Don N. Peska, DO, MEd, FACOS, has been named the Dean & Chief Academic Officer for the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine at New Mexico State University. Dr. Peska is a highly respected educator and academic leader within the osteopathic medical school profession. Most recently (2009–2017), he served as the Dean of the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, Ft. Worth Texas (TCOM). He started his academic career at TCOM in 1982 as an Assistant Clinical Professor and was promoted to the positions of Associate Professor, Assistant Dean for Clinical Education, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Associate Dean for Educational Programs. He also served as the Chief Medical Officer for UNT Health. Dr. Peska also served as a Residency Director for Vascular Surgery. Dr. Peska’s honors include: Distinguished Osteopathic Surgeon from American College of Osteopathic Surgeons (ACOS), President’s Service Award from ACOS and the Mead-Johnson Fellow in General Surgery. Prior to academia, Dr. Peska had a successful private practice in cardiothoracic and vascular surgery.

Dean Peska’s goals for BCOM include achieving national accreditation for the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Degree program. He said, “For many, especially our students, that will suffice. I commented to colleagues some years back that I did not have interest in being part of a start-up as practicality often interferes with the creativity that is possible when a program is well anchored. At Burrell we will find that once accreditation is acquired, we will be able to raise our anchor and sail to any other port that welcomes our ideas, innovations, and values while those on older ships find themselves rusting in the harbor.”

Dr. Peska received his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Des Moines University, College of Osteopathic Medicine. He obtained his Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Cincinnati (Ohio). He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Biology from Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY. He completed residencies in general surgery and thoracic cadiovascular surgery. He is board certified in general surgery, general vascular surgery and thoracic-cardiovascular surgery from the American Osteopathic Board of Surgery. Dr. Peska is a Diplomate of the National Board of Medical Examiners. He has also served as a member of the Research Advisory Committee of the National Resident Match Program (NMRP) in Washington, DC and accreditation surveyor for the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA).

An accomplished researcher and lecturer, Dr. Peska is a visiting faculty member at the Harvard-Macy Institute at Harvard University. The Harvard-Macy institute is an inter-professional, international incubator for innovators in health care education. The institute takes a collegial “think tank” approach to continuing professional development, bringing together diverse perspectives in health care education. It inspires participants to examine their own assumptions and behaviors in a new light, leading to fresh approaches to their careers and their capacity as leaders of organizational change.

Under Dr. Peska’s leadership at TCOM, he and his team successfully increased the overall class size and established the TCOM Academy of Medical Educators. The Academy provides protected time for faculty to attend to their teaching assignments and brings them together each week for their own development. They participate in a longitudinal curriculum that provides in-depth discussion in the learning sciences and coursework that includes theory, instructional design, assessment, skills training, technology, and other facets of curriculum delivery. Time is dedicated for reflective dialogue on outcomes of recent courses and sharing of best practices. The Academy members were responsible for modernizing and integrating the curriculum. The overall success of the academy and other leadership strategies contributed to achieving excellent outcomes for TCOM’s students and an increase in overall faculty and institutional pride. Since inception TCOM students have exceeded the national means for first attempt passage and total scores on all levels of COMLEX-USA, the licensing board exam required of all graduates of osteopathic medical schools. Additionally, the majority of TCOM students sit for USMLE Step 1 where they also performed at or above the national average of all allopathic medical schools.

Dr. Peska’s Perspective on Medical Education: “Although comfortable with and experienced in clinical practice management and oversight of a modest research enterprise, my core interests are in curriculum and instruction and team development. The application of evidence-based principles of learning to medical education has enhanced institutional effectiveness at TCOM. With several complimentary degree programs on the health science center campus and in the community TCOM has successfully partnered internally and externally to promote inter-professional practice. Our team has been invited to present its strategies and outcomes in the United States and overseas.” – Don N. Peska, DO, MEd, FACOS

Read a message from Dean Peska at: bcomnm.org/message-from-the-dean