Dr. Bryan Bognar returns to USF Health to lead medical education

Eight years ago, Bryan Bognar, MPH, MD, was deep in the middle of preparing for reaccreditation for the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. Committees, data collection, lengthy reports and in-depth self-study filled his days for nearly a year.

Today, Dr. Bognar is once again deep in the middle accreditation as the medical school prepares for its next site visit by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) early next year.  Although the familiarity makes for a faster learning curve, it won’t slow the pace or reduce the volume of work, said Dr. Bognar, who was recently named vice dean of the Office of Educational Affairs for the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine (MCOM).

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“Having gone through the accreditation process is a tremendous advantage, but a lot has changed at MCOM since the last accreditation cycle,” said Dr. Bognar, who started the job March 3. “But the beauty of the LCME visit and associated preparation is that it offers us an opportunity to take a hard look in the mirror and see how we’re doing. What we discover is that there is a long list of strengths so it’s a chance to celebrate the things we are doing well. There also will be opportunities for improvement.”

The LCME reaccredited MCOM for a full eight years in 2007. Its decision for the next accreditation comes in 2015.

USF Health has had a number of new initiatives since Dr. Bognar left the Office of Educational Affairs roughly five years ago, including the College of Pharmacy, an expanded master’s program, shared student services (The Well) and the SELECT MD program. One of USF Health’s strong differentiators, Dr. Bognar said, is the ever-growing inter-professional education efforts across USF Health.

The LCME recognizes the importance of incorporating inter-professional education (IPE) experiences in students’ curriculum, Dr. Bognar said.

“IPE is a very important aspect of what makes USF Health unique,” he said. “Our students have a genuine thirst for knowledge for what other health professionals contribute to patient care. They need to come away with an appreciation of how the pieces fit together.”

His own clinical experiences will likely play into the IPE efforts at USF Health, for both the LCME visit and for the long term.

“I spent three and a half years practicing within a very interdisciplinary environment at Moffitt Cancer Center,” he said. “I’ve seen it affect patient outcomes in a very real way, on a day-to-day basis. It’s like an orchestra, with each health professional bringing their own expertise, experience, and perspective on what the patient needs are. The patient care plan that comes from that interaction is critical; when done well it works seamlessly.”

And with health care continually changing, the need for training in teams has never been greater, he said.

“There is a complexity of modern-day patient care and it requires flexible, interdisciplinary care models. The more and earlier we can expose students to that, the better.”

That attitude helps USF MCOM students see Dr. Bognar as a great asset, for both the impending LCME visit and for continued positive interactions with students.

“Medical students are ecstatic for his return,” said Neil Manimala, president of the MCOM Student Council. “Dr. Bognar’s dedication to the student body is incredible. When we met first met with him to better acquaint him with key student concerns right after he was selected, he was already aware of most of the developments that have happened since he left USF Health. He stayed with us for two and a half hours, making sure to gather details on the direction the students want our institution to be headed.  I have the utmost confidence that under his leadership, we’ll be on that student-centered track, and subsequently we’ll come out of the LCME re-accreditation process a stronger community.”

The confidence in Dr. Bognar to champion MCOM students carries through to the administration, as well. In his letter notifying students of Dr. Bognar taking the vice dean of education position, MCOM Interim Dean Harry van Loveren noted:

“I could not be happier that Dr. Bognar agreed to take on this new role. His teaching abilities are widely recognized and admired by our leadership, our faculty, and by you, our students. In fact, when I first broke the news to a few of your student leaders yesterday, their joy was palpable – as if they had won a prize. And I believe they have. Dr. Bognar knows and appreciates our history and culture. I am confident about his abilities to lead us through the upcoming accreditation process for the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. Dr. Bognar, who received an MPH from our own College of Public Health, also has a deep understanding of our cooperative and inter-professional culture across USF Health. Dr. Bognar has said that he’s ‘absolutely thrilled’ to be returning to Educational Affairs. He asked us to let you know that he will put his heart and soul into working with you again and making your educational experience the best that it can be.”

So what’s after LCME accreditation? Dr. Bognar is taking it one step at a time.

“We’re not starting anything new just yet,” he said, smiling. “We’re focusing on the things in front of us. We want ensure that the changes that have already been made have an opportunity to develop deep roots and are sustainable. So they bear fruit for years to come.”

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Dr. Bognar earned his MD from the Indiana University of School of Medicine, a BSc from the University of Notre Dame, and an MPH from the USF College of Public Health. He is a former chief resident at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital and completed a two-year fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has received several teaching awards from USF and received the American College of Physicians – American Society of Internal Medicine Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award in 2002.

In 2009, Dr. Bognar was associate dean for undergraduate medical education and interim vice dean for the MCOM Office of Educational Affairs before transitioning to Moffitt Cancer Center, where he was Chair of Internal Medicine and maintained a faculty appointment with MCOM to continue teaching students and residents.

Reflecting on his path back to the Office of Educational Affairs, Dr. Bognar noted that his road was always on course for teaching.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to come back,” he said. “It is not only an honor to be able to take care of patients, but also to help educate others on how to take care of patients.”

Story by Sarah Worth, photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Office of Communications.