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Dean Hess highlights initiatives to prepare healers, transform health and improve outcomes for Hoosiers

Hess_Spring Faculty Meeting

Dean Jay Hess provides an update to the school community at the Spring Faculty Meeting

Dean Jay L. Hess, MD, PhD, MHSA, updated the IU School of Medicine community about efforts to continuously strengthen the school’s research and education programs and to improve the health of the citizens of Indiana. His address – delivered during the Spring 2019 faculty meeting — also highlighted initiatives to support faculty, staff and learners.

The following are key takeaways from his remarks:


Scholarly Concentrations

Indiana map showing locations of Scholarly Concentrations programs

IU School of Medicine launched a Scholarly Concentrations program in 2019 that capitalizes on the strengths of the school’s nine-campus system.

IU School of Medicine is launching a Scholarly Concentrations program this summer. The program draws upon the expertise of faculty at all nine campuses and provides students with the opportunity to engage in scholarly activity beyond the standard curriculum, without adding time or expense to their medical education.

A sampling of available topics include: Ethics, Equity and Justice; Care of Hispanic/Latino Patients; Health Information Technology; Quality and Innovation in Health Care; and Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.

“Certainly, these scholarly concentrations will offer students a competitive advantage when applying for residencies, and they will help foster important connections between students and faculty mentors,” Hess said. “But beyond that, our hope is that our learners will continue to focus on these areas of scholarly inquiry throughout their careers. This will provide a creative outlet outside of their clinical work. And above all it will ensure that we have an even better health care system in the future.”

Read Dean Hess’ Direct from the Dean column about Scholarly Concentrations

Residency Expansion

IU School of Medicine is addressing a physician shortage – particularly outside of Indianapolis – by partnering with hospital systems to expand residency training around the state.

Other residency expansion programs are being explored in Northwest Indiana and Bloomington.


IU School of Medicine experienced record NIH funding in federal fiscal year 2018.

IU School of Medicine scientists and physicians brought in nearly $150 million in research funding from the National Institutes of Health in federal fiscal year 2018—up 10 percent over the previous year and 54 percent over five years. The school secured nearly $340 million in research funding from all sources in the most recent fiscal year.

Hess said part of the school’s research strategy involves focusing on areas in which IU School of Medicine has significant expertise and the ability to be one of the top programs in the country. Through the IU Precision Health Initiative, the school is making strategic investments and recruitments in these areas. They are:

  • Multiple myeloma
  • Triple Negative Breast Cancer
  • Pediatric Sarcoma
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s disease

“These programs are growing and thriving, and helping us to recruit top talent,” Hess said. “We are well on the way to leading the transformation of health care in these priority areas.”

Learn more about the Precision Health Initiative.


Hess emphasized that part of the school’s vision is to “make Indiana one of the nation’s healthiest states.”

“This will not be an easy task,” Hess said. “Indiana is near the bottom in nearly every major health indicator. As the state’s medical school, we have a responsibility to address this. We must move the walls of our hospitals and clinics and partner with communities if we are going to improve the health of all Hoosiers.”

Community Health

Hess noted that IU Health shares this commitment and has hired Karen Amstutz, MD, MBA, as vice president of community health. She will develop and implement community health programs, with an emphasis on reducing infant mortality, smoking and obesity and increasing behavioral health services.

Behavioral Health

IU School of Medicine and IU Health are also partnering to recruit a new leader focused on behavioral health—a vital role given that Indiana ranks 42nd when it comes to mental health, according to Mental Health in America 2019. This individual will have a dual appointment as both vice chair of clinical affairs in the Department of Psychiatry and IU Health vice president of Behavioral Health Collaborative. Specific goals will include:

  • Delivery of effective inpatient and outpatient psychiatric care across the lifespan
  • Integration of behavioral health services in the primary care setting
  • Expanding addiction services
  • Improving access to onsite and follow-up behavioral health services for emergency departments

Read Dean Hess’ Direct from the Dean column about improving Indiana Health.


Hess noted that IU School of Medicine cannot expect to improve the health of others if members of the school community are not healthy themselves.  The dean acknowledged the nationwide problem of physician burnout and emphasized that he is committed to ensuring that faculty and students continue to find joy in the practice of medicine.

The school, in collaboration with IU Health Physicians, is recruiting an associate dean and chief wellness officer. This individual will coordinate and capitalize on work that has already begun across the system to foster a culture of wellness and mitigate burnout among learners, faculty, physicians and advanced practice providers.

Efforts currently underway include expanded mental health services for students and residents across all nine campuses and consistent measurement of burnout among faculty and residents via the Mayo Well-Being Index.

“Whatever we achieve, it is through the work of our faculty, staff and learners,” Hess said. “Without all of you, we are little more than a collection of buildings. Our highest priority is to support you so you can have the greatest possible impact and feel fulfilled in your career.”

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

Karen Spataro

Director of Strategic Communications

Karen Spataro served as director of the Indiana University School of Medicine Office of Strategic Communications from 2018-2020. She is now the Chief Communications Officer at Riley Children's Foundation.