Setting a Good Example

The 2010 meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges concludes this week in Washington, DC. The association’s president, Darrell Kirch, MD, called on the members present to prepare themselves for the future of academic medicine.

One of the reforms he called for stood out because it called for changes in how faculty members behave not how institutions operate. When it comes to designing a sustainable system of health care, the example should begin with physicians and medical school faculty. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, as Kirch notes:

  • Data indicate that, despite our knowledge and experience, our faculty and staff members are not always wise consumers of heath care. We often do not receive basic preventive services or good continuity of care, and too often we overuse tests and procedures despite the best medical evidence.

The same innovative health care delivery systems that we deploy in our communities can be aimed at our own faculty and staff. Academic medical centers are employers, too, and shoulder costs related to workers’ health. By modeling good health practices, we can not only set an example for patients but also assert leadership in the uncertain future of health care.


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