Each school at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) ensures that the programs and courses offered through consortia or contractual relationships are of good quality, are in compliance with comprehensive requirements, and are evaluated against the purpose of the institution at the individual program level. UTMB participates in collaborative agreements with other University of Texas (UT) System institutions, an interagency contract, and consortia arrangements involving a number of partner institutions.
Affiliation agreements are initiated by program directors and go through legal review, if necessary, prior to being sent to the appropriate dean for signature. Copies of the agreement are filed with the legal department, recorded in the affiliation agreement database, and assigned a review date after approval by the dean. All agreements are reviewed by the assigned date by the respective school and a report submitted to the Academic Affairs Council. The Council reviews each agreement to assure alignment with UTMB’s mission and program quality. At this point, the agreement is either terminated or continued with a new review date (1).
Collaborative UT System Agreements
In 2003, the School of Nursing at UTMB developed a program for the Accelerated Second Degree Baccalaureate Program in Nursing in partnership with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Nursing. This program, which started in 2004, had the full support of the deans of the nursing schools at both institutions (2). Faculties from both schools collaborate in the development, delivery, evaluation, and ongoing maintenance of the curriculum for this intense 12-month program.
The program was developed through a curriculum process with input and approval from faculty curriculum committees, deans, and presidents. Approval of the program was obtained from the Board of Nurse Examiners and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in 2004. Faculty and students conduct an annual comprehensive evaluation of the curriculum and courses. Refinements in course content, delivery, sequencing and scheduling occur as a result of these evaluation efforts. The curriculum committees of the respective schools evaluate the proposed changes for compliance with university and accrediting body requirements.
The School of Allied Health Sciences maintains a consortia agreement with The University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB) (3) and The University of Texas at Tyler (UTT) (4) that enables students at those institutions to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Clinical Laboratory Sciences from the School of Allied Health Sciences at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston while attending courses on the distant campus. The Laboratory Education and Advancement Program (LEAP) program is designed for biology majors at those schools and certified Medical Laboratory Technologists in geographic proximity to the UTPB or UTT campuses. Didactic courses are offered from UTMB to UTPB or UTT via video-teleconferencing and/or streaming media over the Internet: labs are completed on the UTPB and UTT campus.
The Gulf Coast Consortia (GCC) includes institutions in the Gulf Coast Region. These institutions include Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University, University of Houston, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. This consortium is one of the largest inter-institutional co-operatives in the world. The GCC brings together the strengths of its six member institutions to build interdisciplinary collaborative research teams and training programs in biomedical sciences at their intersection with the computational, chemical, mathematical and physical sciences. The training arm of the GCC, the Keck Center for Computational and Structural Biology, currently supports over 70 trainees and has over 200 affiliated training faculties. The ability for student to take GCC/Keck member institutional courses that are not otherwise available at UTMB, but recommend for their training programs (such as computer sciences and mathematics) reflects the institutions commitment to establishing relationships that are compatible with, yet enhance the institutional mission. Each of the courses offered at the six member institutions within the GCC/Keck Center have institutional committees that approve and continue to review the educational quality of the courses that might be taken by UTMB students. Commitment to this affiliation at the institutional level ensures that program standards are the same as those for UTMB internally sponsored programs. The president of the university has signed the formal agreement with the GCC (5). The Associate Dean for Research, School of Medicine, UTMB, is a voting member of the GCC and Keck Steering Committees, which meet quarterly and monthly respectively. He represents UTMB and assures that the GCC/Keck continues to align with the goals and teaching needs of UTMB.
Affiliation and program agreements are developed when UTMB schools and partner institutions determine it is mutually beneficial for UTMB students to complete portions of their curriculum in a partner facility. These agreements include an institutional affiliation component and a school/course specific program agreement for each educational enterprise. This process is designed to provide institutional oversight and uniformity, while providing specificity needed for individual courses.
The Academic Affairs Council, a subcommittee of the Council of Deans, has the responsibility for reviewing recommendations for new academic programs and to work collaboratively to insure the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of academic programs across UTMB’s four schools. This group provides institutional oversight for affiliation agreements involving each school, reviews program quality, maintains adherence to accreditation requirements, and ensure consistency with the mission and goals of UTMB.
A Memorandum of Understanding effective September 1, 2007, has been established between Baylor College of Medicine and UTMB that creates a reciprocal agreement for instruction to broaden the educational experience of graduate students at both institutions (6). This memorandum allows graduate students from one institution to enroll in courses at the other institution if a comparable course is not offered at the student’s home institution during the same term.
Seton Healthcare Network
In March, 2005, UTMB and the Seton Healthcare Network (SHN) entered into a 30-year affiliation agreement for third and fourth year medical students, graduate medical education (GME), and research programs in Austin (7). Extension of UTMB’s existing educational and research programs to Austin reflects a plan to diversify the educational and research offerings available to students, residents, and faculty through the research, patient care, and instruction opportunities available in Austin.
Authority for and oversight of medical student educational programs in Austin remains vested in the School of Medicine. Functionally, courses in Austin operate as geographically separate versions of the corresponding courses in Galveston. Accreditation standards of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) require that such experiences remain under the ultimate authority of the School of Medicine, and that such experiences be educationally comparable in both sites. Standards for conducting educational programs in Austin are the same as those in Galveston, including the SACS comprehensive requirements.
The Associate Dean for Regional Medical Education at UTMB works closely with clerkship directors, physician educators, residents, program coordinators and students in Austin and Galveston locations to provide collaborative support among departmental course committees and clinical clerkships. On site administrative support includes a student coordinator, Assistant Dean, and a Senior Medical Educator. The president of UTMB or his/her designee and the president of SHN or his/her designee, serve as the principal points of contact between UTMB and Seton on all matters related to the affiliation agreement, but the agreement stipulates that no provision is intended to contravene any rules, regulations, and/or bylaws that independently govern the affiliated parties.
Clerkship directors and administrators at both sites work together to plan, implement, and evaluate educational programs as well as to provide mentorship to students regarding curricular requirements and expectations. Associate Clerkship Directors in Austin report regularly to Clerkship Directors in Galveston to ensure the same curricular standards are being upheld. Each clinical clerkship is subject to the same review process by the SOM Curriculum Committee. The school tracks student evaluations of their experiences as well as the academic performance and career choices of students in Austin compared to their counterparts in Galveston. Differences, when they exist, are reviewed, analyzed, and when appropriate, changes are implemented. Evaluative data comparing student outcomes is attached.
The School of Medicine maintains an Interagency Contract with UT-Austin to provide student services (health, counseling, recreational, library) at a level comparable to that provided for students in Galveston (8).
Other affiliation and program agreements are developed when UTMB schools and partner institutions determine it is mutually beneficial for UTMB students to complete portions of their curriculum in a partner facility. These agreements include an institutional affiliation component and a school/course-specific program agreement for each educational enterprise. This process is designed to provide institutional oversight and uniformity, while providing the specificity needed for individual courses.