MUSC launches five-year strategic plan: OneMUSC

January 28, 2021
five people in full PPE cluster together to talk
If nothing else, the coronavirus pandemic has shown how important collaboration and innovation are to improving health and health care. Photos by Sarah Pack

COVID-19 forced organizations across the country to reshape their plans. At the Medical University of South Carolina, however, the pandemic only strengthened leaders’ resolve to move ahead with a bold strategic plan that builds upon the institution’s past five years of work under Imagine MUSC 2020.

OneMUSC, the new roadmap that will guide the vision for every individual at MUSC, was previewed on Monday and will launch upon the final review and approval of the MUSC Board of Trustees.

“The future we desire for our patients, students and ourselves demands that we boldly pursue excellence during what is clearly one of the most pivotal points in our transformational journey,” said David Cole, M.D., FACS, president of MUSC, during the live-streamed event.

During the interactive presentation, employees were asked to share one word that encompassed their early feelings about OneMUSC. Words like unity, teamwork, excited, respect, encouraged, all-us flashed across the screen faster than event emcee, Heather Woolwine, could even read them.

OneMUSC, Cole explained, seeks to break down the silos of the tripartite aspects of MUSC – research, clinical care and education – in order to develop even more collaboration and innovation in service to our purpose of preserving and optimizing human life in South Carolina and beyond. Further, the plan emphasizes the importance of inclusion so that all voices and ideas are heard and have the opportunity to reach and benefit all people.

The plan stands upon three pillars – Innovation, Impact and Influence – and the seven bold goals that are necessary to fulfill these concepts:

  • Create a culture of innovation.
  • Become the preeminent model of inclusion and equity, setting a national standard among academic health science systems. 
  • Reimagine the learning experience to optimize educational value. 
  • Forge innovative partnerships to increase scale, scope and impact. 
  • Build a high-performing integrated academic health system. 
  • Integrate research and clinical strengths to transform health care. 
  • Promote thought leadership to build a national presence and shape policies. 

    A man and woman sit at a bench in a lab working while their mentor stand back and watches 
    Chris Cowan, chairman of the Department of Neuroscience, and his trainees Adam Harrington and Catherine Bridges collaborated with the Greenwood Genetic Center on research into how a particular gene might regulate brain development.

Willette Burnham-Williams, Ph.D., chief equity officer for MUSC, noted that the word “innovation” conjures images of science and technology for most people, yet innovation is really about people. “Belonging” and “innovation” are intrinsically tied together, not separate concepts, she said. Innovation occurs when people feel supported and valued and when they are invited to the table.

For example, M.D./Ph.D. student Heather Holman was appalled to learn in class of poor CPR outcomes. She talked to a faculty member and the Human Centered Design Team and ended up as part of a group that won first prize in the inaugural SC Innovates competition for its design of a device to improve blood flow to vital organs during CPR.

“My hope is my research can make a contribution to the field and push it forward,” she said. MUSC is lucky to have lots of resources and enthusiastic faculty, she said, and she encouraged other students to bring their ideas to faculty members.

Danielle Scheurer, M.D., chief quality officer for the MUSC Health system, noted that the “impact” of collaborations can sometimes be surprising. She highlighted a novel collaboration between Mary Mauldin, Ed.D., associate director for education in the Office of Interprofessional Initiatives; Erik Modrzynski, emergency manager for MUSC Health; and faculty members and students at the School of Architecture at Clemson University. Their efforts started with one project that had a domino effect of outcomes, including the development of a portable pod for COVID-19 testing and an interprofessional class for MUSC students in emergency management.

Eugene Hong, M.D., chief physician executive, said that the third concept, “influence,” relates to leading the way for others to follow. He especially highlighted MUSC’s ongoing work in researching and closing racial disparities in health and health care.

Chanita Hughes-Halbert, Ph.D., the SmartState Center of Economic Excellence AT&T Distinguished Endowed Chair in Cancer Equity, explained that working to improve health outcomes in minority populations is her passion.

“One of the concrete and tangible ways that my roles, along with others, have been influential is by changing the nature and scope of clinical trials in this country – clinical trials related to improving therapeutic outcomes and options for cancer patients. We have to have a seat at the table. We have to continue to make progress by being an influencer across the country as well as locally.”

The year 2020 was one that few could have imagined, still, MUSC made remarkable achievements that encourage the MUSC family to look back, proud that it met every challenge head on with tenacity, dedication and resilience. The groundwork laid by Imagine MUSC 2020 during these past five years prepared the institution to step fully into this moment, said Cole in an enterprise message in November. And at such a transformational time in history, when thoughts such as new normal, quarantining and social distancing continue to capture the national consciousness, MUSC embarks on a new path – OneMUSC – our next strategy for embracing and creating the future together, building on the pillars of Innovation, Impact and Influence.

To learn more about OneMUSC, visit

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