Collaboration is key to future of health care workforce, panel says
Collaboration is the key to shaping the future health care workforce, said health leaders at a recent panel discussion.
That was the overwhelming consensus among experts and attendees alike at “The Future Health Workforce: Insights and Solutions” discussion. The event, hosted by Arizona State University's College of Health Solutions, took place at the ASU California Center, located in the historic Herald Examiner building in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.
Moderated by College of Health Solutions Dean and Professor Deborah Helitzer, panelists Dr. Donna Elliott, vice dean and professor of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, and Dr. Michael Kanter, professor and chair of the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine, responded to the question of how colleges and universities can prepare students to meet the challenges presented by our health care system.
Both noted physicians and educators said future doctors and other health care providers must learn how to work with others in order to deliver better health outcomes.
High test scores won’t be enough
Elliott said high MCAT scores and grade point averages won’t be the most valuable assets for people applying to medical schools.
“As medical schools go about screening the large number of applicants for those who can succeed in their institutions and medicine in general, they are looking for students who have evidence of ability to function as a team,” Elliott said.
Kanter said that modern medicine offers health care providers the opportunity to consume large amounts of data about conditions and patients. But he said finding solutions to those concerns requires more than just being able to sift through raw data.
“Data by itself is useless, and I would argue that the information, by itself, is almost as useless,” Kanter said. “It’s really the implementation of that information that needs to happen. Students need to learn how to convert data to information and information into change. It involves leadership, thinking, how to work in teams and how to educate. I think those are general skills that will move that learning cycle along.”
Future doctors need a broad-based curriculum
Following the discussion, the health leaders took questions from the audience about what they have learned, what they are challenged by and how we must reenvision health education and the workforce to reduce disparities and prepare for a better future through collaboration, transformation and innovation. Helitzer then closed the discussion by asking what schools such as the College of Health Solutions at ASU could do to better prepare students for medical school.
Elliott said that of the traditional pre-med training that was in place when she went to medical school — subjects such as biology, chemistry, physics, calculus and English — it is the language skills that were most useful.
She said that today’s medical students need a broader-based curriculum.
“It’s the breadth of education now,” Elliott said. “We need students who are thinkers, not memorizers. Students who can think and imagine and apply what they learn.The more opportunities they have to do that before we get them, as well as after we get them, is what’s most important.”
The complete recording of the live discussion is available on the College of Health Solutions' Youtube channel.
This panel on "The Future Health Workforce" was part of a series of events to mark the ASU expansion in California at the ASU California Center in downtown Los Angeles. The events are open to the public and designed to share ideas and explore collaborations on issues facing our communities.