Dean's message October 2023

Dear students, colleagues and friends,

Dr. George E. Kikano, M.D., dean of the Central Michigan University College of Medicine.It is hard to believe the CMU College of Medicine has been in existence for 15 years.   We have a lot to celebrate with over 600 graduates either completing their residency training or practicing as alumni in communities here in Michigan and throughout the country. Our research programs in basic sciences, health services research and clinical trials have significantly expanded in the past five years and now account for half of the research attainment at CMU.

Also, I am most proud of our large portfolio of initiatives to improve the well-being and health of communities in mid and northern Michigan. Just a few months ago, we established the Rural Health Equity Institute. The RHEI focuses on rural health priorities and will join forces with local communities to promote well-being, quality of life, and improve the health status of residents. By centering on the unique aspects of rural health, the Institute will ally closely with communities and pursue opportunities that improve access to services, expand telehealth capacity, advance data solutions and tools, and deliver education and training that respond to local needs.

As our parent institution is in the final stages of developing and starting implementation of a 5-year strategic plan to position the university as a leader in higher education in Michigan and the Midwest, I find it necessary to update you on discussions surrounding the future of the College of Medicine.

The College’s vision and mission are solid, and we have a great foundation to continue with an upward trajectory focusing on three areas:

Students – We continue to attract and educate outstanding students to prepare them for residency programs and careers serving communities in need. As we rely on clinical affiliates, we need to work collaboratively with our existing campuses and volunteer physicians to ensure a welcoming environment for our students. We will continue to strengthen the infrastructure of our affiliates and identify an additional clinical campus that can house a large cohort of students.

Research – The field of medicine is changing rapidly, aided by breakthroughs in science and technology. We maintain our focus on research in core areas related to basic science, pediatrics, population and public health. In partnership with our colleagues from University Pediatricians in Detroit and others in Saginaw, we are building an infrastructure to manage clinical trials benefiting patients.

Community Initiatives and Outreach – Leveraging the RHEI and our connection with the Mid Central Regional Area Health Education Center, we will work with community partners who are interested in collaborating on shared community health interests, deliver health education and training opportunities, and forge solutions that improve the health and well-being of rural residents. This approach elevates CMU’s distinct capabilities and expertise in rural health to provide an innovation and collaboration hub serving mid-Central and Northern Michigan.

As the Dean of the College of Medicine, I have dual responsibilities overseeing the operations of the College of Medicine and serving as the Chair of the Board of CMU Medical Education Partners. While the College of Medicine educates students, CMU Partners is responsible for managing the CMU residency programs as well as employed teaching physicians and allied health professionals in the Saginaw region. This dual structure causes unnecessary complexities and duplication of some services. The leadership of the College and CMU Medical Education Partners agree that we need to explore changing this structure to better align our medical educational programs, both undergraduate and graduate, under a unified model. We are in the exploratory stages and hope to have a model outlined in the next few months.

The College of Medicine has been part of expanding health care access in the Great Lakes Bay Region for the last ten years. We were elated when the City of Saginaw received $30 million from the State of Michigan in support of its vision to develop the “medical diamond.” The College already has a large presence in the medical diamond district with an investment of over $20 million in Saginaw, multiple clinical sites, and strong relationships with Covenant HealthCare, Ascension St. Mary's, Great Lakes Bay Health Centers, other health care institutions, and physicians. We are excited to explore our role in this opportunity, which could allow CMU to build upon existing operations in Saginaw, including our medical education programs, and strengthen the relationships we have with health care systems and providers in the region.

As we envision the College of Medicine’s evolution and sustainability, change is inevitable. It is important to recognize that while change can be challenging, it also offers opportunities for growth, learning and innovation which is what our College is all about. As we embark on a new era in our medical education journey, I will keep you updated as planning progresses.

Thank you for your time, talent and dedication.

George E. Kikano, M.D.
CMU Vice President for Health Affairs Dean
CMU College of Medicine