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Robert Wood Johnson
"When you have two practice locations to draw from within
that subspecialty, it's more feasible to recruit patients for
those trials," Dr. Dhib-Jalbut explains.
With two medical schools within Rutgers, another advan-
tage is recruitment and retention of faculty. In one instance,
they were able to retain a faculty member within Rutgers who
had decided to relocate, by offering him the opportunity to
work at the sister school.
There are some drawbacks. "Distance between the two med-
ical schools is not trivial," says Dr. Dhib-Jalbut. For him per-
sonally, that means several hours of commuting a week.
Another issue is coordinating meetings and avoiding scheduling
conflicts--but the deans have helped to minimize such con-
"Whether dual chairs will work for large-size departments
remains to be seen," Dr. Dhib-Jalbut says. "But dual division
directors is more realistic, in my view."
In the future, Dr. Dhib-Jalbut sees the joint chair as an
opportunity to develop service lines that offer cutting-edge
patient care and clinical research across the state. "Ultimately,
this is about connecting people, services, and missions in a
cost-effective manner," he says. "Broadening opportunities
for trainees, developing different types of thinking that ulti-
mately benefits patients--all of which are advantages."
In the end, the success of a dual chair/director structure will
depend on faculty and leadership jointly committed to the idea,
backed by investment and resources that incentivize collabora-
tive initiatives. Whether the whole will be greater than the sum
of its parts will eventually be measured by quantitative outcomes
relevant to the Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences mission.
Chen Liu, MD, PhD
hen Liu, MD, PhD, professor and chair, Departments of
Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Robert Wood
Johnson Medical School and New Jersey Medical School
(right), knows, as we all do, that change is inevitable. And in
health care, change is often rapid and unpredictable. "We
have to convince everyone to embrace change and be proac-
tively thinking about how to build a better system in this new
paradigm," says Dr. Liu. He believes that the dual chair role
he plays can be good for the students he teaches, the patients
he serves, and the profession as a whole.
Like Dr. Dhib-Jalbut, Dr. Liu sees the opportunity to use the
strengths and weaknesses of both schools to complement each
other. The schools each have a long history and respected legacy.
They have their own way of doing things, along with different
cultures, missions, and even patient populations. "Merging all
of those differences--and getting everyone on the same page--
is where there is tremendous potential," he says.
The possibilities are ready and waiting to become reality.
Goals include creating more efficiencies in the clinical service
delivery system and providing better opportunities for education
and research. Dr. Liu admits they will take some time. But they
will eventually become advantages for both institutions.
There is a greater potential, in Dr. Liu's eyes, for what he calls
systemic chairs. "Every health system is looking for efficiencies,
facing the same dynamic to keep growing," he says. Helping to
grow a program into a bigger one benefits both schools. So do
sharing expertise, standardizing processes, reducing duplica-
tions, reducing the waste of resources, and, in general, unifying
leadership. "We can do more than individual departments can
do working this way," Dr. Liu says optimistically.