Geisel Reorganization Discussed at Town Hall Meetings

Almost 300 people from the Geisel School of Medicine and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock health system turned out to hear an update on work to reorganize the school and provide clarity on the relationship between the two organizations. The goal of the reorganization is to strengthen medical education and increase the impact of the research enterprise while developing a financially sustainable model for the combined academic medical center.

John Birkmeye and Duane Compton
John Birkmeyer, executive vice president and chief academic officer at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock health system, listens as Geisel School of Medicine Interim Dean Duane Compton fields a question at the first of two town hall meetings to discuss the reorganization of the medical school. (Photo by Robert Gill)

In meetings on March 21 at Geisel and March 22 at Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s (D-H) Lebanon campus, officials from both institutions provided an overview of their efforts and responded to questions about what the organizational changes will mean for employees.

“I recognize that this is an incredibly large amount of change that’s going on all at one time,” Geisel Interim Dean Duane Compton said. “We have been asking a lot of our department chairs to help manage this transition. We are asking a lot of you during this transition.”

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He said the goal of the transition “is to create a financially sustainable model for the medical school” that will enhance medical education and research. The changes will also move Geisel’s clinical departments to the D-H system.

As part of the change, Geisel on March 22 announced the formation of the Department of Medical Education, which will increase consistency in the pre-clinical years of Geisel’s four-year medical education curriculum and promote integration of the curriculum across all four years. Professor Rand Swenson was named chair of the new department.

The leadership of Geisel and the College and the faculty has worked for more than a year on the ongoing reorganization, called Building Geisel’s Future. Under this effort, a number of faculty and staff who currently work for the College will move their employment to D-H, Compton and John Birkmeyer, executive vice president and chief academic officer at D-H, told those at the two meetings.

“I appreciate that this is really, really hard,” Birkmeyer said. “We are moving as diligently and as quickly as we can to minimize that period of uncertainty for everybody.”

Compton and Birkmeyer said the changes will allow for more strategic collaboration between Geisel and D-H and will ultimately create a larger, more “impactful research portfolio” for clinical departments within the academic medical center.

“We could be so much better, and I’m doing everything I can on my side to make sure that the new model really helps get us there,” Birkmeyer said.

Birkmeyer said employees would hear soon about whether the transition will affect them. “We’re not talking about months from now; we’re talking about a few weeks from now,” he said.

In order to answer questions about how the transition will affect individual employees, a series of 27 meetings is being scheduled at D-H, beginning April 21, said John Malanowski, chief human resources officer at D-H. Further information on the meetings will be forthcoming, he said.

In addition to offering individual benefits consulting and transition support meetings, the College has contracted with the firm Lee Hecht Harrison to conduct outplacement and career transition services for College employees needing assistance during the transition. The services will be available on-site in Hanover for a period of time, with continued assistance available both online and in the firm’s regional offices.