Associate Dean for Student Affairs, School of Medicine
The University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) School of Medicine invites applications and nominations for the position of Associate Dean for Student Affairs. Since accepting its first class in 1970, UMMS has provided students with an accessible, comprehensive and personally rewarding education, preparing them to excel as caring, competent, productive physicians in their chosen career. Accepting approximately 125 students a year, most residents of Massachusetts, UMMS has prided itself on creating a warm, collaborative environment where faculty and administrators are open to new and creative ways of serving the students and the state.
Reporting to the Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs will be expected to bring strategic vision, a commitment to student success, and strong management skills to play a major leadership role in this highly regarded public institution. The position requires a leader who will serve as a role model, bringing the ideals of medicine to the students, with a proven track record of leadership in student affairs, an understanding of the particular challenges facing medical students, and outstanding communication and organizational skills.
A 15 member search committee has been appointed and the search process will be administered under the oversight of the Office of Educational Affairs.
University of Massachusetts Medical School
The University of Massachusetts Medical School, the state’s first and only public medical school, was founded to provide affordable, quality medical education to state residents and to increase the number of primary care physicians practicing in underserved areas of the state. Their mission is to advance the health and well-being of the people of the Commonwealth and the world through pioneering developments in education, research, and health care delivery with their clinical partner, UMass Memorial Health Care. Its network of clinical care includes community-based physician practices, home health, hospice, rehabilitation, and behavioral health services. Over the last two decades, UMMS has drawn international acclaim as a research institution with a significant and dynamic capability in translational medicine, as recognized by its receipt of a prestigious, NIH-funded Clinical and Translational Sciences Award (CTSA). UMMS researchers are at the epicenter of the development of RNAi – the breakthrough identified by Science magazine as one of the top discoveries of the past decade and the awarding of the Nobel Prize to Dr. Craig Mello in 2006.
A local, regional and statewide health resource, UMMS shares its campus with the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and the Graduate School of Nursing. Beyond fulfilling its core missions of health sciences education and public service, UMMS is home to a thriving biomedical research enterprise.
Federal and private research grants and contracts reached more than $240 million in fiscal year 2010, making UMMS one of the fastest-growing research institutions in the country.
Currently ranked among the best medical schools in the nation for primary care education by U.S. News & World Report, the School of Medicine has a foremost responsibility to provide students with an accessible, comprehensive and personally rewarding medical education of the highest quality and one that optimally prepares them to excel as tomorrow’s physicians—caring, competent, productive and fulfilled in their chosen career serving a diversity of patients, communities and the health sciences.
The school is committed to training in the full range of medical disciplines, with an emphasis on practice in the primary care specialties, in the public sector and in underserved areas of Massachusetts. In 2012, 69% of the graduating students chose one of the primary care specialties, 18% chose surgical specialties and the others chose specialties including anesthesiology, pathology, radiation, radiation oncology, and physical medicine and rehabilitation. As the sponsor of educational and service programs in health care throughout the Commonwealth, UMMS is a local, regional and statewide health resource. It is distinguished from other medical schools by its unwavering support of public service, as exemplified by the breadth and depth of voluntary service and community activism of its students.
Other campuses are located in Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth and Lowell.
The curriculum at UMMS has been recognized for the diverse clinical training of students, preparing them for career choices beyond medical school, whether in primary care or the medical specialties. In parallel with this exceptional clinical preparation, the institution’s fast-paced growth, leadership and worldwide recognition in health sciences research offers extraordinary research opportunities for students.
After four years of planning, the School of Medicine has undergone a comprehensive process of reshaping the curriculum to align with six competencies for medical education: physician as professional, scientist, communicator, clinical problem solver, patient and community advocate, and person. The new Learner-centered Integrated Curriculum (LInC) is now in place, with the first year of the new curriculum inaugurated with the entering class of 2010. The newly redesigned LInC education program features comprehensive integration of the clinical and basic sciences; enhanced flexibility in the educational methods that offer hands-on, team-based small group learning; technology enhanced educational methods that support independent, self-directed learning; personalized, continuity-based mentorship with dedicated faculty through the learning community model (see below for more details); and an opportunity for all students to engage in scholarship and scientific inquiry through a capstone project experience.
To support the new curriculum, the school’s educational facilities have been renovated and expanded to create the “ideal learning environment” that will best prepare today’s students as tomorrow’s physicians. Among these enhancements are recently renovated anatomy labs with computer technology at each dissection table; upgraded classrooms and amphitheaters with campus-wide wireless connectivity; an integrated Teaching and Learning Center (iTLC) that serves as a cutting-edge “technology-infused” classroom for interactive small group learning, high resolution AV systems and computer-based testing; an on-campus “clinical skills center” with dedicated space for students to practice and learn techniques in clinical skills and physical diagnosis from expert faculty mentors; and five-student group study rooms, each dedicated to one Learning Community (see below). Additionally, students continue to benefit from a nationally recognized standardized patient program that serves all four years of the curriculum; a UMMS Simulation Center that provides comprehensive simulation resources including high-fidelity manikins, task trainers and computer-based “virtual” simulation dedicated to UMMS learners; and, finally, an expanding network of community-based faculty across Massachusetts whose practices provide students with an immersion experience in doctoring and the opportunity to develop their relationships with patients from the first days of medical school.
