Leaders in Medical Education

Dr. Danny O. Jacobs, Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch

Osmosis Team
Published on Sep 1, 2016. Updated on Invalid date.

Dr. Danny O. Jacobs serves as the Execute Vice President, Provost and Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch. As Provost, he serves as an advocate and advisor for all students, residents and members of the faculty and staff. Dr. Jacobs earned his bachelor’s degree in Biology from Harvard University in 1975. He then went on to work as an assistant and associate professor at Harvard Medical School in 1989 and 1993. Today, Dr. Jacobs spends his time at the University of Texas, working both on the administrative side and medical side, as a general surgeon.

How did you decide on a career in medicine?

  • Giving back re: service to public

  • High Expectation from Mother, Father and extended family

  • Research and Public service could be combined easily

  • Hard work.

What were a few key steps in your journey from an aspiring medical student to your current position as Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston?
Great friends, counselors, advisors, and mentors from all “walks-of-life” who have given great advice.  Those folks coupled with “fire in the belly” (i.e., desire) helped me get through my formative years.  Thereafter, the key was to do the best job I could with any opportunity that was offered to me.

What is the greatest difference between the clinical side of medicine and the administrative side?
On the administrative side, I am very much more likely to have to deal with “systems” and events or issues on a “macro level.”  It is very different from the intimacy associated with and expected in my career as a general surgeon.

What does an "average" day look like for you?
I have “project” weeks alternated with “meeting” weeks, sprinkled with social events and other job duties and responsibility that occur off-hours.  Typically, I am up by 6 a.m. and get home by 6:00 p.m. I work out most mornings, (often with my wife Nancy), nap around 9 p.m. often and then I am back up working between 11:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.  This schedule works well for me.

What was/were the most memorable experience(s) during your medical education?
Some of my most memorable experiences were having lunch with Dr. Jonathan Evans Rhoads, an internationally known surgeon who pioneered the development of intravenous nutrition, when I was a resident.

What are most the important facets of an undergraduate’s application to medical school from an admissions perspective?
One of the most important facets of and undergraduate’s applications, besides demonstrating an ability to handle the necessary course work, is having emotional intelligence.  The applicants ability to handle complexity and, perhaps most importantly, being absolutely sure that one has a true love for medicine that will lead one to enjoy coming to work every for the entirety of one’s career.  This translates to “you gotta have the love.”

How do you foresee medical education changing in the next few years?
I believe the future will be more team-based with physicians assuming more of the role as facilitator and counselor coordinator.  Analytics, including responsibilities in many instances as team leaders.  Therefore, curriculum with increasingly emphasis on learning how to function in teams, embracing meta-academic principles and understanding how to access and analyze data in the context of managing personalized medicine.  Therefore, competency based coursework will be increasingly emphasized.