Message from Dean Richardson: The education effect
08/25/10 Portland, Ore.
Dear School of Medicine community:
This month, we welcomed 124 new MD students and in September, we will welcome our newest group of Graduate Studies students. In August, we also awarded degrees to 34 graduating Physician Assistants who now join the ranks of health care professionals and our newest alumni. The ceremonies and inspiring traditions taking place at this time of year remind us, rightfully so, of the vital role our education mission has in supporting the health and well-being of Oregonians and people everywhere.
With questions lingering about the national economy, one particular aspect of that mission is foremost in my mind – the often unheralded but essential contribution our education mission has on the financial strength of our clinical enterprise. While it’s difficult to assign a single direct value to this contribution, the impact is very real and significant. The clinical mission benefits immensely from the association with education – as it does with our research mission too.
We talk frequently about how discoveries and cures made by our scientists become available to patients quickly within academic settings – through clinical trials, physician-researcher knowledge, the application of comparative effectiveness research and other means. The association of research with our health care delivery is an important and well-chronicled aspect of OHSU’s clinical reputation and brings new patients to our doors who seek health care that is continually redefining the leading edge.
Similarly, although less explicitly, our education mission contributes to our clinical reputation. We have the privilege of educating students and residents – the next generation of health care professionals – which means our clinicians (who are also educators), are charged with constantly raising the bar for everyone to ensure our entire enterprise is infused with the most recent findings about best practices. This is a quiet but continual lifelong approach to learning which equates to a passion for and commitment to health care models and delivery that are constantly evolving and improving.
The “halo effect” of research and education on health care delivery cannot be understated, but it is difficult to quantify. Even if we cannot directly capture or measure the full effect of this luster, we can do so indirectly. Two examples come to mind.
First, a recent statewide survey conducted on behalf of OHSU showed that not only is OHSU health care viewed extremely favorably – more so than other Oregon health care systems or hospitals – by an impressive majority of Oregonians, but that a wide majority also strongly associate (and value) OHSU education and research. A reaction to this – and bringing me to the second example – is the fact that some other hospitals or health systems operating without a substantial research or education mission, still often adopt the naming conventions associated with academic health centers, calling their clinics or other delivery settings, for instance, “institutes.” This indirect external evidence demonstrates the value of research and education to clinical reputations, even if we cannot completely monetize or otherwise quantify that value. Our missions are complementary and most impactful when bound together tightly.
I am always newly gratified this time of year when our future scientists, physicians, physician assistants and other health care professionals arrive on campus. Their enthusiasm and passion remind me of why I chose to be in academic medicine in the first place. It’s a great time of year and a great reminder that we are achieving so much together.
Mark Richardson, MD, MBA
Dean, OHSU School of Medicine
President, Faculty Practice Plan