New name, new attitude at USF
The university has pulled medicine, nursing and public health under one umbrella to foster faculty interaction.
By LISA GREENE
Published September 28, 2005
TAMPA - Medical students at the University of South Florida are taking classes alongside nursing and physical therapy students.
Nursing and public health faculty members are helping design a $60-million health center where specialists will travel to see patients, instead of the other way around.
Both are part of a plan to change attitudes and culture in what used to be called USF Health Sciences: the three colleges of medicine, nursing and public health, along with the division of physical therapy.
To symbolize the change, the schools switched Tuesday to a new name: USF Health.
"It really defines almost everything you do," said Dr. Stephen Klasko, dean of the medical school and vice president of USF Health. "We are having faculty think differently."
In more traditional medical schools, USF doctors said Tuesday, faculty members in different disciplines have little contact with each other. Often, even doctors in different specialties rarely talk.
"In most universities, if you get your dean of medicine, dean of nursing, and dean of public health in the same room, that's unusual," said Klasko, who participated in a convocation Tuesday with the deans of nursing and public health and other USF officials.
In the new environment, USF leadership is pushing the faculty to interact more. For example, Klasko said, 60 different USF researchers are studying aspects of racial and economic disparities in health, but they rarely talked.
USF hosted a social hour to encourage them to learn more about each other's research, then asked for grant proposals. The first rule: The proposal had to include faculty members in different colleges to receive funds.
Some efforts are more informal. It wasn't the university, but second-year medical student Samuel Crane who went to the different colleges to organize an international health service group. Last month, a group that included medical, public health and nursing students went to Ecuador to help provide safer water supplies in communities there.
A public health student, Desirae Nasrallah, said students are now working together more in local events as well, such as health fairs.
Since Klasko arrived last year, he has set up new models for clinical and research specialties in key areas. So far, there are three: cardiovascular services, women and children's health, and sports medicine.
In the traditional system, heart surgeons and cardiologists would work in different departments. In the new models, the academic departments will still be separate. But patient care and research are part of a new program and supervised by a chief executive officer for that area. Newly hired heart rhythm specialist Dr. Anne B. Curtis, for example, leads the cardiology division, but also is director and CEO of cardiovascular services.