New Leadership Roles for Team in Undergraduate Medical Education

The Department of Medical Education has three familiar faces taking on new roles and responsibilities at the Miller School. The administration has been reorganized with Alex J. Mechaber, M.D., senior associate dean for undergraduate medical education, now in place as the sole leader overseeing all programs in undergraduate medical education.

Mechaber, whose title has not changed, is taking on the entire enterprise, under Laurence Gardner, M.D., executive dean for education and policy. Previously, Mechaber, associate professor of medicine, shared the educational and administrative leadership duties, but says this structure goes back to an established model of having one leader. “It is a real privilege to be able to lead such a dedicated team as we build on the Miller School’s outstanding foundations to innovate, educate and prepare future physicians.”

Mechaber, a decorated medical educator who has enjoyed national reach in medical education, continues to see patients and teach in a number of courses. He will supervise all aspects of undergraduate medical education to meet the strict demands of a medical education while also supporting the personal needs of students to ensure they achieve their potential. Gardner says, “Alex has done an amazing job developing our medical students, while also overseeing the structure of the programs we have established.”

Part of the reorganization includes promoting Hilit F. Mechaber, M.D., to associate dean for student services, and Ana E. Campo, M.D., to associate dean for student affairs. Both had previously been assistant deans of those programs. Heading up student affairs, Campo, who has been in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Miller School since 1999 and in medical education since 2005, will oversee promotions, discipline, grades, records,
and orientations.

Sometimes, when a student is struggling, “we have to decide how best to help them succeed, both academically and professionally,” Campo says in describing the disciplinarian role. “Sometimes it can be challenging, but I’m looking forward to contributing to graduate the best students.” Campo, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, will continue to teach and see patients.

Working in student services, Hilit Mechaber serves as an advocate, counselor and mentor for more than 700 medical students at the Miller School. She expects to have more oversight and collaboration between the campuses and programs, and continue to develop career and professional path transitions as the students move toward residencies. An associate professor of medicine who also continues to teach and see patients, Hilit Mechaber finds great satisfaction in helping the medical students make the best choices for their careers.

“We have a lot of one-on-one meetings, small-group sessions and workshops starting in the first year to help students begin to navigate this process,” she says. From narrowing down specialty choice to acquiring their own health insurance and meeting compliance requirements, Hilit Mechaber says she focuses on the entire well-being of the student. “We as a team have high expectations of our students, and make ourselves available to help them reach their goals.”

Alex Mechaber, like his wife Hilit, is a UM and Miller School grad. He says students routinely tell them they feel there is a difference, a personal touch at the Miller School that isn’t found elsewhere.

“The students know this team very well,” says Gardner. “We have mentored and developed a very talented group who are stepping in and leading our educational endeavors for the next phase.”

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