Dr. David Stern, executive dean of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine, has launched a unique effort to address community health needs in Memphis.
Dr. David Stern, standing, addressed the first meeting of the newly formed University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine Advisory Board.
(The University of Tennessee Health Science Center)
“It’s my belief that a medical school has a very unique opportunity to interact with the community,” Stern said. “I consider our community to be a very important laboratory – it is an underserved, minority community that is in ill health. The biggest contribution we can make is to move the needle on overall community health and to develop new methods that we can apply to other communities like Memphis.”
Stern, who moved to Memphis in 2011 to serve as the chief academic and administrative officer responsible for the College of Medicine campuses in Memphis, Chattanooga and Knoxville, has formed the first ever community advisory board for the UTHSC College of Medicine.
The 18 high-profile advisory board members, including Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr., bring a broad range of experience ranging from tourism and marketing to education, banking and nonprofit management to the table.
David Levine, a business consultant who is the former chairman and CEO of ResortQuest International, was selected to serve as the board’s first chairman.
Stern, who relied on a similar community advisory board when he was dean of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, said he asked Levine to help him assemble a group of Memphis leaders to help identify community health needs, educational, clinical and economic development opportunities and other ways that the College of Medicine can better serve the Memphis community.
“In the clinical sense, it’s very important to me that the medical school meets the needs of the community that other private physicians may not be filling,” Stern explained. “There are gaps in care in some cases – that might mean physicians don’t have skills in certain specialized areas … or it could be a new technique or technology.”
Stern said he hopes to continue recruiting and hiring physicians that have specialized skills that aren’t already found in Memphis. There is no shortage of plastic cosmetic surgeons, for example, he said, but not enough surgeons who are willing to work on patients who need reconstructive surgery or who have craniofacial abnormalities and birth defects. Those specialties are more likely to find a home at a medical school, he said.
Levine, who has agreed to serve a three-year term as the board’s first chairman, said he’s encouraged that Stern wants to build upon existing outreach programs to improve overall community health and wellness in Memphis.
“He’s trying to get medical students and residents engaged in providing health care in the community in the hopes that they will continue to do that when they move on,” Levine said.
Levine said the community advisory board also hopes to create better brand awareness for the College of Medicine and to improve the recruiting process to attract top medical talent to Memphis.
“There are these statistics about Memphis on the Internet that show Memphis is not a safe city – so we need to enhance the recruiting process and help spouses find employment as well,” he said.
The new advisory board also will help identify ways the College of Medicine can address heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other debilitating health conditions that are common in Memphis and the Mid-South.
“I’d like to bring more clinical trials to the area that study some of the key reasons we have such a high burden of stroke and diabetes and heart disease,” Stern said. “Health disparities are a big issue in Memphis. The medical school is going to devote its resources to clinical research, community outreach, and educational initiatives and also really embedding the medical school in the community in a way that makes the school relevant in the community.”
Ken Glass, an advisory board member who also is the retired chairman and CEO of First Tennessee Bank, says the board hopes to identify gaps in medical services and care, but also find innovative ways to make the College of Medicine play an even bigger role in the Memphis community.
“This is a dean that is bringing more resources together to identify how the College of Medicine can be a better and bigger part of the community,” he said.
The community advisory board convened for the first time earlier this month. The next meeting is scheduled for late September. The board also will form individual committees that will focus on key areas and an executive committee.
“I thought by meeting people from different sectors of this community, I could better understand how to make the medical school positively impact the community,” Stern said. “The medical school needs to meet community needs and to provide an outstanding venue for training future doctors.”
The first UTHSC College of Medicine Advisory Board includes:
- George Alvord, retired CEO of Lenny’s Corp.
- Ron Belz, chief operating officer of Belz Enterprises
- Don Colleran, executive vice president for global sales and solutions, FedEx Corp.
- Ken Glass, retired chairman and CEO of First Tennessee Bank
- Rabbi Micah Greenstein, senior rabbi of Temple Israel
- Estella Greer, president and CEO of the Mid-South Food Bank
- Pat Holloran, president and CEO of the Orpheum Theatre
- Bob Hester, senior partner, Deloitte and Touche
- Kevin Kane, president and CEO, Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau
- David Levine, business consultant and former chairman and CEO of ResortQuest International
- Mark Luttrell, Shelby County mayor
- McNeal McDonnell, co-owner and chief manager, Brussels Bonsai
- John Moore, president and CEO, Greater Memphis Chamber
- Mark Norris, Tennessee Senate majority leader
- Ron Pope, director, student engagement, Shelby County Schools
- Mearl Purvis, evening anchor, Fox 13 News
- Jill Steinberg, attorney and shareholder, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC
- A C Wharton Jr., Memphis mayor