This chart is hung on the door of every new patient in our bone marrow transplant unit. As you can see, these patients – and their providers, family and friends – closely follow our lab test results for the 4-5 weeks of their in-patient admission. We often consider ourselves to be behind-the-scenes members of the healthcare team, but our results clearly are not – the information that we provide is a key measure of the patient’s progress and needs. We are an important part of this complex treatment plan – and a key player in creating collective excellence.
This particular chart belongs to a friend. Recently, I have had several friends hospitalized here at UCDMC for serious illnesses. They all depend on our collective excellence. Before choosing UCDMC for their care, each of my friends had visited UCSF to explore treatment options. Each were so happy to discover that we had outstanding, leading-edge treatment at UCDMC. They were relieved that they wouldn’t have to travel two hours or more and battle traffic for appointments and follow-up visits. They were comforted to know they could stay near family for support. A few even chose to give back as a participant in a research study and signed the consent. This is exactly why UCDMC was established here 50 years ago and what inspires us today –it is our mission and our privilege to support our community and empower our patients through outstanding care that is enhanced by our research and educational environment. The contributions of many – clinicians, scientists, staff, students and more — from different health professions, medical specialities, scientific disciplines and other backgrounds creates our collective excellence.
“Collective excellence” is actually a new phrase in my vocabulary. I was introduced to this phrase and concept just a few weeks ago by a faculty candidate who told me about a recent white paper on collective excellence from the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) (1). In this white paper, collective excellence is defined as “making the whole more than the sum of its parts.” The paper emphasizes that our missions of research, education, and service are interdependent and synergistic (1).
This concept of collective excellence captures my fancy, especially with Lab Week just a few weeks away, because I think this perfectly and concisely describes what we are all about and what we do in all aspects of our work. I see many ways in which we practice collective excellence in our department:
- Our research faculty have a well-established tradition of team-based multi-disciplinary science and are a strong example of collective excellence. The scientific interests and backgrounds within our faculty are diverse and their collaborations across UC Davis schools and colleges make them important members and leaders within multi-disciplinary centers, including the Alzheimer’s Disease Center, the MIND Institute, the Cancer Center, the Center for Comparative Medicine, and the Center for Pediatric Regenerative Cures, and also within a wide-range of multi-disciplinary graduate groups. These relationships create synergies where research expertise benefits education as well as translation to clinical medicine and vice versa. The recruitment now in progress to fill our newly combined position for the Stowell Chair for Experimental Pathology/Director for the Center for Comparative Medicine is in itself an example of leveraging collective excellence across schools and units, and an opportunity for greater excellence yet to come.
- Our broad range of clinical laboratory sections and subspecialty talent offer outstanding services that are far more than just the sum of their parts. This collective excellence enhances the work of our clinical partners to improve patient care, but just as importantly, we make our clinical services and talent available for clinical and translational research as members of collaborative teams, and through our Clinical Research Oversight Committee and our Biorepository. Our collective excellence has contributed to renewal of our NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, to establishing a new Colorectal Center for Excellence, and to bringing cardiac transplantation surgery in-house in just a few months, just to name a few great examples.
- Our educational programs rely on collective excellence since it takes a village to educate healthcare professionals. The most recent example is our new Clinical Informatics Fellowship program which brings together the collective talents of our health informatics graduate curriculum, our clinical expertise in many medical specialities, our hospital IT talent including program director and Chief Medical Information Officer Jeff Wajda as our program director, and our wonderful relationship with industry partner NeoGenomics who has provided an educational gift and opportunities for collaborative research. Likewise, our residency program includes long-standing partnerships with the Sacramento VA Medical Center, the Coroner’s Office, and relationships with other UC Davis Health departments and centers to collectively create the educational, clinical, and research experiences necessary to grow the next generation of pathologists. Our clinical lab scientist training program involves the collective excellence of all of our laboratory sections, plus relationships with several community medical centers, including Sutter and our most recent addition, Marshall Hospital. Likewise, our cytotechnology training program requires the collective participation of multiple partners, most especially the University of Nebraska.
April is the month for Lab Week, so I think this is an ideal time to recognize our collective excellence. In all of our laboratories – clinical and research – let’s celebrate our tradition of collective excellence which is at the heart of our mission to improve lives and transform health. I appreciate the devotion and contributions of everyone in our department and our many partners. Thank you for contributing to the care of my friends – especially my friend having the bone marrow transplant — and many more patients like them.
1) The pursuit of collective excellence in research at the University of California. University of California Office of the President, 4/16/2017. https://www.ucop.edu/research-graduate-studies/_files/research/documents/Collective%20Excellence.pdf (Accessed 3/25/2018).