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TEAM Update: Institute Model Announced

The School of Medicine’s department chairs and executive leadership team met on Thursday, July 27, to discuss our vision for the future. Our mission compels us to integrate our academic, research, and clinical strengths to teach the next generation of physicians, care for patients in a compassionate and culturally competent way, and advance discovery.

Currently, we are not where we need to be. Our specializations operate in silos, which impedes accountability, discourages us from sharing information across teams, and prevents us from collaborating meaningfully. Consequently, we are not reaching our potential in patient care delivery or financial performance.

Our mission calls us to be leaders, to act boldly, and to do better. Based on the results of our recent organizational culture survey, it is clear that you agree change is required for our organization to succeed in the future. So, we will make bold changes in the School of Medicine and SLUCare to help us achieve our mission and deliver quality and growth in all our missions.

We will create the medical school of tomorrow – impacting how our students will be taught, patients will be treated, and research will be conducted. 

We believe the best way to achieve this vision and our mission is to move our organization to an institute model that leverages the power of our academic, research, and clinical skills to enhance outcomes for all. A few other organizations, such as the Cleveland Clinic, Stanford Medical and a few others, have adopted a similar integrated approach. However, we truly will be at the forefront of innovation in the field of academic medicine as we plan to fully embrace the interdisciplinary, institute model across our entire organization. 

Institutes will be organized around conditions or concerns that reflect the patient perspective, rather than traditional boundaries of subspecialties. Teams of dedicated health care providers and scientists – educators, researchers, and clinicians -- will work together to solve the patients’ underlying problems and deliver great outcomes, enhance our academic offerings, and propel research. 

For patient care, we will create an integrated practice unit that delivers differentiated and high-value care that revolves around the patient instead of forcing our patients to navigate our system. Along the way, we will provide a continuity of care that removes structural barriers, reduces variability in care, and centralizes infrastructure. 

Under the model, basic science researchers will work more closely with clinicians and patients, a requirement to successfully compete for extramural funding. As part of the same team, basic scientists and clinicians will discuss how to translate scientific ideas into patient care and how challenges encountered during treatment could spawn new research ideas. 

Building upon the rigorous basic science education, students will learn how to apply scientific knowledge in a practical setting. Throughout their education at SLU, our students will gain deeper knowledge as they see this close clinician-scientist interaction routinely modeled and experience first-hand the intersection of research and patient care, a boundary that accelerates innovation. 

Further, an institute model yields benefits that are wide-reaching and transformational for both quality and growth: 

  • Enhanced clinical care with a patient-centric approach
  • Better alignment among clinicians and a focused group of basic and applied scientists
  • Enriched education experience through inter-professional teaching
  • Elimination of siloes within the clinical practice and departments
  • Improved financial results through increased volume, administrative efficiency, and better resource utilization
  • Increased research grants and highly educational clinical cases
  • Improved recruitment and retention of high quality faculty and faculty leaders, who will be excited by breakthrough thinking 

This approach will not simply restructure our organization; it represents a holistic change to our patient care delivery model and to our mindset about how an academic medical center should fuel knowledge and discovery. 

While I realize change can be daunting, we are at a critical turning point for the future of the School of Medicine and SLUCare, and the status quo is not sustainable. We expect this transformation to take about 18 months, and we will immediately begin diligently outlining the formation of institutes, moving thoughtfully and methodically as we plan for a successful deployment across our organization. Through the process, we will enlist your help to support the change effort and continue to be transparent in our communications as we develop and clarify the path forward. 

In closing, I thank you for your continued support and relentless pursuit of a brighter future for the School of Medicine and SLUCare. Please reach out to or visit for any questions, feedback, or comments. 

Kevin Behrns
Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean
Saint Louis University School of Medicine
1402 South Grand Blvd M268
St. Louis, MO 63104
Phone: 314-977-9801