May 1, 2020 by
Richard L. Page
Dear Larner Community,
In a week where the United States has surpassed the tragic milestone of 60,000 deaths from COVID-19, we are seeing many encouraging signs and we are planning for an eventual return to clinical education and resumption of clinical and research activities. UVM and our College intend to provide on-campus education in the fall, even as we all must acknowledge that many changes in daily life will persist. We are at this juncture only because of all our collective response to flatten the curve. Getting back to any semblance of “normal” will require continued vigilance, testing and contact-tracing, with mid-course adjustments based on data and science.
Even as the health crisis appears to be improving, we are coming to recognize the depth and breadth of the resulting economic collapse. Many of you are aware of the serious measures undertaken this week by the UVM Health Network. Our University has acknowledged an uncertain financial outlook with a hiring freeze and other measures to balance the budget. Here at the Larner College of Medicine, we are carefully reviewing our financial situation while exploring options available to us to ensure our financial future. I will be communicating about our budget in the coming week.
In this uncertain and often frightening time, we need to keep in touch, ask questions and share information. I was gratified that close to 300 of us joined our Town Hall on Tuesday. In addition to updates provided by myself and Deans Zehle, Deschamps and Jensen, we were honored to be joined by President Suresh Garimella. It was especially interesting to hear from Dr. Jason Bates, Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering, about the rapid, collaborative and successful development of the “Vermontilator.” A recording of the Town Hall is now online. Our next Town Hall will be in the middle of the work day; I understand that no time is right for everyone, so our start times will continue to vary in an effort to be family-friendly and inclusive.
The first of May has long been celebrated in many ways throughout the world. For the Larner College of medicine, today is the first anniversary of our Statement on Professionalism. Many of us are reminded of these principles when we attach our name badge, walk through the Hoehl Gallery or log onto our computer. As I re-read this Statement, I am again impressed that the diverse and committed task force that developed the first draft helped us get this right:
Our Larner College of Medicine community upholds the highest standards of professionalism as we follow our passion for lifelong learning and improvement. We demonstrate professionalism through integrity, accountability, compassion, altruism, and social responsibility. We honor the trust our society has placed in us as stewards of the art and science of medicine, relying on cultural humility, kindness, and respect to guide our daily interactions. We expect all members of our community to embrace these principles of professionalism as we strive to conduct and support patient care, research, and education that are second to none.
Over the last year, I have been proud of the way our community has embraced these principles. For a year now, every student, staff and faculty member that we have welcomed to our community has learned about our “True North”. In the last two unimaginable months, I’ve seen amazing examples of professionalism in our staff, students and faculty—from selfless commitment to clinical care, to inspirational gestures to provide for the underserved. Our words are important. Our actions are even more so.
Although we are unable to celebrate together, we will mark this anniversary by highlighting professionalism throughout the month of May. Look for examples to be showcased online and in social media, and help us identify exemplars who otherwise might go unnoticed.
I am tremendously grateful for all you do, as we continue to face challenges every day. Things will not always be this way. Please stay safe and continue to look out for the ones you love and for those who are in need.