We've entered a transitional time of year in academia. Our fourth year medical students have become freshly-minted MDs, our third year residents are graduating and beginning new positions as attending physicians or are embarking on fellowship training. We are getting ready to welcome a new, rising class of trainees and junior faculty. It is always an exciting time of change. However, this year our celebrations have been dampened by the pandemic, and our new faces will be integrated into the culture and environment more virtually due to physical distancing. It's a reality that also brings us the opportunity to be more intentional about setting a course for our culture as a department and to help welcome our new colleagues into UNMC and the city of Omaha with purpose.
To achieve this, we are beginning a new Connections program to build a peer-mentoring and collaboration group for junior faculty. This will be co-designed with Children's Specialty Physicians to help integrate our medical and surgical teams. Suzanne Haney, MD, Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs, will be leading this effort for the Department of Pediatrics. Additionally, there are faculty and employee resource groups at Children's and UNMC that help bring together colleagues from backgrounds under-represented in medicine to enhance connections and community. Chad Abresch, PhD, Vice Chair for Culture and Inclusion, can help individuals connect with these existing campus groups as avenues for building a welcoming and inclusive environment. Whether you are new to the organization or have been here many years, please consider finding a new way of connecting with colleagues in the upcoming year.
We are also continuing to work with Children's to provide input into the enterprise strategic planning initiative for 2021-2025. The Department of Pediatrics and each of our divisions will all develop five-year strategic plans, aligned with the mission and vision of the hospital and with UNMC. Our Department and Division plans will guide our work and provide focus for our efforts during the next five years. We have much to look forward to: the Children's Hubbard Tower project continues forward; we are recruiting new faculty to expand our clinical and academic expertise; and we are innovating and adapting to a new reality forged through the challenges of the pandemic. Our strategic planning initiative will help us define our path forward, providing us the framework for goal-setting and the accountability to achieve our shared vision of the future.
To paraphrase what the Cheshire Cat told Alice in Wonderland, if you don't know where you want to go, it doesn't matter which road you take. My vision for us is to continue to provide world-class care close to home for our patients, to educate the next generation of pediatricians and pediatric specialists, and to expand our academic pursuits and enhance our national reputation. It's with that end in mind, that we embark on preparing and planning for the next five years. Thank you for your contributions toward making this vision a reality.
Kari Simonsen, MD
Chair of Pediatrics
Professor, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases