Op-ed: First up for Partners' new CEO? Repair relationship with Harvard

In a Feb. 21 letter to The Boston Globe, Mitchell Rabkin, MD, the former chief executive of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said the new CEO of Partners HealthCare should repair the institution's relationship with Harvard Medical School.

While Partners' next full-time CEO will have many responsibilities, Dr. Rabkin argues that chief among them should be the Boston-based health system's relationship with Harvard Medical School, also in Boston. Many of the system's flagship hospitals, including Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital, serve as affiliated teaching hospitals with the medical school.

Dr. Rabkin argues that while individual researchers at Harvard try to collaborate, the institution's affiliated hospitals often do not work together on research or training. For example, MGH and Brigham previously allowed medical residents to rotate across all Harvard-affiliated hospitals. Since the two hospitals became part of the larger Partners system, however, residents can now only rotate between Partners-affiliated institutions, "limit[ing] the breadth of experience for their trainees and those of the other hospitals," he writes.

"It is time for Partners to realize that its hospitals are affiliates of Harvard Medical School and not the reverse. Partners' next chief must recognize that its luster will grow best through greater institutional colleagueship rather than insularity," Dr. Rabkin writes.

Earlier this week, Partners announced Anne Klibanski, MD, will take over as interim president and CEO of the institution. Current chief executive David Torchiana, MD, revealed plans last month to step down in April.

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