Peterson to lead safety initiatives in both medical center and medical school

Dual role is unique in academic medicine

Peterson to lead safety initiatives in both medical center and medical school

Gene N. Peterson, M.D., Ph.D., has joined Virginia Commonwealth University as associate dean for patient safety and quality care in the School of Medicine and chief safety and quality officer for the VCU Health System. The dual role is unique in academic medicine as it crosses over boundaries that traditionally separate domains of clinical work, academics and research.

As chief safety and quality officer, Peterson will be responsible for developing an integrated program that addresses patient safety and improves performance across the spectrum of medical education, including undergraduate medical education, graduate medical education and continuing medical education. He assumed his new responsibilities on Oct. 2.

The position was created through a collaboration of the School of Medicine with VCU Health System’s MCV Hospitals and its physician practice plan, MCV Physicians. Peterson will be in a position to call on the resources of all three entities, including powerful analytical methods and information technology, an extensive program in simulation and an interprofessional education program.

“The dual reporting relationship demonstrates that the VCU School of Medicine, MCV Associated Physicians and MCV Hospitals stand shoulder-to-shoulder in in the commitment to make the VCU Health System the safest health system in the world,” said Jerome F. Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the School of Medicine and executive vice president for medical affairs of the VCU Health System. “It is a model that is unique among academic medical centers.”  

In recent years, the health system has made important advances in its simulation program. A newly opened facility is designed and equipped to support experiential education and provides an ideal laboratory for creating and implementing new programs that provide medical students, residents and faculty members with opportunities to train in a safe, simulated environment.

“We are excited to take this next step in advancing quality and patient safety at VCU Health System,” said John Duval, chief executive officer of MCV Hospitals. “Dr. Peterson will play an indispensable role in ensuring that our clinical and learning environments not only deliver safe and high quality care, but also provide students from all medical disciplines with the required learning to ensure we graduate the next generation of experts in patient safety.”

A board-certified anesthesiologist, Peterson brings to his new role extensive experience in the science of patient safety and quality improvement.   Most recently, Peterson was associate medical director and co-director of University of Washington Medical Center’s Center for Clinical Excellence.  He also was an associate professor at the UWMC in the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine.

“During the interview process I found VCUHS to be an organization that was living its values of Safety First Every Day,” Peterson said. “It is well on its way to becoming the nation’s safest health system for patients, visitors and employees.  John Duval and Dean Strauss are both aligned with their desires to integrate all of our learners into the VCUHS quality, safety and service infrastructure.  This new position is very unique and matched my values and desires to incorporate our residents into the quality and safety infrastructure, not only for VCUHS today, but for the impact these new practitioners will have on the U.S. health system for the next 30 years.  I am excited to be part of the outstanding team here at VCU.”

In 2009, Peterson served on the Technical Advisory Panel for TeamSTEPPS, a program developed by the Department of Defense and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to improve patient safety as well as communication and teamwork skills among health care professionals.

Peterson earned his medical degree from University of Chicago in 1982 and completed residency training in anesthesiology at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine in Seattle in 1985. He also earned a master’s degree in health administration from the University of Washington in 2004 and holds a doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, earned in 1980.

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