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Transformative Excellence in Academic Medicine Launches

Even before my arrival in January, I was well aware that Saint Louis University considers the delivery of high-quality, innovative, patient-centered care and the formation of health care professionals among its foremost priorities. This sense of purpose drew me to this great institution.

The University’s strategic plan sets forth ambitious goals for our health care enterprise. One of the plan’s five strategic initiatives is to become “…a Market Leader in Health Promotion and the Highest Quality Medical Care.” This initiative’s two primary goals are: 

  1. We will model a holistic approach to integrating health professions education, biomedical and broader health-related research, and the provision of health and medical services to the St. Louis community.
  2. We will expand access to clinical services for both the SLU community and the larger community by building on our established strengths in the clinical health sciences.

In today’s increasingly complex and dynamic health care environment, we can only achieve these bold promises through thoughtful and deliberate action. For that reason, we are launching a new initiative called Transformative Excellence in Academic Medicine (TEAM). 

TEAM will help us achieve our strategic goals by broadly examining our structure and function across our clinical, research, education and service missions in the School of Medicine and SLUCare. This comprehensive evaluation will help us meet the needs of our patients, faculty, students, staff and stakeholders, all of whom will be partners and share in our success.  

As you know, the patient-facing activities of SLUCare were not in the scope of Magis Operational Excellence. During my first few months here, it has become increasingly clear that we must engage in a similarly collaborative process to improve how we operate — across our entire academic health care enterprise — so that we are better positioned today and well into the future. Our clinical practice and academic responsibilities are significantly intertwined, and our success depends on the synergies we create to enhance our alignment, increase our productivity and advance our national reputation. 

To guide the Transformative Excellence in Academic Medicine initiative, I will convene a leadership committee comprised of representatives from the School of Medicine and SLUCare who will share expertise, critique data and evaluate options for improvement. As soon as the list of members is finalized, I will share it with you. I am committed to a steady and transparent process, with ways for you to provide input. 

The initiative will begin with a comprehensive assessment of all School of Medicine and SLUCare operations. During the next three months, we will collect data, review performance benchmarks, interview stakeholders, hold open forums and conduct focus groups. At the conclusion of this assessment phase, I will report out key findings and convene teams to seek solutions so that we can implement change as rapidly as possible. 

While this comprehensive assessment of the School of Medicine and SLUCare will unfold over the next several months, the School of Medicine is committed to implementing changes related to organizational structure and academic program offerings — as part of operational excellence — as all other schools and colleges at SLU are doing this year. These changes are expected to be announced in June. 

We are building upon this University-wide commitment to quality improvement by launching TEAM, which will take an even deeper look into our operations and address the bigger questions we need to ask moving forward. Further, the strategic planning work that is underway in the School of Medicine, as well as components our LCME accreditation remediation effort, will inform the larger, more comprehensive TEAM initiative. 

Because this is such a significant undertaking, we have decided to engage Bain & Company to assist us. Our consulting partners have gained a deep understanding of our University and its operations during the past 14 months. They also have extensive experience working with some of the nation’s leading health care organizations. These highly professional individuals will provide hands-on support, guidance, data analysis and expertise. Any final decisions related to this project will be made by our leadership. 

As we move forward with this new initiative and other improvement efforts, our focus remains on enhancing the patient experience, advancing medical research and strengthening the education of future medical and health care professionals through data-driven approaches. 

The University’s strategic plan notes that “no other provider of health care in St. Louis brings the Catholic and Jesuit values of competence, conscience, compassion, and commitment to its daily work.”  We demonstrate our dedication to these shared values every day, and working together we will build an even brighter future for SLUCare and the School of Medicine. I hope that you are as inspired as I am to launch this initiative that will shape — not only our future — but also lay the groundwork for years to come.  

Thank you in advance for your commitment to excellence! 


 Kevin E. Behrns
Vice President, Medical Affairs
Dean, School of Medicine