Former UTRGV School of Medicine Dean Francisco Fernandez stepped down last month to assist with the development of and recruitment in the psychiatry residency program.
“What I’ll be working on now is really the same opportunity overlapping with the residents to develop expert clinicians in behavioral health,” Fernandez said in a phone interview last July 5.
He announced his decision to step down as dean and vice president of medical affairs June 29, two days after he welcomed the charter class into the Medical Education Building on the Edinburg campus.
“It’s been a two-year process to create and assure that the students were situated in an accredited medical school with a preliminary accreditation in place,” Fernandez said. “This is the perfect opportunity to go ahead and, basically, transfer the experience now to a person who would be able to move that forward along with the clinical activities that would go along with that accreditation.”
Fernandez became dean of the medical school in May 2014 and in 2015 was named a professor at the UTRGV Department of Psychiatry, Neurology and Neurosciences, according to a June 30 UTRGV news release.
The psychiatry residency program was approved last semester by the Psychiatry Residency Review Committee of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
“So starting now, in the summer, we’ll be starting to receive applications and begin the interview process throughout the fall for the four men and women that will be the inaugural class of the psychiatry training program,” he said.
Fernandez, who received his medical degree from the Tufts University School of Medicine and served his residency in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, will assist with the formation of the curriculum for the program.
Registration for the program begins in September and the interview process season begins in January. After the candidates and programs list their choices, the match will be announced on March 17, 2017.
In a phone interview June 30, UTRGV President Guy Bailey said the university is working on creating a search committee that will help with the selection of the next medical school dean.
“We’re putting together a search committee and that search committee should be formed in the next two or three weeks,” Bailey said. “Then, we’ll begin a search firm and we’ll begin a national search. We hope to have that underway before the beginning of the fall semester.”
Fernandez said that he has not been informed yet if he will take part in the committee but is willing to assist in any way possible to find a successor.
Dr. Steve Lieberman will serve as interim dean for a year as part of an interagency agreement the school has with the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Lieberman, senior dean for administration at UTMB, is a San Antonio native and has many years of experience working in the Rio Grande Valley, according to a news release.
“He is an exceptional candidate because he knows the area, he knows the students and knows the educational components that are critical for the next phase of accreditation,” Fernandez said.