VPMA finalist touts ‘outcomes-based’ approach

Carethers cites broad range of experience at candidate forum

Establishing a leadership vision in academic medicine that “raises the bar” for growth was a key theme for John M. Carethers, MD, the first of two finalists for the position of University of Iowa vice president for medical affairs and dean of the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.

John Carethers, MD, is one of two finalists for the role of vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Carver College of Medicine.

“I’m the type of person who is outcomes-based,” said Carethers, professor and chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “That’s highly important not only so that everyone understands your direction, but also for transparency across the board.”

Carethers, a gastroenterologist and colorectal cancer researcher who also is professor of human genetics at Michigan, made his remarks during an open forum late Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 3, in the Prem Sahai Auditorium Medical Education and Research Facility (MERF).

Approximately 150 people—predominantly UI Health Care and university faculty, staff, and students—attended the event. After the forum, Carethers greeted attendees at a reception in the MERF Atrium.

During his presentation, Carethers, who earned undergraduate and medical degrees at Wayne State University in his hometown of Detroit, characterized his career as one of unique opportunities and steady leadership development—beginning at the University of California, San Diego, where he eventually became chief of the gastroenterology division. As chief, he was instrumental in landing a gastroenterology center grant and doubling the division’s research portfolio.

Taking the leadership role as chair of internal medicine at Michigan in 2009, he fostered a vision for the department.

John Carethers, MD

“That vision was to be the example of a Department of Medicine across the nation,” Carethers said. “People were going to follow us. We were going to lead in how we managed our NIH (National Institutes of Health) research portfolio. We were going to be the leaders in our clinical quality and operation as well as in our training. Our goal was not only to train people who would go out there and be good internists, but to be future leaders. That was our mantra.”

Carethers cited numerous accomplishments at Michigan:

  • Nearly doubling the number of the clinical faculty in internal medicine
  • Strengthening a culture of philanthropy
  • Growing primary care services and partnering with other health systems in the state to ensure adequate numbers of patients for medical education and training
  • Chairing an LCME (Liaison Committee on Medical Education) committee as part of the college’s re-accreditation process
  • Serving on search committees for a vice president for medical affairs, cancer center director, and chief nursing officer
  • Maintaining an ongoing research program with steady funding from both the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and the National Cancer Institute
  • Valuing the university as an “institution for all” and emphasizing the recruitment of a diverse faculty as one key to enhancing student diversity

The second finalist will visit campus Monday, Oct. 9, and also will participate in an open forum and public reception from 5 to 6 p.m. in Prem Sahai Auditorium, MERF. Their name and curriculum vitae will be released at least 24 hours prior to their arrival.

In terms of negotiating skills and the resolve necessary to lead the nearly $2 billion enterprise that is UI Health Care, Carethers expressed confidence, along with a touch of humor.

“My threshold, in general, is fairly high for things I can tolerate—this is from having come from a family of 12, so I learned to negotiate early on,” Carethers joked. But he added, “In my department, I have outcomes, and I have expectations. I hold my chiefs to certain standards to get things done.”

The campus community is encouraged to review Carethers’ curriculum vitae and provide feedback on the candidate through the search committee’s website.