The search for an executive director for the newly formed UT-Erlanger Medical Group is under way.
The first board meeting of the nonprofit is expected to be held in January, said Kennard Brown, executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, during a recent UT board of trustees meeting in Knoxville.
The UT-Erlanger Medical Group Inc. will be an umbrella over the hospital's employed physicians in specialties ranging from pediatrics to internal medicine to cardiology. It also will support development of fellowships in specialties, including gastroenterology, critical care, colorectal surgery and cardiology, officials said.
The purpose of the initiative is to "strengthen and expand the development of high-quality medical education, research and clinical care, and public services between Erlanger and the university in Southeast Tennessee and surrounding regions," Brown said.
Last year, Erlanger and UT announced the creation of the physician practice group. Its aim is to help grow academic programs at the teaching hospital and its affiliated medical campus and to boost physician recruitment and retention.
The UT-Erlanger group will be physician-led. The board of directors will include Erlanger's chief executive officer and chief financial officer; UT dean of Chattanooga and assistant dean of clinical affairs; and five physicians elected from among doctors employed by or contracted to the corporation.
The university and Erlanger have been in talks about the partnership for two years, Brown said. It took this long, he said, because they wanted to make sure everyone had an opportunity to give an opinion.
Board of trustee members John Foy and James Hall said it's a win-win for the university and the hospital.
"It's good for the city and Erlanger as well as for the university; it's a good collaborative effort," said Foy.
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center has had a significant presence in Chattanooga for a number of years, said Hall.
"It's the academic arm, really, of the medical effort in Chattanooga. This partnership is going to be extremely important in raising the profile of ... [the University of] Tennessee as well as the hospital," he added.
Right now, the [UT] college of medicine and Erlanger are separate, "where the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing," said Brown. "We are trying to meet the academic mission of the university, the clinical services of the hospital and the community's needs."
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center also launched a new pediatric specialty faculty group practice with Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis.