News » SMHS, GW MFA Get to Know Dean Barbara L. Bass, MD

SMHS, GW MFA Get to Know Dean Barbara L. Bass, MD

More than 30 years after completing her residency at the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), Barbara L. Bass, MD, RESD ’86, returned to her Foggy Bottom roots filled with optimism for the future of the school and its partners. 

On Jan. 15, Bass began serving in the newly expanded role of vice president for health affairs at GW, dean of SMHS, and CEO of the GW Medical Faculty Associates (GW MFA).

She began her tenure as the featured guest speaker at the Department of Surgery Grand Rounds, delivering the Shorb Lecture established in honor of GW Professor Emeritus Paul Shorb, MD. Shorb is an exceptional surgeon, innovator, and educator who over the course of his career at GW has been a valued mentor to many surgical residents, including Bass. 

The lecture, “A Sense of Place and Purpose in a Career in Academic Medicine: One Person, One Community, One World,” highlighted that the places we work, learn, grow, and share as a community are tangible artifacts that contribute to our shared sense of purpose.   

During the lecture, Bass described experiences that guided her to become the surgeon and leader she is today. She recalled memories of her time as a resident, noting that “those formative memories included moments of joy and camaraderie, of sadness leading to professional growth, and of experiences that made clear that I was being guided into a noble profession and community of caregivers.”

GW, she added, was a place that gave her direction in her career, and a place that, to this day, molds many young future health care workers, researchers, and educators. 

In addition to delivering the Shorb Lecture and meeting with various leadership groups within her first days, Bass also hosted a “Conversation with the Dean” town hall meeting with faculty, students, and staff of both SMHS and the GW MFA. The event provided a forum for her to introduce herself to the SMHS and the GW MFA communities and field questions from an excited and interested audience.  

Bass spoke about the future of the GW medical enterprise, including enhancing interdisciplinary collaboration throughout GW, making education at SMHS more affordable, and increasing diversity across the medical enterprise.

She also spoke about her new roles as the dean of SMHS and CEO of the GW MFA, and the importance of a closer relationship between the two institutions. “We have a great opportunity to come together to create a more unified structure. We are one faculty and together we share the common goal of working to improve the lives of the patients we serve,” she said.

Bass will be meeting with various departments and groups over the next several months and is looking forward to hearing from the SMHS and the GW MFA communities. She ended the town hall saying that after 40 years of working as a surgeon, it was a sad day when she performed her final surgery, having come so far since her first one as an intern at GW.  “It was a wonderful 40 years,” she noted, “but now I’m going to make time for other things.”