The School of Medicine’s educational program has been enriched through national grant awards that promote quality, innovation and national distinction in medical education. UMMS’s educational program has benefited in recent years from major investments in state-of-the-art educational technology and medical simulation and will continue to benefit from additional enhancements housed in the Albert Sherman Center, a new research and education building on campus. The Sherman Center’s state-of-the-art educational resources includes the integrated Center for Experiential Learning and Simulation (iCELS), a 24,000-square-foot comprehensive, full-service simulation center, as well as a 10,000-square-foot facility dedicated to supporting the five houses of the school’s Learning Communities.
The educational mission of the School of Medicine is further enhanced by 53 ACGME - accredited residency and fellowship programs; cooperative degree programs with area colleges and universities; diverse community-based education programs across Massachusetts; outstanding achievements in clinical and translational research in the health sciences; and the Commonwealth Medicine division, dedicated to serving the state’s broad community of health care and service agencies.
Three years ago the school launched an ambitious re-organization of its students into Learning Communities. Dividing the students into five houses, the school has appointed 20 faculty mentors, each assigned to teach and advise a small group of students within the houses. The mentors have provided continuity of student support; robust clinical skills development; and a foundation for ongoing lifelong learning beyond medical school. The mentors have assumed a great deal of the advising and communication workload and communicate frequently with the Office of Student Affairs, who oversees the program jointly with the Office of Undergraduate Medical Education.
Student Affairs at UMMS
The Associate Dean for Student Affairs (ADSA) serves at a variety of interfaces between the school administration and the students. Through ongoing communication with the Learning Community mentors, the faculty, and, above all, the students, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs provides a number of critical services for the UMMS community.
• Medical Student Performance Evaluation – The MPSEs, or Dean’s Letters, are one of the more important contact points between a medical student and the Office of Student Affairs. Working within the AAMC guidelines, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs is responsible for communicating to residency programs all of a student’s assets and abilities demonstrated over four years of medical school. These letters require not only knowledge of each student in the program, but of the unique and specific challenges of the curriculum.
• Policy and Procedure – The Office of Student Affairs is responsible for producing the Student Handbook and serves as a school-wide resource and arbiter for questions on policies and procedures. Additionally, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs sits on the both the Clinical Science and Basic Science academic progress boards and is expected to be an authority on the school’s regulations regarding advancement or dismissal.
• Student Advocacy – In addition to serving as the student’s voice on the progress boards, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs also acts as an advocate for students to a variety of internal and external constituents.
• Communicating Academic Progress – The ADSA plays a crucial role in helping students understand their movement through the UMMS program. Through regular orientation sessions and a variety of communications from the Office of Student Affairs, the ADSA is responsible for conveying to students their requirements for successful academic progress.
Three Assistant Deans currently report to the Associate Dean for Student Affairs in the following areas: Student Advising, Student Academic Achievement, and Diversity/Minority Support. The ADSA also receives support from, and is responsible for the management of the Office of Student Affairs staff that includes an Administrator for Student Affairs/Director of Student Services, and an Editor, who also serves as Administrator for Evaluation Boards and Special Projects.
In addition to the responsibilities listed above, the ADSA also has oversight and management responsibilities in the following areas:
• Enrollment management – Ensuring that all records and rosters are up to date and student status is accurately tracked.
• Professionalism and learning environment issues – Ensuring that programs meet LCME standards of professionalism and working with students to help them understand what is required of them in a professional environment.
• Advancement and promotion, including Honors boards – Overseeing the transition of cohorts and properly recognizing outstanding students.
• Diversity and minority student support, including GLBT issues – Maintaining a campus-wide commitment to tolerance, diversity and inclusion and avoidance of bias.
• Residency planning and career guidance – Preparing students for their residencies by helping them understand the process, and their options, for matching into the residency of their choice.
• Personal advising/mentoring – Working with the Learning Community mentors and the Center for Academic Achievement, the ADSA helps students work through problems that may occur in both their personal and their academic lives.
• Overseeing the Advanced Studies Lottery for required sub internships for UMMS students as well coordinating electives for visiting students.
• Student wellness and student life – Promotion of a culture of health and well-being among students.
• Student mistreatment – Ensuring that UMMS students are treated with respect in both clinical and academic settings and following up appropriately when mistreatment is alleged.
• Student policies regarding information access – Providing up-to-date and timely responses to students’ requests for access to their records that align with all relevant regulations.
