New School of Health Professions dean wants to educate empathetic healthcare workers

As the academic year roars to life, Baylor College of Medicine’s School of Health Professions is now led by Dr. Todd A. Reinhart, who started his new role as dean in July. He will oversee the School’s four programs: Physician Assistant, Doctor of Nursing Practice – Nurse Anesthesia, Orthotics and Prosthetics and Genetic Counseling.

Before moving to Houston, Reinhart served as dean of sciences and health professions at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota where he oversaw the School of Health and Human Services and the John C. Parmer School of the Sciences.

Todd Reinhart

Dr. Todd Reinhart is the dean of Baylor’s School of Health Professions.

During his first few weeks at Baylor, Reinhart expressed his excitement to take on the role at Baylor and live in Houston. And he wasn’t just talking about the weather either.

Question: How do you feel about coming to Baylor College of Medicine?

Answer: I’m really excited and ecstatic to be here. I feel a good vibe from everyone I meet just walking in the hallways. I’m looking forward to getting a sense of the people and the rhythm of the institution going forward.

Question: You started as a researcher focusing on HIV/AIDS and then studied vascular biology and the lymphatic endothelium. What made you choose research over being a clinician?

Answer: I’m not a clinician, though I have interfaced with care providers and folks in healthcare and public health, primarily in academic health centers, and studied infectious diseases for decades. I took the MCAT the first year it had a written component, but I woke up my senior year of college and was bitten by the research bug and went to graduate school instead.

It wasn’t an “aha!” moment. I was an orderly in the physical therapy department at Hennepin County Medical Center (now Hennepin Healthcare) in Minneapolis during my senior year, and it’s likely part of what changed my mind. I come from a background where my family typically stays the course. But I took a left turn and have enjoyed the journey at every step.

Question: Why did you transition from research to academic leadership?

Answer: I loved research yet I feel as though I have an affinity for academic administration, too. And I really wanted to give back more than I was taking. Health professions have resonated with me because of the educational environment that produces competent, hardworking and empathetic care providers.

Providers often give care to a community’s most vulnerable, and I love that part of the mission.

Question: What are your plans for the School of Health Professions?

Answer: I have a growth mindset and a goal to continue to have a positive impact on the culture of the School while maintaining the high quality of our programs. By maintaining that, we can leverage a number of opportunities.

It’s about finding where new opportunities overlap with our current programming. As I continue to listen and learn, I envision developing strategically valuable academic programs while also working with the faculty to create opportunities for further research.

Question: Is your family transitioning to Texas well?

Answer: I have a wife and two grown daughters; one is an athletic trainer, and the other is in fashion merchandising. We’re used to the excitement of a change like this since we’ve moved around quite a bit, though we were in Pittsburgh for 18 years.

I’ll just have to acclimate to the heat and humidity but am certain I’ll adjust just fine. I liken it to moving to Minnesota in January. The people, arts scene and food have all been wonderful thus far.

Houston feels vibrant, and I’m looking forward to peeling back the layers and getting to know the community.

By Julie Garcia