“Evolution of the OUWB” featured as part of OUWB Medical Education Week


The defining characteristics that have shaped Oakland University’s William Beaumont School of Medicine into what it is — as well as a vision of what it will be — were highlighted Wednesday by its dean.

Duane Mezwa, MD, Stephan Sharf Dean, OUWB, presented the 2022 William Davidson Lecture, as part of the 11e Annual Medical Education Week.

Mezwa spoke about “The Evolution of OUWB: Building a Path to Continuous Excellence” to an audience of approximately 450 people, in person and online.

Among other things, Mezwa discussed the OUWB’s 2022-2025 strategic plan, efforts to continue reducing student debt while increasing activities in the areas of research, philanthropy and community engagement, new programs and plans for updating O’Dowd Hall.

“It is truly a privilege to be part of (OUWB) history as the second dean,” he said. “Not only am I grateful to be forever linked to the school, but I am honored to continue and expand on the vision of the founding administration.”

Mezwa shared how the OUWB opening ceremony always reminds her of the school’s influence on graduates, especially when each class recites their oath.

“Thinking about their future motivates me to guide current students through their incredible medical school journey, and to lead and encourage our faculty and staff to be innovative, compassionate and engaged,” he said.

Grateful forever

Lynda Misra, DO, Associate Professor, Department of Neurology, presented Mezwa with a special plaque in honor of being this year’s Distinguished Lecturer.

Mezwa first spoke about the school’s evolution over the past 14 years, beginning with the 2008 decision by Oakland University and Beaumont Health to establish Michigan’s first allopathic medical school in over 40 years.

He noted that OUWB’s founding dean, Robert Folberg, MD, intended to develop a program where kindness and focused listening were taught and emphasized. Mezwa also credited the OUWB founding team with essentially creating a new kind of medical school.

“We continue to build on their hard work,” he said. “We will always be grateful for their courage to take professional risks and we hope they will always be proud of OUWB.”

Recent highlights mentioned by Mezwa included the 20-year extension of the school’s affiliation agreement with Beaumont and the reaccreditation of OUWB in 2020 by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME).

He also noted that OUWB students continually place themselves in some of the most competitive and prestigious residency programs in the United States.

“Across the country and in Michigan, they are making their mark as senior residents and fellows, and — just as Dr. Folberg predicted — are recognized for their compassion,” he said.

Take on the challenge

Mezwa spoke about ongoing activities and addressed two issues identified by the LCME: the need for more physical space and the trends and trajectory of student debt.

As for space, Mezwa said planners are working to create more teaching areas at O’Dowd Hall for smaller groups. He noted that the OUWB had recently gained 5,000 square feet of space on the first floor of the building, which will accommodate 10 new classrooms.

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Mezwa showed an early rendering of the type of entrance envisioned for O’Dowd Hall.

Mezwa also revealed an early rendering of the type of entrance envisioned for the eastern entrance to O’Dowd Hall.

“It will be a very warm and inviting space…a place to gather (and) where we can have receptions,” he said. “It will be a wonderful new addition.”

Mezwa said all planned construction projects are pending approval by the Oakland University board of trustees.

Addressing the issue of student debt, Mezwa noted that he and others were working hard to reduce student numbers and one of the ways was through scholarships.

Another measure taken to combat student debt has been to keep tuition fees flat in two of the past three years. Mezwa also said that creating new endowments and growing existing ones is the “number one priority” of the OUWB development team.

Successes have already been seen: the total amount of scholarships received by OUWB students has increased from approximately $6.1 million in 2019 to approximately $9.4 million in 2022, with the total number of scholarships being increased from 220 to 552 during the same period.

Mezwa said several other ongoing philanthropy-related programs, such as virtual “Dinner with Dean” events and the first OUWB golf outing, are reconnecting the school with alumni and parents.

Look forward

Mezwa highlighted many OUWB programs in place that will serve as the foundation for the continued evolution of OUWB.

Poverty simulation, for example, is now part of the health promotion and maintenance curriculum for first-year medical students. Students engage in a shared experience that illustrates some of the structural barriers, as well as some of the potential personal and emotional impacts experienced by those living in poverty.

OUWB also remains committed to engaging with the community. The number of recorded hours of extracurricular community service activities increased from 243 in 2015-2016 to 12,644 in 2020-21.

Mezwa also highlighted OUWB’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. He highlighted the OUWB’s Diversity Liaison and Diversity Champion programs as well as the Diversity Speaker Series.

“OUWB is committed to creating an environment where all students, faculty, staff, and guest visitors from diverse backgrounds and life experiences feel a sense of belonging, are engaged, and are valued and respected for their voices and their contributions,” he said.

New initiatives on the horizon include the Holocaust and Medicine program, the OUWB body donation program, and the creation of the Center for Moral Values ​​in Medicine.

“Focused on all the right areas”

OUWB Medical Education Week exists in large part because of the late William Davidson, a successful businessman and founder of Palace Sports and Entertainment. In late 2007, Davidson initiated plans to donate $1 million to Beaumont with the express direction that the money be used to support medical education under the direction of his physician and friend, Sandor H. Shoichet, MD, FACP, Program Director, Internal Medicine Residency and Medical Director of Outpatient Clinics at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, and Associate Professor of Medicine at OUWB. Davidson died in 2009 at age 86.

Ann Voorheis-Sargent, Ph.D., director of the Center of Excellence in Medical Education and co-chair of Medical Education Week, said Mezwa’s presentation was appropriate for Medical Education Week.

His hope is that those who have seen Mezwa speak understand that the OUWB is “continually moving forward”.

Others who saw Mezwa speak were encouraged by the future of the OUWB.

Lewis Rosenbaum, MD, director, Beaumont Executive Health Services, and associate professor, Department of Internal Medicine, said he appreciates OUWB’s approach to medical education.

“The focus not just on scholarship and skill building, but also on developing the person to be a better person overall…is the wave of the future,” did he declare. “OUWB is at the forefront of this.”

Rosenbaum added that he “can’t say enough good things” about Mezwa’s leadership.

“It’s completely focused on all the right areas and really makes (OUWB) a first-class medical school,” he said.

Barry Franklin, Ph.D., professor, Department of Internal Medicine and director, Preventive Cardiology/Cardiac Rehabilitation, Beaumont, shared similar sentiments.

“The future (of OUWB) is very, very bright,” he said. “The resources here are huge…it’s just about getting people out of their silos and working together to create a synergy that will take us into the future.”

Stefanie Attardi, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Basic Medical Studies, said she appreciated Mezwa’s update.

“(Because of the pandemic) it’s been a long time since we’ve been together and looking at school performance as a whole,” she said. “With my role as a faculty member, it makes me think about where I should be going with my teaching, research and services…to align with the direction the school is taking.”

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, Marketing Writer, OUWB, at [email protected]

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

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