Dr. Jennifer Christner shares her educational vision and lessons learned so far as she takes on a new role as senior dean of Baylor’s School of Medicine and School of Health Professions. Read more in this Q&A.
Q: How long have you been at Baylor College of Medicine and what has been your focus so far?
A: I have been at BCM for seven years this June 2022. My focus has been on the School of Medicine undergraduate medical education, graduate medical education and continuing professional development programs.
Q: What does your new role entail?
A: In addition to overseeing the School of Medicine, I now also oversee the School of Health Professions, the Anatomy Education Core/Willed Body Program and the Simulation Education Core. I also oversee the development of our first regional medical school campus in Temple, Texas, as well as the education mission at our affiliates.
Q: Why is it important for School of Medicine and the School of Health Professions to work so closely together? How does this new leadership role help facilitate that?
A: The School of Medicine and School of Health Professions share many things in common such as our clinical training sites, critical accreditation visits, learning environment concerns and, of course, amazing students. It makes so much more sense that I can now advocate for the learners in both schools at the same time.
Q: What has been your favorite part about working at Baylor?
A: The people. I love my teams. I love my co-deans. I love pretty much everyone I get to work with. I am so fortunate that I get to work with super smart people who are also down to earth and amazing. I also love seeing how much we are growing and evolving as an academic medical center. So many positive changes and new developments in the past 7 years!
Q: What have you learned so far in this new role?
A: I think that the need to communicate clearly is something I knew but is definitely reinforced in the new role. I have learned that even though we all are Baylor College of Medicine, processes can be very different in different parts of the organization. Using best practices to maximize efficiency and take unnecessary burdens off our faculty and staff is critical.
Q: What are you looking forward to most in this new role?
A: While each school has its own strategic plan, I believe that there are areas of synergy, and I look forward to proposing a couple of goals that will be common across the schools. Doing this will allow each school to maintain it’s uniqueness and independence while also creating efficiencies and standardization of process. I’m also excited to nurture new education leaders and continue to create an educational environment that is the best in the country.
By Dipali Pathak