In July 2019 Donald Brady, MD’90, assumed the role of Senior Associate Dean for Health Sciences Education at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Executive Vice-President for Educational Affairs at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He proudly refers to himself a “Quad ‘Dore” having ties to Vanderbilt as an undergraduate student, medical student, resident physician and faculty member. Prior to taking on his new role in the medical education enterprise, he oversaw Graduate Medical Education and Continuing Professional Development.
Q. What have been your biggest challenges in the first six months as Senior Associate Dean?
A. The biggest challenge has been meeting everyone and building relationships and integrating myself into the wonderful team that runs the education programs in the School of Medicine. Looking ahead, our biggest challenge will be the LCME accreditation site visit in February 2021, which occurs every eight years, and thinking through how we convey our great innovations and cutting-edge leadership in medical education.
Q. What innovations in medical education are on the horizon?
A. We will be taking a close look at the continuum of medical education and if we are really helping students, residents and fellows advance through the system in accordance with their skills. We have data that students gain competency faster than we give them responsibility, and therefore we might be able to help them move forward more efficiently in functioning as a future physician. Some limitations relate to state regulation, some to tradition, and others to issues of trust at the transition points of a physician’s professional development. How do we harmonize and smooth some of those transitions? It affects student debt, people moving through the continuum at the proper pace so they are learning at their leading edge, and the ability to get people into practice faster. That’s part of our AMA Reimagining Residency grant effort over the next five years or so.
Q. You’ve been on Vanderbilt’s campus off and on since 1982. What benefit does that bring to your role?
A. It allows me to bring an understanding of the rich history of Vanderbilt and to personally appreciate the collegial community we have here. The sense of working for and with each other and the focus on building relationships have never been lost. Vanderbilt is much bigger now, with more substantial research and education portfolios and prominence nationally as a leader in both. Nashville is a much more diverse, welcoming and inclusive city, as is Vanderbilt. That has made the School of Medicine a stronger and better place to be.
Q. How do you describe your relationship with the medical students?
A. I really view my role as a servant leader for students, faculty and staff. I have student dinners at my house as well as lunch with leaders to get to know people personally. I view our mission as a school of medicine to ensure that every medical student who comes through here receives the education they need to be an excellent doctor in the future, but also an education that is individualized to their talents and their vision of who they want to be and how they want to grow, whatever that might be.