Perspectives

A Word From the President

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Truth, Science, and the American Dream

by Darrell G. Kirch, MD, AAMC President and CEO
The following are abridged remarks delivered to more than 4,500 participants at Learn Serve Lead 2017:  The AAMC Annual Meeting, in Boston on Nov. 5.
 
Recently, one particular issue has been weighing heavily on my mind. That issue is the threat to truth. The kind of threat that comes from opinion masquerading as fact, especially on the web and in social media. The threat of confusing “fake news” with real news. The threat that exists when bias and fear distract and distort a debate. For us, this threat to truth represents a fundamental challenge to science—the science we depend on to reveal truth in medicine. Our patients depend on that truth. 
 
Each time I visit one of our member institutions, I witness the power of science in action. A few months ago, I spent a day at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. For most of history, diabetes meant an early death. But a century ago, medicine found the scientific basis for the disease, leading to the discovery of therapeutic insulin in the early 1920s. Dr. Elliott Joslin, a Boston physician with a deep commitment to patients with diabetes, was a pioneer in the use of insulin and in care models that finally allowed patients to manage their diabetes effectively. 
 

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Viewpoints

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Alda Center: Better Care Through Better Communication

by Laura Lindenfeld, PhD, and Breanda MacArthur, PhD

As Alan Alda emphatically states, “Communication is not something you add on to science—it is of the essence of science.”

Communication has the power to save time, create mutual understanding, and improve health outcomes for patients. We know that when health care providers focus on clear, empathetic communication, patients are more satisfied and feel better prepared to follow prevention and treatment recommendations. In turn, they experience improved health outcomes, such as faster recovery, less pain, and increased physical functioning. Miscommunication, on the other hand, is the leading cause of medical errors.

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Friday, November 03, 2017

Suicide Prevention: My Top Clinical Priority

by David J. Shulkin, MD, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

In September 2017, I testified before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on efforts at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to reduce suicide among military veterans. Our nation has an obligation to protect those who have served us, and that’s why suicide prevention is my top clinical priority.

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While the existence of health disparities in the United States is a robustly researched and documented fact, pinpointing the reasons why such gaps exist has proven more complicated. That pursuit, however, has turned health disparities and minority health research into scientific disciplines in their own right.

“In the early days [of health disparities research], there was a big focus on existence and intervention—there was an understandable push to do something about it,” says Eliseo Pérez-Stable, MD, director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “But what are the root causes? What’s the mechanism for seeing the differences?”

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Academic Medicine in the News

Thursday, January 18, 2018

New Institute Takes Multifaceted Approach to Brain Injuries

The Marcus Institute for Brain Health (MIBH), located at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, combines specialist expertise in the physical, psychological, and social aspects of brain injury with the broader resources available at major academic medical centers. The MIBH will also reach beyond traditional health care tools, using acupuncture, yoga, animal therapy, art therapy, and music therapy to support recovery. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Treating Diabetes Using "The Pharmacy Within"

Could the treatment for diabetes could be right inside the body? That’s the implication of new research by Robert C. Alaniz, PhD, director of the Texas A&M University Core for Integrated Microbiota Research. Although still in the early stages, the research indicates that a compound produced by the microbiota of the gut may be as good as metformin—the leading anti-diabetic drug—in treating diabetes.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Human Rights Education Impacts Medical Students' Views of Torture

Integrating human rights education into the medical school curriculum may strengthen medical ethics related to the issue of torture. Those are findings reported in a study from the Weill Cornell Center for Human Rights, a Weill Cornell Medicine student-run organization that provides clinical assessments for people seeking political asylum in the United States.

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