Best wishes, Barbara Ross-Lee

Best wishes, Barbara Ross-Lee

From The Ohio D.O. magazine, Winter 2001

Last fall, Barbara Ross-Lee, D.O., dean of the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-COM) since 1993, accepted the dual positions of vice president for health sciences and medical affairs and dean of the School of Allied Health and Life Sciences at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT). Ross-Lee began at NYIT in February.

“While it is with deep regret that I leave the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Ohio University, this new position will allow me to broaden my involvement with osteopathic medical education, as well as with allied health education and health policy,” says Ross-Lee. “On a personal level, I am looking forward to being together in the same city with my husband, Ed, who has accepted a position in NYIT’s College of Education.”

“We have accomplished a great deal in the past seven years. I am confident that OU-COM is well positioned to continue being a leader in medical education and health-care delivery for years to come. It has been an honor to serve this college and this university as dean.”

According to NYIT President Edward Guiliano, Ph.D., “Dr. Ross-Lee has a national reputation in the fields of health policy and primary care and a history of promoting faculty research, which will help boost our School of Allied Health and Life Sciences to the next level and will enhance NYIT’s visibility in the fields of health and medicine.”

Ross-Lee also is known throughout the medical education world for her accomplishments in modernizing the way future physicians are educated so that they are prepared for the challenges of 21st Century medicine. A strong proponent of training medical students, interns and residents in a consistent, continuum curriculum, Ross-Lee was the driving force behind the creation of the Centers for Osteopathic Research and Education (CORE) system.

The CORE, established in 1995, includes a statewide network of 13 teaching hospitals, where more than 800 medical students, interns and residents train. Ross-Lee has been instrumental in the development and implementation of new curriculums at OU-COM centered on primary care and active learning models. Under her leadership, several departments, including the Department of Biomedical Sciences, the Department of Social Medicine and the Department of Pediatrics, were created at OU-COM, and biomedical science, clinical and sociocultural research initiatives expanded.

The college’s strong track record in training the highest percentage of primary care physicians of any Ohio medical school was strengthened during Ross-Lee’s administration. In 1998, the medical school was ranked number one among the nation’s 143 medical schools in the American Medical Student Association Foundation’s Primary Care Scorecard in the training of family medicine physicians.

Ross-Lee also helped champion the expansion of outreach services to Southeastern Ohio residents through the college’s Mobile Health Unit, which provides immunizations and health screenings to children and adults throughout the region. Her commitment to improving the health of rural Americans was further spotlighted in the creation of the medical school’s Center for Appalachian and Rural Health Research in 1999. Throughout her tenure at OU-COM, she stressed the themes of unity, community, continuity and visibility.

Under her leadership, the medical school developed leading-edge medical education technologies, such as the Ohio Osteopathic Network of Excellence, a videoconferencing system that connects the college, students, physicians and the 13 CORE hospitals. COREnet, an on-line medical information and curriculum resource, was also established.

Through her accomplishments and emphasis on visibility, Ross-Lee helped raise OU-COM into a national leader in medical education, according Ron Portanova, Ph.D., chairman of the college’s Department of Biomedical Sciences.

“Dr. Ross-Lee provided strong leadership and established the COM as a leader in medical education, health policy and community service,” says Portanova. “Among her accomplishments was the establishment of the Department of Biomedical Sciences as an integral unit within the college. This effort was a manifestation of her appreciation of the fundamental importance of the basic sciences in medical education.

“As a medical educator of considerable vision, she has worked to effect important curricular reform based on the integration of the basic science, clinical and social aspects of medical education,” says Portanova. “Her lead in the establishment of the Primary Care Continuum curriculum reflects on that commitment. She has fostered a correct vision of the essence of medical education as a continuum of life-long learning and, through the CORE system, has established postgraduate programs that underscore that vision.”

Osteopathic medical education has benefited greatly from Ross-Lee’s work, according to Douglas Wood, D.O., Ph.D., president of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.

“Her contributions to medical education have been very significant, particularly in graduate medical education,” says Wood. “She left the effort to create one of the most outstanding medical education consortiums – D.O. or M.D. – in the country. The CORE has stepped up to become one of the premier consortiums for educating students, interns and residents – it is light years ahead of most consortiums.”

