Issue 83 - Feb. 28, 2017
Making the Rounds with Founding Dean Dr. Barbara Atkinson
Friends and colleagues,
 
Last Saturday, I spoke at the American College of Legal Medicine ( ACLM57th Annual Meeting in Las Vegas. I presented during a breakfast session entitled Health Law in the 21st Century: Challenges in a Changing Environment. 
 
L to R: Drs. Dorothy Rasinski-Gregory, Barbara Atkinson and Monique Anawis
I was impressed by the diversity of ACLM members and their roles within their respective organizations. Most members have a JD degree along with a MD or RN degree. Many have a strong interest in bioethics, which is the application of ethics to issues that arise in medicine and health care. Here are a few of the impressive people who attended the breakfast meeting:
  • Dorothy Rasinski-Gregory, MD, a retired family medicine physician and lawyer, who has been an ACLM member for 48 years and is revered by many. Dr. Rasinski-Gregory taught bioethics for decades. At the breakfast meeting, I was told Dr. Gregory first became a lawyer then went on to medical school when she found it difficult to get a job as a lawyer. She is an amazing role model for women. 
  • Weldon (Don) Havins, MD, JD, a Las Vegas ophthalmologist and Professor and Director of Medical Jurisprudence at the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, and current president of the Nevada State Medical Association. He was the chair of the two-person poster session at the conference. I was impressed by how much Dr. Havins does for this community and the state.
  • Monique Anawis, MD, organized the breakfast session. She is a Chicago ophthalmologist and part-time medical director for the Attorney General of the State of Illinois. She says many of the issues she deals with in her legal role are related to opioid use and addiction.
My presentation touched on my career; the launch of the UNLV School of Medicine's medical education, clinical and research programs; my experience and work on President Barack Obama's Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, and leadership. Whenever I discuss my leadership style, I reflect on the tips I have learned during my career, and which of those are the most important to share with future leaders. Here are the ones I shared on Saturday:
  • Communicate clearly and often.
  • Focus on the future and develop a vision for what you want to accomplish over time -- when future goals are clear, it's possible to chart a path to get there.
  • Communicate your vision in a way everyone can visualize and adopt.
  • Learn every aspect of your job at each stage of your career, such as workflow analysis, HR, finances, etc. The goal is to know your job from the inside out. 
  • Hire the best people possible for the job, and then let them do their job while providing assistance, consultation, and oversight as needed.
  • Always be honest. I find it works best for me to be totally direct, even though it may lead to some difficult discussions; people are clear on where you stand.
  • Be optimistic, laugh and have fun.
The second tip was the basis for planning the medical school's curriculum. After spending six months visiting with community stakeholders, I designed the basics of the curriculum around what I thought physicians would need to know for the next 50 years to be successful. The five things I thought were the most important for medical students to learn were these:
  • Learn how to access the most current information from appropriate resources.
  • Work in teams.
  • Think deeply and critically about problems and issues.
  • Be comfortable with new and emerging technology.
  • Communicate well with patients, fellow students, professional colleagues and the community.
At the UNLV School of Medicine, we are dealing with each of these in various ways. For example:
  • Our problem-based learning (PBL) curriculum teaches life-long learning skills to our students, such as how to find the right information in the literature, to reflect on issues, and to work in teams.
  • We will be using the most advanced technology, the Sectra virtual anatomy tables, to teach anatomy and pathology and to supplement the problem-based learning cases. 
  • We will take a variety of approaches to teach communication skills. We will select students with strong communication and interpersonal skills and further strengthen their presentation skills through our PBL and doctoring courses. The students' interpersonal communication skills will be honed with actor-patients in the simulation center and with real patients under faculty supervision.  
  • We also recognize that medicine in the future is moving toward more outpatient care and newer kinds of outpatient care, so we will be prepared to teach that, too, through our longitudinal integrated clerkship.   
Our curriculum pulls together some of the most-forward thinking, proven approaches being used elsewhere into one integrated curriculum. It also represents the vision of our many faculty members. We believe it will soon be seen as one of the best approaches to preparing medical students for their future roles as physicians. 

Best wishes,
 
Barbara
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