Think academic medicine is stodgy, hidebound or slow to innovate? Think again.
Faculty, scientists and administrators of the nation’s teaching hospitals are actually quite progressive and optimistic about the future of medicine.
How do we know? Just for fun, we polled 176 attendees of the annual conference of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in Baltimore, and asked them to share their hopes and fears. Here’s what we found:
- A whopping 88 percent said they’re “hopeful” or “empowered” by the changes in health care.
- “Empowered patients” was most frequently identified as having the most potential to transform health care, followed by “payment reform” and “evolution of quality metrics.”
- 77 percent approve of the Affordable Care Act, and 58 percent would favor moving to a single payer system.
- 91 percent would recommend their job to a young person, despite having to shoulder added stress and responsibilities, such as growing patient loads
- That’s good news since 76 percent believe there is, or will be, a doctor shortage.
It’s not a scientific poll. But the findings are worth noting considering the dire predictions that some industry analysts have promulgated for America’s 400 teaching hospitals, which, in addition to being the source of new treatments and cures, care for the sickest patients and a disproportionate share of the uninsured.
Of course, not everyone is bullish on the direction health care is taking. For the 3 percent who reported being “fearful” or “angry,” here’s what’s keeping them up at night: “losing the human side of medicine,” added “stress and responsibilities” and “changes compromising patient care.”
But most have bought off on the idea that health care can and must improve. If anything, it’s not happening fast enough. “Not enough time and resources” outranked “culture of complacency” among the chief barriers to change.
“I’m most fearful about other peoples’ fears,” said AAMC attendee, anesthesiologist Karen Morris-Priester who gained national recognition in 2007 as the first grandmother to graduate from Yale School of Medicine. “There are so many people afraid of health care reform and the outlook of medicine that people aren’t going into medicine.”
Terri Cameron, director of curriculum for the AAMC, said, “If we could get past the silos and the turf, and not stand in each other’s way and find ways to collaborate, I think we could move forward much faster than we are.”
Morris-Priester and Cameron were among those sporting enough to explain their survey responses on camera. You can hear more of what they and others have to say on our YouTube channel. Didn’t get a chance to take our poll? It’s not too late. Join the conversation and find out what kind of change agent are you: Blazing Believer, Optimistic Observer, Seasoned Skeptic or Conscientious Objector?
Kirsten Stewart is a senior writer for University of Utah Health Sciences