Dr. Daniel B. Ornt joined RIT as the first vice president of the Institute of Health Sciences and Technology last December. He came from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, where he was the vice dean for Education and Academic Affairs. He has a combined 30 years of experience in medical education programs at Case Western and at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. The Penfield, N.Y., native got his M.D. from the University of Rochester Medical Center in 1976 and specializes in internal medicine and nephrology. Ornt heads the institute’s three components: RIT’s ninth college, the College of Health Sciences and Technology; the Health Sciences Research Center and the Health Sciences Outreach Center. The institute is a partnership with Rochester General Health System. The college has about 600 students.
I got the medicine bug when I was 5 years old. There was this visible man model back in the ’50s that you could paint the arteries and the veins and all the organs fit in. My parents gave this to me when I was 6. I also had a wonderful relationship with my pediatrician, who was a longtime pediatrician in Rochester.
In medical school, I just really liked the way internal medicine doctors thought. They seemed to be the smartest people. I really loved the kidney and the kidney physiology and the dynamics of dialysis and taking care of patients with end-stage kidney disease. That got me into nephrology (kidney diseases).
I had a lot of connections to RIT. I had an older brother (the late Ken Ornt ’73), a mechanical engineer here during the campus transition. He started downtown and moved to Brick City and he was a commuter. I used to come out here occasionally.
This has been a wonderful choice for me. There is one personal challenge as my wife is a general counsel at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System (in Hanover, N.H.,) so we have this commuting challenge.
Our goals are to grow existing programs and create new directions. The physician assistant program accepted its first class in an exciting new B.S./M.S. program last fall. So students starting the program in 2011 will walk away with a master’s degree. We are looking to develop some exciting new areas beyond that of specialty training for physician assistants to work in interventional radiology or surgery or critical care medicine, giving them just a little bit of extra training.
We have a terrific diagnostic medical ultrasound program. We have done the groundwork into expanding that into echocardiography. We have a great clinical nutrition program and we are thinking about ways of expanding that beyond a B.S. degree.
We have a master’s degree in health systems administration that has been very strong. We hope to move the medical illustration program for full accreditation because it would be one of a handful of programs accredited in North America. Our largest program is biomedical sciences and we hope to expand the electives available to students and to potentially look for relationships with professional schools and other opportunities for students to engage in the health-care workforce.
We have a key relationship with Rochester General Health System. We have a lot of opportunities that are being discussed for growth of the research experience as well as clinical programs.
We hope that alumni view (the new college) as a real positive. Alumni, particularly of the College of Science who have had training in health-related fields, can feel like there’s even more of a home here at RIT in their area of interest. If they are looking at referring future students, they can do that with even more comfort because of the emphasis on health that a College of Health Sciences brings.
I hope the College of Health Sciences does its part and more in creating programs that students find professionally rewarding. If you Google “health sciences” in five years, I would like RIT to be on the first page.