A Word From the President

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Core Competencies and the Heart of Learning

by Darrell G. Kirch, MD, AAMC President and CEO
As a medical school dean, I always enjoyed the month of September. First-year medical students gather on campus, full of excitement and ready to begin their medical careers. Medical students further along in their training are returning from summers spent conducting research, working in a clinical environment, or studying for the USMLE Step 1 exam. They will be sharing their real-world experiences and connecting what they learned over the summer with their work in the classroom and the clinic in the coming year.
Today, the realities of medical practice and the rapid advancement of science require medical education to focus much more on developing practical skills and competencies. When I was a medical student, I was responsible for memorizing—not to mention retaining—as many facts as possible about the basic sciences, disease, and best practices in care. Most of my examination questions were based on that retention of facts. But with the explosion of scientific knowledge, medical students can no longer learn everything they will need to know in four years for a lifetime of practice.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Training Future Physicians to Address Opioid Crisis

by  Robert J. Sokol, MD, President, and Kevin Kunz, MD, Executive Vice President of the Addiction Medicine Foundation

The country is struggling to reverse the devastating opioid epidemic, which has its roots in many places and requires a collective response across multiple sectors. For their part, medical schools and teaching hospitals are actively working to address the crisis in their communities. But to be maximally effective, we must ensure these efforts go beyond academic medicine’s traditional commitment to increasing knowledge and finding best practices we can “import” to our own environments. We must ensure we are translating that knowledge into real change in the community.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Humanism Increasingly Important in a Changing Health Care Landscape

by Richard I. Levin, MD, President and CEO of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation

As the academic medicine community faces new demands, maintaining a human connection with our patients is more crucial than ever.

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The use of electronic health records (EHRs) has skyrocketed—in less than a decade, the number of hospitals adopting the technology surged from fewer than 10% in 2008 to nearly 84%, in 2015 according to federal data. But adoption is only the first step health care providers must take to harness the full power of EHRs to improve people’s health.

“We’re in the infancy of using EHRs to improve patient care,” said Keith Horvath, MD, senior director for clinical transformation at the AAMC. “Obviously, adoption was the first step that needed to happen, and it basically took analog paper charts into digital form. Another main goal was to improve billing and collection—it’s been a good tool from that perspective, too. But it hasn’t yet been optimized for improving quality of care.”

Although more hospitals are using EHRs, a 2016 study reported mixed results in efforts to leverage EHRs to improve patient outcomes. To help spur such innovation, the AAMC teamed up with the Patrick and Catherine Weldon Donaghue Medical Research Foundation to identify researchers on the cutting edge of such work. In 2013, the foundation awarded grants to two promising EHR projects: one directed at boosting provider capacity and another targeting improved clinical care.

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Academic Medicine in the News

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Study of Genetic Causes of Mental Illness

Javier I. Escobar, MD, associate dean for global health and professor of psychiatry and family medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, is examining the relationship between genetics and behavioral disorders. Escobar's research focuses on the Paisa population, native to northwest Colombia where he grew up. The Paisa community is considered a "genetic isolate" and has higher than average suicide rates.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

SimCentral Cuts Ribbon on New Amarillo Building

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Amarillo, Texas, has opened a new SimCentral building, which will assist in training students from medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and other health professions, with the goal of improving patient safety, promoting precise teamwork, and saving lives. The facility will include space for teaching clinical simulations, classrooms, and space for staff and equipment.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Headed in the Wrong Direction, for the Right Reasons

Pat Conroy, director for safety and environment of care at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, headed to Florida as part of a support effort to assist during and immediately after Hurricane Irma, along with a Colorado emergency preparedness team.