculty News

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Rowland and Dr. Briscoe for their new roles:

Kevin C. Rowland, Ph.D. is the new chair of our Department of Biomedical Sciences, effective December 1, 2021.

Donald A. Briscoe, M.D. is our new associate dean of Medical Education, effective January 1, 2022.

Also, please welcome to the faculty ­–

David Curtis, Ph.D. He is joining as clinical associate professor in the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences and chief of behavioral health for the UH Health Family Care Center.

Claudine Johnson, M.D. She joins us as clinical associate professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences and academic director of the Household-Centered Care program.

Jiangtao Luo, Ph.D. He joins us as a Clinical Associate Professor of Biostatistics in the Department of Health Systems and Population Health Sciences.

DICE Participation

We are participating in an important national initiative – the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Council of Deans (COD) Collective Action Initiative on Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) by completing its Diversity, Inclusion, Culture, and Equity (DICE) Inventory.

The DICE Inventory is a tool to help institutions conduct a comprehensive review of institutional policies, practices, procedures, and programs that impact the climate and culture around DEI and identify strengths and areas for improvement in six key areas: governance, leadership, and mission; institutional planning and policies; communications and engagement; data and assessment; faculty and staff; and students. This project is a collaborative effort that will be led by stakeholders from across our medical school and university and completed between February and May 2022.

We look forward to doing this important work, learning from it, and improving ourselves. We will update the campus community on the findings and the development of related action plans to further our DEI efforts at the UH College of Medicine.

Offering Thanks

I would like to express heartfelt thanks to Harry and Debra Kuehler, longtime Houston residents and UH College of Medicine supporters, for their $200,000 gift to go towards scholarships.

They shared their reasoning behind the gift:

“The pandemic exposed many inequities in our nation’s health care system, especially the lack of physicians serving within our communities of color. We were impressed with the UH College of Medicine’s immersion approach to train future primary care physicians and provide medical students the opportunity to regularly visit neighborhoods to learn firsthand about the real-life health and social issues affecting patients’ wellbeing. We want to invest in this innovative model for training the next generation of medical students.”

Also, mark your calendars for March 7, 2022! It is the University’s 95th birthday and an opportunity to support UH and our students through UH Giving Day. You can also check out the UH College of Medicine page on the site.

In ending, I am grateful for all the collective energy, vision, and hard work each of you brings to our UH College of Medicine and look forward to another amazing year.

Kind regards,

Stephen J. Spann, M.D., M.B.A.
Founding Dean, College of Medicine
UH Vice-President for Medical Affairs
Humana Endowed Dean’s Chair in Medicine
Phone (713) 743-7047
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