Dean Jameson’s letter to the Feinberg School of Medicine Community
June 16, 2008
As a valued member of our medical school community, you are receiving this memo in advance of a public announcement that the University will soon release. Northwestern University (NU) and Evanston Northwestern Healthcare (ENH) have decided to terminate the affiliation agreement between the Feinberg School of Medicine and ENH. The phase out of our affiliation with ENH will occur over the course of the next year.
After a long-standing partnership, we have mutually agreed to terminate our affiliation to pursue our own respective visions and goals. We recognize that this decision will impact multiple stakeholders. The decision to disaffiliate is the result of several years of negotiations involving medical school and University leadership, our clinical department chairs, and selected members of the NU Board, as well as representatives of ENH leadership and its Board.
As reflected in our departmental annual reports and external reviews, the relationship between our two organizations has been challenging for years. The key issues regarding this disaffiliation with ENH are known to many of you. The frequently cited issue of financial support to the medical school was certainly important, particularly in view of decades of support of our enterprise by full-time faculty based at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. However, financial support was not the most important issue. More important were fundamentally different ideas about our vision for advancing our academic enterprise, the role of academic leadership in assuring the quality of education and research at ENH, processes for faculty and leadership appointments, and concerns about the relative roles of the clinical affiliates of the medical school. Despite many reasons to continue the affiliation with ENH, we cannot afford to compromise our academic vision and missions, expectations for faculty roles, and the processes that all great universities employ to select their faculty and leaders. In essence, the level of autonomy demanded by ENH was incompatible with an academic culture of collaboration, partnership, peer-review, and accountability.Northwestern University and our medical school remain steadfast and firmly committed to building a great academic medical center in concert with our clinical partners, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation, Children’s Memorial Hospital, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and the Jesse Brown Veterans Administration Medical Center. We look forward to the future opportunities afforded by the robust planning, renewed alignment, and bold aspirations of these medical school partners.
As today’s public announcement will acknowledge, during a transition period Feinberg students and residents in Northwestern McGaw programs will be phased out of rotations at the hospitals owned by Evanston Northwestern Healthcare and transitioned to other McGaw facilities. Some residencies, particularly those based at ENH, may transition to ENH or other sponsorship. In parallel, the status of faculty at these hospitals who hold appointments from Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
I am deeply grateful to our faculty members at ENH who have provided exceptional service to Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. These dedicated professionals have made vital contributions to our trainees and patients and have enriched the culture of our medical school.
We are prepared to move forward with plans for an orderly and amicable separation of our existing affiliation with ENH. Please know that we will continue to meet our obligations to students, patients, faculty, staff, and funders during this period of transition. Over the next few days, my office will provide more specific information to the faculty, students, alumni, and staff members who are most directly affected by disaffiliation. We also will be posting additional information on our website as it becomes available.
ÂJ. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD
Vice-President for Medical Affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine