PEPtalk – September 2014

September 2014

It is hard to believe that we began our sixth academic year last month with 420 students enrolled. There have been many changes in these past years and as I often tell students and faculty, the only constant is change – not to make it more difficult to achieve one’s career goals but to enhance the training so one will be better after graduation.

When I last sent out this communication, our Class of 2016 was focused on studying for the USMLE Step 1. I indicated that they had big shoes to fill as the Class of 2015 had surpassed the national average by six points with a mean of 234 the previous year. Well, they did it and then some.

Currently we have a 100 percent pass record for the class with a mean of 238. Since our charter class took the exam in 2011, our students’ scores have increased 17 points while the national average has only increased four points. This success is multi-faceted. Certainly the students have worked hard under the guidance of all our excellent faculty that includes you. Many second-year students participate in a tutoring program for freshmen that not only helps the younger students but also enhances the tutor’s understanding. We all know we always learn better when we teach someone else. Finally, the Student Academic Support Services under Director Zoe Brown-Weissmann does a superb job keeping the students focused and helps them manage their time so they do a certain number of questions each day leading up to “game day.”

During the college’s first several years, students’ clinical training was based primarily in the facilities of our community partners, Florida Hospital and Orlando Health. The landscape has shifted somewhat of late and now clinical training in the third year occurs in no less than 13 institutions – some more than others – but all very important for the learning experiences of our students. The students take a National Board of Medical Examiners subject exam at the end of each core clerkship. The mean average that the students achieved in these discipline-based exams was above the national average – not just a little, but in many cases three to four points above. This performance followed through to the USMLE Step 2 exam that the students take at the end of the six core clerkships. Our three classes of students have consistently been above the national average by four to nine points. The Class of 2015 currently has a mean of 247, seven points higher than the national mean.

I don’t want to bore you with figures but use these scores to show how well your students are doing in national benchmarks. I continue to be extremely appreciative for what each and every one of you do for the students and hope you are equally as proud. Our partners, where students go for training, are so important in these trying times with reduced healthcare financing and reimbursements. Kudos to them for continuing to support us – I truly appreciate what each of them do.

The AAMC recently had a report about recruiting and maintaining U.S. sites for clinical training. Of the 112 schools that responded, 80 percent expressed concern about the adequacy of sites. Respondents felt that developing new sites in the last few years has been more difficult than it was two years ago. Schools (>85 percent) indicated that the payment for community sites was relatively uncommon for most disciplines.

As you know, placing our students has been challenged with the delay of the Orlando VA Medical Center. Last March, I went before the Class of 2016 and reported that 80 percent of them would be doing one or more core clerkships (4 to 18 weeks) at the Bay Pines VA in St. Petersburg. Bay Pines was established in 1933 and today is the fourth largest VA hospital in the country. Still, students had some real concerns about out-of-community training. However, after only 16 weeks, the students are very pleased with their training at Bay Pines and their subject exam scores are comparable to students doing local rotations. In fact, some students who see the Dean in the supermarket tell her they wished they had signed up for more rotations at Bay Pines.

This year, for the first time, residency program directors were surveyed about the performance of our M.D. graduates as were graduates from the Class of 2013. One program director said the UCF-trained physician “performed extremely well in the first year and had superb medical knowledge. The resident was exemplary with patient care and an excellent communicator.” The director went on to say that the residency faculty voted this resident Intern of the Year. A graduate wrote that “overall I started residency with a strong base – glad to be a KNIGHT.” What a wonderful testimony to your efforts with our students. Thank you.

Promotional Process

From time to time I receive requests about the promotion process for affiliated/volunteer faculty. Nominations are prepared by my office in conjunction with you and are submitted electronically to the College Promotion and Tenure Committee (Non-Tenured). The deadline is September 30. The nomination must contain an appropriately formatted curriculum vitae and three professional letters of reference, including one from the module/clerkship/site director. The Committee makes a recommendation to the Dean in October and she submits the documentation to the Provost’s Office. When approved, changes in a faculty member’s academic rank are effective at the beginning of the next academic year.

  PEPtalk – September 2014


UCF College of Medicine