“Dr. Ross-Lee has always been willing to try new things in the spirit of improving medical education,” continues Wood. “She is at the forefront of curricular innovation, as evidenced by the development of the Clinical Presentation Curriculum at OU-COM, one of the few schools nationally to use this model. She stressed that medical education should be carried out in a logical continuum. Now, more and more medical schools are jumping on the bandwagon.”

“She has also been a leader in promoting diversity in medical education,” says Wood. “This is extremely important to emphasize in education, particularly with the changing face of America.”

“The creativity and enormous energy that are trademarks of Ross-Lee’s leadership brought us real results. She has been a tireless advocate for decent, basic health care for the families in Southeastern Ohio, particularly its children. We wish her well and thank her for her years of devotion to Ohio University and its community,” says Ohio University President Robert Glidden, Ph.D.

After receiving input from OU-COM administration and faculty, Ohio University Provost Sharon Brehm, Ph.D., named Daniel Marazon, D.O., associate professor of family medicine and medical director of the University Osteopathic Medical Center, interim dean of the medical school. A national search for a permanent dean is being conducted.

Brehm praised Ross-Lee’s contributions to education, health care and Ohio University.

“Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee is an inspiration to students and academicians alike,” says Brehm. “Her commitment to family health has led to improvements in basic services to many impoverished families in Appalachian Ohio. Under her leadership, OU-COM has become a national model in the use of technologies for medical care and medical education. We are very grateful for Dr. Ross-Lee’s dedication, commitment and many contributions to the college and to Ohio University.”

OU-COM student leaders credited Ross-Lee with being supportive and accessible, and making them proud of their choice to become osteopathic physicians.

“My first visit with her was as the newly elected student council president, and she imparted to me the importance of leadership and involvement in my profession as a way to secure stability and the ability to practice medicine as I want in the future,” says Ron Routh, second-year student. “In an incredibly tight budget year, Dr. Ross-Lee came up with monies to send a third-year student, who was elected as secretary to the Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents, to all four meetings throughout the year. She was always available to discuss matters of student councils happenings with me.”

“Sharing of her personal life experiences with students – as she did in our orientation – reflected her compassion and vulnerability as a D.O. and encouraged me to maintain an open mind and compassion-driven service toward patients,” adds Routh.

“Dr. Ross-Lee is to be commended for her visibility among the student population,” says second-year student Adan Fuentes. “I first met her while a participant in the Summer Scholars Program. Dr. Ross-Lee’s dedication to minority representation and recruitment programs was made clear to me as she was quite visible and approachable at undergraduate and graduate minority functions. Dr. Ross-Lee thanked students personally for their contributions to the field of osteopathic medicine.”

“OU-COM has truly benefitted from her leadership,” says Fuentes.

The first osteopathic physician to participate in the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellowship, Ross-Lee served as legislative assistant for health to Senator Bill Bradley. She has a strong background in health policy issues and serves as an advisor on primary care, medical education, minority health, women’s health and rural health-care issues on the federal and state levels.

Ross-Lee graduated from Wayne State University with a bachelor of science degree in biology and chemistry and a master’s degree in teaching special populations. Graduating from Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine in September 1973, she ran a solo family practice in Detroit prior to pursuing an academic medicine career. Ross-Lee is a Fellow of the American Osteopathic Board of Family Physicians. She has lectured widely and has also published more than 30 scholarly articles on a variety of medical and health-care issues.

Ross-Lee was appointed in 1999 as a member of the National Institute of Health Advisory Committee on Research on Women’s Health and served as a member of the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She is executive director of the Institute for National Health Policy and Research, and she serves on the board of directors for the Association of Academic Health Centers, the National Fund for Medical Education and the National Health Service Corps’ Association of Clinicians for the Underserved. She also served on the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on the Future of Primary Care.

She was recognized for her contributions to the state and inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame in 1998. Her other awards include the “Magnificent 7” Award presented in 1993 by Business and Professional Women/USA. She has also received the Women’s Health Award from Blackboard African-American National Bestsellers for her contributions to women’s health, the 1994 Distinguished Alumni Award from Wayne State University and the 1999 Alumnus of the Year Award from the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Ross-Lee received the Distinguished Public Service Award from the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine and an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine of the New York Institute of Technology. Most recently, Ross-Lee received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Michigan State University Alumni Association.

From the faculty, staff and students of OU-COM, farewell and best wishes to you, Dr. Ross-Lee.