Wing speaks to med students’ concerns

Friday, September 26, 2008

Despite drawing laughs with his jokes, new Dean of Medicine and Biological Science Edward Wing was there for more than a standup routine. About 50 chattering students, some still in their scrubs, came to MacMillan 117 Thursday to hear Wing introduce himself in a town hall-style meeting, where he heard many of their concerns.

Upon taking the stage, Wing said that the 10 weeks he has been dean have been very busy, as “it takes a lot of work to figure out the politics of Brown.” But, he added, he is looking forward to guiding the Alpert Medical School during its expansion, made possible in part by the $100 million Alpert gift, announced in 2007.

“I have two priorities. One is to build the Med School. The other is to have closer relationships with the (teaching) hospitals,” Wing said.

The former goal is more urgent, Wing said. “We don’t have a home, and (the gift) will allow us” to fund the construction of a new medical school building in the Jewelry District, he added.

Overall, Wing said he was very happy with the direction of the medical program. “This school is terrific and it’s on its way up,” Wing said, adding that the Med School is doing everything it must to improve itself.

Wing emphasized the need for Brown to remain competitive with other medical schools, particularly its northern neighbors. “You know Boston: they’re a bunch of arrogant Puritans,” he said, prompting laughs.

After speaking, Wing opened the floor for questions. Some students voiced their concerns about insufficient funds for traveling to conferences, the plan for green space at the new medical building and criteria for induction to Alpha Omega Alpha, a national medical honor society.

Other students expressed unease at the recent dramatic changes in the Med School, such as the sudden resignation of his predecessor, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology Eli Adashi and the reduction in the proportion of PLME students. Ben Brown ’08 MD’12 said he wanted Wing to know how valuable PLME was and hoped that it would remain a vital part of the Med School.

A concern shared by many students was the lack of library space for studying.

“I need to understand better that issue of what’s lacking,” Wing said, but he added that he is committed to improving the situation.

The library situation has been problematic for a while, said Jasmine Bauknight ’06 MD’12. Because Brown is very “cognizant of its undergraduates” and “tends to forget about its Med School population,” the library hours are based entirely around an undergraduate schedule, Bauknight said. This is a problem because medical students are studying for board examinations during spring break but cannot gain access to the libraries during that time, she added.

Almaz Dessie ’07 MD’11 said she was not satisfied with some of Wing’s responses to student inquiries, particularly in regards to the library issue.

“It seemed like he wasn’t too aware of what was going on,” she said, despite the fact that student groups have been corresponding about study space with Associate Dean of Medicine Philip Gruppuso for the last year.

Dessie also said she was concerned about the direction of the Med School. “I feel that the medical school that I applied for in 2002 is nothing like the one I go to now.”

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