Q&A: UAMS Dean On Important Period in the Schools History

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 87 views 

Before this year, Dr. Pope Moseley had been to Arkansas just once in his life.

It was the occasion of his brother’s wedding in Little Rock, and that was 30 years ago.

But in February, Moseley, 61, was named dean of the College of Medicine and executive vice chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock. He was previously a professor and chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, where he’d spent the previous 20 years.

In his new role, Moseley oversees all aspects of the College of Medicine, the largest college at UAMS with nearly 700 students, 30 departments and free-standing divisions, more than 1,100 full- and part-time faculty members, a professional practice group and 650 residents and fellows.

Moseley said a primary reason why he accepted the job was the opportunity to be a part of an important period in UAMS history. The college is one of the first academic health centers in the country to transition completely to service lines, a new kind of health care delivery in which the outpatient clinics and hospital create a strategic plan to care for a patient through a continuum of care.

During a recent trip to Northwest Arkansas, Moseley spoke with the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal about that topic and a number of others, including his approach to medical education and the future of the Northwest Arkansas campus of UAMS in Fayetteville.

Why did you come to UAMS? What attracted you to this job and this area?

“First of all, the commitment to the state is an important thing. I believe very strongly in the commitment of a state’s academic medical center. And the move to the service lines demonstrates a commitment to placing the patient at the center of the process. Secondly, the organization was willing to take a risk and was willing to move its cultural paradigm. A big question for a new leader is whether or not an organization has the will to modify its culture. And I think that is one of the things you are seeing at UAMS.”

What is a service line model? How is it different than what UAMS had been doing?

“Normally, an academic medical center would deliver its medical care along classic department lines. The department of internal medicine would have a cardiology clinic, lung clinic, intestine clinic and so forth. But if you are a patient, sometimes you need that medicine specialist, sometimes you need a surgeon. It’s better for the patient if you organize the clinics around the kind of services that are needed. That is counter to the normal department-delivered care. But it does put the patient at the center. It’s a very, very good thing for an academic health center to do. I think it’s the way most academic health centers will go. UAMS and a few others are the first to do it.”

What is your approach to medical education and research, and how will that mesh with the UAMS Northwest campus?

“I come from a state that is very much like Arkansas. New Mexico is a rural state, distributed population, relatively small population, that’s had to face workforce issues. I believe Arkansas ranks 48th in number of primary care providers per 1,000 population. We need to do better. We need to improve the health care workforce. There is innovation here. UAMS just went through its accreditation last year and it was found to be very good. One of the ways to increase the work force is to expand training programs in communities that need physicians. The community of Northwest Arkansas fits that category. There is enormous opportunity here. We have a new internal medicine residency that was just accredited, so there will be new residency programs that start next July, and that is a big thing.”

UAMS Northwest is more than just Fayetteville or the Fayetteville campus. What impact does UAMS have on the six-county region? How does it directly benefit residents?

“From a clinical perspective, as dean I am hoping we can do two things. One is to improve access to care. The second thing is the people of Arkansas need to have the option of having any care that they need in the state. You shouldn’t have to leave home to get care. I’m not saying that you need to have the care at UAMS. It just means that we need to make sure that we can give care, that the citizens of the state can get the care they need in this state.”

So when you say “we,” you mean the health care industry as a whole. Correct?

“I believe that, yes. And since UAMS is the state’s only medical school, we have an obligation to help lead that effort.”

What are you particularly proud of from your 20 years at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine?

“I am proud that our department was about 90 faculty members when I arrived and when I left it was 250. We built a large research enterprise by adding a whole bunch of departments and new divisions. We did a whole bunch of new things that provided research opportunities for people and new ways to train students and medical residents, but also provided the needed care. Some of the new things that we built, we built together, as a department and a medical school, to try to say that these are things that you shouldn’t have to leave the state for.”

I understand that bioinformatics is the focus of your scholarly interest. Explain what that is, and where does that fit into your vision of UAMS?

“It is my interest, and one that I think resonates very well with Arkansas and what we are trying to do here. If you think about what differentiates humans from other animals, we are not able to smell scent like a dog or have vision like an eagle. What we do have, and do very well, is recognize patterns. We see patterns. And informatics is about seeing patterns in data. It’s making sense of billions and billions of DNA bases coded by four letters. Asking the questions: What does this mean? What is the pattern? How can I understand what’s happening? That’s an informatics problem. It’s the analysis. And it doesn’t matter whether you are looking at someone’s genes, or looking at someone’s diagnosis of tons of people trying to understand patterns.

“The other thing I will say is that Arkansas is an informatics state. Walmart’s genius is not that they sell shampoo. It’s that they know which shampoo and how much is being sold and where it’s being sold. They see the pattern in the data. It is essentially informatics-based. So what better place to build a world-class informatics program?”

What do you do to relax? When you aren’t being dean of the College of Medicine?

“I am a swimmer. I do an ocean race every year in Hawaii that I like. Before I came here I used to drive a vintage Formula One car but I sold it. Otherwise, as my new colleagues have learned, I like my espresso.”

What are you currently reading?

“I am reading this book called ‘Wanderer’ by actor Sterling Hayden. It’s about how he who suddenly decided to just drop off the grid and sail off to Tahiti. I found it’s someone trying to do something different, just as I was starting to do something different, and that sort of appealed to me. I’m definitely enjoying it.”

Your expertise is in health care, which is, obviously, a tumultuous industry these days to say the least. Why would someone choose to study medicine and enter the health care profession?

“It’s a time of change. It’s excitement. This is where things are happening. It’s where we are learning to adapt. Like I mentioned before about informatics and pattern recognition, in this time of change, being able to apply that human characteristic of pattern recognition is exciting to me.”

If you were talking with a group of incoming UAMS students, what would you most want them to know about you and your hopes for their experience at the school?

“My hope is that they can understand that it is a great privilege to become a physician because you are the person who is allowed to intervene in a person’s life when they are at their most vulnerable. And that is a great privilege to be granted. It is a responsibility, but also a privilege to be able to affect and help someone when they are at their most difficult time.”  

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