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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Job 1 for designated UPR Medical Sciences Campus provost: Finish restoring neurosurgery residency pr

Ilka Ríos Reyes


Ilka Ríos Reyes, University of Puerto Rico (UPR) President Luis Ferrao Delgado’s nominee for Medical Sciences Campus provost, has numerous plans to make the campus an efficient one, but her priority is to restore the neurosurgery residency program, which she hopes to get up and running by July 2024.

Ríos Reyes was appointed provost in December 2021 but Ferrao Delgado asked for her resignation in August 2022 amid allegations that she intervened inappropriately in the evaluation of a student.

Ferrao Delgado appointed a committee to investigate the matter and the panel found no wrongdoing. The student, as a matter of fact, had signed a letter allowing Ríos Reyes to intervene in the process. A dean at the school made the same decision about the student that Ríos Reyes had made, allowing the student to drop certain courses.

Ferrao Delgado interviewed her again for the position on July 7.

“It was a good interview and what he said was that any misunderstanding between us was in the past,” Ríos Reyes said in an interview with the STAR.

The UPR governing board is slated to meet in August to decide whether to confirm Ríos Reyes, who has a 43-year career in academia, research and health services at UPR, with leadership experience at University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry and Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (in partnership with UPR), and the University of Granada in Spain.

One of Ríos Reyes’ priorities will be to put an end to interim positions at the campus, allowing deans to have a permanent staff because, she said, interim positions create instability and adversely impact the campus’ Middle State accreditation.

Before leaving her position as provost last year, Ríos Reyes began the process of reinstating the neurosurgery program, a task she hopes to complete as soon as possible. She said she will deliver documentation to the ACGME, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, in January in order to restore the residency program in July 2024. She also has forged strong relationships with ASES, the Medical Services Administration, for the residency programs.

Ríos Reyes also plans to create a committee comprising all of the campus schools to find ways to persuade medical students to stay in Puerto Rico after graduation. She said two students who participated in a program that she helped create that allows students to complete medical residencies at the MD Anderson Cancer Center opted to work in Puerto Rico at the Comprehensive Cancer Center. They are Paloma Monroig, a pathologist and Rocio Rivera, a pediatric oncologist.

“We want to transform the outlook for doctors,” Ríos Reyes said. Regarding changes to curricula, she said all of the programs have their accreditation. Graduate degrees are evaluated internally. “The only program that we plan to pause is the technical radiology [program] in the School of Health Professionals because we are going to turn it into a bachelor’s degree from an associate degree, so we are not going to accept new students while we do so,” she said.

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