Dean's Message, March 2023

Mar 30, 2023

Two months after assuming this new role as your interim dean, I feel a little like someone who merged onto a busy highway where speed limits seem to be only a suggestion. Yes, I hit the ground running, but the ground sure does appear to be moving faster.

One of the many things I prioritize in this role is the opportunity to communicate with you all in as many ways as possible. The more we talk, the better off we’ll be as the College of Medicine takes on new challenges while sustaining and building upon the mission that we are known for.

I have enjoyed (most of) the many meetings that come with this job and that have allowed me to engage more with faculty, staff and students from both the central campus and our regional campuses. One thing I have learned is that viewing the landscape through a new prism yields fresh perspectives that will be helpful as we continue to evolve.

I already knew from my role overseeing academic affairs and medical education that there are important and vacant positions for which we must bring in talented and mission-oriented faculty. I’m happy to report that this effort is making progress. A number of quality candidates have visited over the  past month and I’m optimistic we will soon announce new hires. Help is on the way.

Some meetings are less formal, such as being able to engage with so many creative minds outside the office walls. The 19th annual Research Fair reminded me of impacts our faculty, students and staff are having in discoveries with the potential to improve health and support the work of the many new clinicians we produce each year.

In concert with this annual display of innovation in discovery, we continue to progress in recruiting the next successful group of graduate students.

At the recently concluded spring clerkship directors’ meeting, held in conjunction with Match Day, we were joined by FSU Provost Jim Clark, who shared with our regional campus leaders and others the vision the university has for supporting this medical school in ways that will benefit all.

The highlight of the week, of course, was the Match Day ceremony, where a record number of M.D. students (125) are now able to begin shifting their thoughts toward the next step in their medical education. Our students matched with top programs in Florida and across the country. 

A less visible (for most) event soon followed with the annual Council of Florida Medical School Deans’  (CFMSD) Day held at the State Capitol. The CFMSD includes the leaders of Florida’s 10 public and private osteopathic and allopathic medical schools and provides an opportunity for them,  along with students and/or residents from three to four  of the schools each year, to meet with legislators, regulators and representatives from the governor’s office to discuss issues of mutual interest  in medical education, as well as hear their priorities. Representing the FSU College of Medicine with me for the day were Associate  Dean for GME Bill Boyer; third-year M.D. students Christian Cunningham (Tallahassee Regional Campus) and Bertis “Tripp” Taylor (Marianna Rural Program); and Dr. Gizem Reyhanoglu, a second-year resident in our Internal Medicine Residency Program at TMH.

As one class of M.D. students prepares to finish up and move on to  its next chapter, our long recruiting effort to bring in the next class is also winding down. With it comes great promise for another outstanding group of medical students who will begin their studies here in late May.

You’ve no doubt seen on our website news about the development of FSU Health, which includes a new building located near Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare and funded through a $125 million appropriation from the Florida Legislature. I have been meeting regularly with Provost Clark, Vice President for Research Stacey Patterson and other deans to ensure the College of Medicine’s needs are met as we take on the responsibilities that come with such growth. That includes the emergence of FSU Health, our role in allowing TMH to earn the valued distinction of calling itself an academic health center, and the development of a new “medical campus” in Panama City Beach with the St. Joe Company and TMH as partners.

Since my last message to you, Dr. Fogarty has begun his retirement and his absence in this building has become more noticeable. I’m thankful for the opportunity I had to work alongside him for so long, and I’m now seeing some of the challenges of time management that come with sitting in the dean’s chair.

What also comes with that chair? Getting to know so much more about the valuable contributions you all are making, the challenges you face and the ways we can work together to build on the success stories established through this school’s first two decades.

The best is yet to come.

Alma Littles, M.D.
Interim Dean
Florida State University College of Medicine