How Healthy is the Culture of Academic Medicine?

Please join us Wednesday for our Significant Conversation series on How Healthy is the Culture of Academic Medicine?

We have a wonderful line up of individuals who have given this topic much thought and provide us perspectives from young trainees to senior faculty.

I thank Mark Aulisio who will moderate and Cynthia Kubu who conceived of the topic.

I am excited to hear what our panelists bring to this Significant Conversation and how they view the challenges to establishing and maintaining a healthy environment for academic medicine. I provide a preview here:

First, a question, “What is Academic Medicine?”

Academia is a space of inquiry, learning, discovery, application and scholarly discourse, where academic freedom to express diverse views is valued and practiced.

“Academic Medicine” links these concepts to the pathobiology, description, treatment, prevention and cure of disease in humans through research, teaching and service.

None of this happens in a vacuum, without a prepared mind and without collegial interdependency and consensus. We would not publish an observation without peer review, we would not practice medicine without guidance, mentoring and team assessment.

And in the practice of medicine, we teach the Hippocratic Oath and call on physicians to care for and heal patients, whomever they may be.

The health of Academic Medicine depends on a firm commitment to live out these basic principles in all of our endeavors, individually and communally. 

We need to reflect on how we sometimes fall short of our ideas, what we can do better, and how we can commit to creating a healthier culture in Academic Medicine so that we truly care for and heal each other and promote care and healing in the broader community. Long term discourse into the individual and collective issues we witness seem to sideline the health of our discipline and its place in our society.

I know that this is highly aspirational and covers a great deal of ground, but I want to conclude by raising some questions that have been troubling me of late.

First, how do recent legal protections which seem to exempt those with personal moral, religious or even political objections (e.g., prescribing the “abortion pill” or birth control) cohere with the requirements of Hippocratic Oath? or the protection?

Second, as we broaden out our society of medical scholars to include in Academic Medicine persons from every corner of the globe, from every religion, culture, and experience, does this also mean that we need to embrace new types of scholarship, learning modalities or even epistemologies? Can we listen to different viewpoints and learn from them without losing our own professional or even person identities? Can we mix our desire to heal and discover with a tolerance to embrace new perspectives of others?

I don’t know the answers to these and many other questions that we are faced with in the culture of Academic Medicine today, but I do know that they are significant and must be addressed. Please join in the conversation.

See you on Wednesday!

Stan Gerson, MD
Dean and Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs
School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University