Key Challenges and Opportunities
The roles and responsibilities of an Associate Dean for Student Affairs vary from institution to institution. Typically, this individual is involved with student advocacy; creating, disseminating and implementing institutional policies and procedures; representing the institution and the profession to students; advising and counseling students; as well as serving as a role model to students. The associate dean’s position will create an opportunity to both build upon the reputation that has been established for this Office, as well as to address the other emerging challenged in student affairs at UMMS and nationally. :
Advocate for students to both internal and external constituencies.
With a unique insight into each student and the challenges that may arise, the ADSA is expected to provide the student perspective to faculty and UMMS review boards. In clinical settings the ADSA will also ensure that students are treated with respect and their academic needs are being met.
Assist in the process of matching students with their desired and clinical residencies.
For those students anticipating a career in clinical medicine, attaining the residency of their choice is often the culmination of their medical school experience. The ADSA will play a key role in that process by helping to prepare students so that they feel confident that they will be selected by their desired institution or program. By using his or her knowledge of the student and of the specialty into which the student plans to enter, the ADSA should be a resource to help students select the appropriate institutions at which they would be likely to “match”, write letters of support for the students, and advocate for their selection in their desired program.
Oversight and Management of the Integrated Learning Communities program.
Working with Learning Community Mentors and the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education, the new ADSA will be involved in a review of, as well as establishing priorities and new initiatives for the Learning Community Program. This will also entail working to more fully integrate the role of Learning Communities mentors in student professional development and help the Learning Community mentors attain a more consistent level of support to better address student needs.
Proactively address issues around student wellness, including work-life balance, mental health, and stress management.
There are a variety of resources on campus to ensure that students are as healthy and happy outside of class as they are successful inside the classroom. In concert with other providers of these services, and student-driven initiatives, the successful candidate will work to marshal available resources to address student health and wellness by creating a coordinated program. It is anticipated that this resource will become a proactive one, rather than just available when a student is confronted with a problem.
Enhance diversity and address the needs of a more diverse student body.
Though most/all traditional UMMS students are residents of the State of Massachusetts, increasingly they are coming from a widening array of undergraduate education experiences and socio-economic backgrounds. The Medical School has an ambitious plan to continue this trend through outreach to undergraduate institutions throughout the state and the ADSA will play an active role in their transitions to the rigors of a medical education. As diversity increases, a broader array of support services will likely be necessary.
Manage student data and information so that it is accessible and actionable for other campus partners.
Currently, the Office of Student Affairs manages its own database of student information that is used within the Office for tracking student progress and for writing the MSPEs. However, there is a strong desire that this database be converted into a shared entity from which other offices may extract or input student information when necessary. The successful leader will be able to balance the flow of information that comes into the Office of Student Affairs with the need to share timely information with a range of other constituent offices, such as Financial Aid, Registrar, Academic Support, and Mental Health Services.
Serve as a resource for faculty and students to answer questions and solve unique problems.
The Office of Student Affairs at UMMS has evolved into a reliable point of contact for students, faculty and staff. The new Associate Dean for Student Affairs will be expected to know students personally and provide support, guidance, and encouragement when needed. The next ADSA should be able to continue this function by providing a welcoming and safe space for students to air concerns, as well as to provide timely and accurate responses to faculty and staff questions.
Qualifications and Experience
The ideal candidate will possess most, if not all, of the following characteristics:
• Five years of experience working in a medical school student affairs environment, or equivalent role that requires close contact with medical students as learners, trainees, advisees, or other related student affairs-related functions;
• Progressive leadership responsibilities and advancement in an appointed leadership role in medical education;
• A completed terminal degree, preferably an MD/DO; PhD considered
• A demonstrated ability to manage staff and execute programs;
• Outstanding communication skills to represent UMMS to external audiences, including potential partners;
• An understanding of the future of medicine and medical education that will help UMMS become a leader in preparing students for practice;
• A vision for how an Office of Student Affairs can advance the goals and stature of a school of medicine;
• An orientation towards listening to student concerns and advocating on their behalf;
• Outstanding organizational skills to manage a busy office during times of increased needs, such as the preparation of the MSPEs;
• Technological savvy to manage and augment a vast student database;
• Adept relationship building; the ability to work collaboratively within the Worcester campus and to connect with all members of the UMass community; a tendency to be inclusive rather than exclusive;
• A personal commitment to and the requisite skills to advance diversity;
• Demonstrated trustworthiness, integrity, and exceptional character;
• A UMMS faculty appointment is required and will be awarded commensurate with applicant qualifications:
Inquiries, nominations and referrals should be sent in confidence to: Melissa Puliafico, Administrative Director, Office of Educational Affairs. UMMS applicants should also request written acknowledgement from their department chair supporting the candidate’s interest in the position. This written acknowledgement should be submitted along with the candidate’s CV and cover letter.
UMMS is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer, UMMS recognizes the power of a diverse community and encourages applications from individuals with varied experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds.