The department of surgery at the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville has spent the majority of the past two years developing and implementing a strategic plan that will guide the department well into the future.
Much work has been accomplished amid the backdrop of a global pandemic that has shaken the operational landscape and stretched care teams in the department and throughout the enterprise. Despite these challenges, the department remains laser-focused on being the region’s most valued surgical health care asset.
The department’s strategic plan has six pillars. They are:
- Building and sustaining an engaged and diverse team.
- Conducting nationally celebrated research.
- Developing multidisciplinary centers and institutes.
- Driving positive brand recognition and penetration.
- Earning the highest patient-experience scores in the enterprise.
- Providing the highest-quality surgical training at all levels.
Each pillar has a leader who guides efforts. The department strives to have all initiatives tie into at least one pillar in the strategic plan to ensure all decisions are rooted with purpose.
The department of surgery features five divisions: acute care surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, general surgery and surgical oncology, otolaryngology, plastic and reconstructive surgery, and vascular surgery.
The surgical divisions span from providing lifesaving emergency surgery and critical care to life-changing elective surgical operations that improve health and well-being. Faculty and staff are committed to providing world-class patient care while delivering high-value educational experiences to the 31 residents, fellows and students. This is all while advancing clinical research to generate departmental recognition at the national level.
Following are key updates from the department:
EXPANDING THE ELECTIVE SURGICAL PRACTICE
The department plans to increase physician recruitment in subspecialties identified as a demonstrated and unmet need in the Jacksonville market. The goal is to perform the majority of elective procedures at the department’s community locations. This promotes access and convenience for patients who may not otherwise use the services.
Benny Tan, M.D., joined the department’s division of plastic and reconstructive surgery in April, coming from The John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where he completed a fellowship in complex gender affirmation surgery and microsurgery. Prior to his fellowship, Tan was a well-established faculty member with Banner Health MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert, Arizona. He has a wealth of experience in breast reconstruction and general plastic surgery, as well as cosmetic aesthetic procedures.
Tan is preparing to launch a transgender surgery center at UF Health Jacksonville. He joins other dedicated providers in various specialties who already provide compassionate and inclusive care. Thriving partnerships with primary care, endocrinology, psychology, gynecology and urology will be hallmarks of the center, representing the full spectrum of care. Tan’s additional services will include chest feminization, chest masculinization and facial feminization, to name a few. Long-term plans are in place for additional gender-affirmation surgical offerings in the future.
Joana Ochoa, M.D., joined the department’s division of general surgery and surgical oncology in July. She is a board-certified general surgeon who came to UF Health from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she completed a fellowship in endocrine surgery.
Ochoa has a special interest in thyroid cancer, parathyroid disease and adrenal disorder. She sees patients at UF Health North, UF Health Emerson Medical Plaza and on the downtown campus.
Meghan Daly, M.D., will join the department’s division of general surgery and surgical oncology in December. Daly, who is coming from AdventHealth Orlando, was recruited to assist in the development and expansion of colorectal surgery, which is her subspecialty.
The department is looking to hire a bariatric surgeon in the division of general surgery and surgical oncology. The bariatric surgery program will be based on the UF Health North campus, which features state-of-the-art bariatric equipment in the outpatient and inpatient setting. As a growing need in the community, the service will help the enterprise achieve its mission to be the region’s most valued health care asset.
LEADERSHIP TEAM EXPANSION
Much focus has been placed on building a robust leadership team to advance the department in several key areas. Below is an overview.
Ziad Awad, M.D, FACS, Associate Chair of Clinical Operations and Quality
In addition to serving as chief of general surgery and surgical oncology, Ziad Awad, M.D., FACS, is the department’s associate chair of clinical operations and quality. In this role, he works closely with Quality and Performance Improvement personnel to monitor key metrics while partnering with providers to optimize clinical quality outcomes. Awad also partners with clinic medical directors and clinic leaders in the development, implementation and evaluation of process-improvement initiatives to address clinical concerns and enhance patient services and satisfaction.
Marie Crandall, M.D., M.P.H, FACS, Associate Chair of Research
In addition to serving as chief of acute care surgery, Marie Crandall, M.D. M.P.H., FACS, has been active in her role as the department’s associate chair of research. She has engaged a steering team to devise a three-year growth strategy to increase publications and funded research within the division.
Crandall provides formalized mentoring for faculty members interested in making funded research a significant portion of their career. An additional focus is to propel research through targeted strategies, such as routine presentations, education of available resources and appearances at grand rounds and social media forums.
James Dennis, M.D., Associate Chair of Education
As associate chair of education, James Dennis, M.D., spearheads faculty development efforts to positively impact the quality of teaching provided to residents, fellows and students. Through one-on-one faculty mentor meetings to review resident feedback, quarterly education seminars for faculty and a thoughtful mentor/mentee matching program, Dennis is helping ensure the department successfully molds the next generation of surgeons.
Brian Yorkgitis, D.O., Associate Chair of Community Engagement
As associate chair of community engagement, Brian Yorkgitis, D.O., works with the department chair and administrator to direct the development of promotional activities via robust community partnerships to enhance the department’s brand standing in the market.
Benny Tan, M.D., Associate Chair of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Benny Tan, M.D., is the first department faculty member to hold the position of associate chair of diversity, equity and inclusion. He will further diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, efforts across the department and assist with efforts to fundamentally change and develop new procedures that foster a diverse and inclusive team of faculty, residents and staff.
Notably, a grant proposal is in development to examine and correlate DEI factors and implicit biases, develop and implement activities that promote DEI across the department, and develop and share a toolbox that includes metrics of success.
The department’s engaged team of faculty, residents and staff is excited about the bright future that lies ahead. Through expansion of service offerings and development of key leadership roles, forward momentum is accelerating to expand the department’s clinical, education and research mission.