Fort Worth

New Fort Worth medical school reflects changing healthcare landscape

New medical school dean discusses Fort Worth’s first M.D. program

Dr. Stuart Flynn, the new dean for the new TCU/UNT Health Science Center arrived in Fort Worth from Arizona where he was dean of the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix since 2008. (Star-Telegram/Max Faulkner)
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Dr. Stuart Flynn, the new dean for the new TCU/UNT Health Science Center arrived in Fort Worth from Arizona where he was dean of the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix since 2008. (Star-Telegram/Max Faulkner)

Dr. Stuart Flynn didn’t move to Texas to create an old-fashioned medical school.

Instead, the first dean of the new TCU/University of North Texas Health Science Center’s M.D. school envisions a program that will tell today’s medical students what they need to know as doctors a decade from now.

That means embracing technology and improving bedside manners and communication skills with patients. The next generation of doctors will also need to be just as comfortable working with other doctors, nurses and pharmacists, he said.

Our ability to communicate with patients I’m not sure it’s ever been great but I think it’s not good right now.

Dr. Stuart Flynn, dean of TCU/UNT Health Science Center M.D. school

“Our ability to communicate with patients, I’m not sure it’s ever been great but I think it’s not good right now,” said Flynn, who was hired as dean of the Fort Worth school in March. “You sit at a keyboard, and when you’re talking I’m clicking away on a keyboard. We rarely look up and make eye contact with you.”

The first class of the new M.D. school is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2018. While the school is a partnership between the two schools, the degree won’t include the Health Science Center until state law permits that to happen. The new school was announced last July.

The Health Science Center had been seeking an M.D. program for several years but couldn’t obtain state approval. It already offers a doctor of osteopathic medicine degree through the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine.

In the future, Flynn believes many of the traditional parts of a doctor’s visit will take place online. For example, a physician may review a patient’s lab work and share the results electronically, leaving more time during the actual visit to talk with the patient.

Currently, doctors are pressed to see more and more patients.

“Your physician does feel very stressed,” Flynn said. “The reason is his reimbursement has gone down and down. He is expected to see more patients per unit time.”

Flynn spoke ahead of his appearance Thursday at a Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the City Club in downtown Fort Worth. The event is sold out.

Won’t be ‘one-size-fits-all’

To deal with the new healthcare landscape, Flynn said, TCU/UNT won’t be “a one-size-fits-all” medical school. Students won’t just sit in classrooms listening to lectures and will take classes at both campuses as well as in Fort Worth’s medical district.

Students today have much more “of a salad bar mentality,” in which some do their work during the day and others at night, Flynn said.

We’re going to have a nimble delivery model that allows the digital natives to come in and come out.

Dr. Stuart Flynn, dean of TCU/UNT Health Science Center M.D. school

“We’re going to have a nimble delivery model that allows the digital natives to come in and come out,” he said. “At the end, they all have to have gotten where they need to get but less so on my terms and more so on their terms.”

At this point, all of Fort Worth’s hospitals have expressed interest in working with the new medical school. It is too early, Flynn said, to know how those relationships will eventually develop.

He also said TCU and the Health Science Center have a good working relationship.

“I love the community,” Flynn said. “When I came here, I knew nothing about it. I sat down with the president and the chancellor and I heard about the Fort Worth way. And I have to say there’s not a thing that has happened that has dissuaded me from that.”

When the medical school was announced, the osteopathic community was concerned about the future of the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Will the two medical schools compete for resources?

We will absolutely work side-by-side and that’s just the end of the story. There won’t be competition. There won’t be one-upsmanship. They’re 46 years-old years old here. I’m very respectful of that.

Dr. Stuart Flynn, dean of TCU/UNT Health Science Center M.D. school on working with Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine

“We will absolutely work side by side and that’s just the end of the story,” Flynn said. “There won’t be competition. There won’t be one-upmanship. They’re 46 years old here. I’m very respectful of that.”

As the founding dean of the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix since 2008, Flynn helped create the curriculum and led the school through obtaining its accreditation.

He helped increase the Phoenix school’s initial class of 24 students to its current class of 80, according to the Arizona Republic. That school, which started as a branch, has graduated 205 doctors with more than half selecting primary-care fields, the Phoenix newspaper said.

The Phoenix school received preliminary accreditation in 2012 and obtained midtier accreditation this year from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the Republic said. Last year, the committee warned that the Phoenix school needed to improve to advance its accreditation.

The Phoenix school began as a branch of the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, and Flynn said there were questions about whether the Phoenix campus was operating independently.

The university needed a greater deal of control from 110 miles away and the accreditation body struggled with that. I mean they want the dean to be the dean and what they found was the dean really wasn’t able to be the dean at the level they wanted.

Dr. Stuart Flynn, dean of TCU/UNT Health Science Center M.D. school, talking about his previous position in Phoenix

“The university needed a greater deal of control from 110 miles away and the accreditation body struggled with that,” Flynn said. “I mean they want the dean to be the dean and what they found was the dean really wasn’t able to be the dean at the level they wanted.”

Flynn expressed confidence that the situation in Fort Worth is entirely different situation.

“That will not happen here,” he said. “My two universities are inside this city. They are all very Fort Worth-centric. They all want tremendous success. The ingredients are here so that part doesn’t concern me.”

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @fwhanna

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