Dr. Steven A. Wartman,
Resident and CEO,
Association of Academic Health Centers,
Washington DC, USA
In the education realm, recognition of the need for substantive curricular change is growing. For example, the new 'Genes to Society' curriculum at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine includes a special 'societal component' that emphasizes how individual patient phenotypes may affect the family or community. Similarly, the increasing emphasis on inter-professional health education speaks to the development of a new paradigm for care delivery where well-trained, flexible healthcare teams deliver patient-focused programs of care. AHCs must take the lead in recalibrating their educational programs to target evolving societal and patient needs. Similarly with regard to research there is an absolute requirement for a multidisciplinary team approach if we are to leverage the benefits of recent advances in basic and clinical science.
No longer can the patient and the public be considered as a disinterested bystander but rather as an engaged and enthusiastic participant and partner. Public participation in research must be encouraged and should be viewed as a philanthropic act that will have lasting benefits for our children and the generations to come. The ultimate quest is to improve health outcomes both for the individual and for the population. This can only be achieved by developing an adaptable, flexible and skilled healthcare workforce that is equipped for the challenges of the 21st century and able to seek innovative solutions to our many pressing healthcare problems. A number of institutions across the globe have widened the AHC concept to embrace their communities through establishing academic health systems but this is the first attempt to pull together all of a nation’s academic and healthcare providers without exception, into a single partnership working to a shared vision and strategic plan. In this respect Qatar is leading the way and today’s launch of the Academic Health System Initiative under the patronage of Her Highness Sheika Mosa bint Nasser should be celebrated as a landmark moment in the history of the nation. However, this is just the beginning and much remains to be done to ensure that the Qatari population and the global community reap the benefits of this important initiative. Whether you are a patient, healthcare worker, academic, politician, community leader or member of the public we encourage you to engage with this initiative, which has the potential to transform the healthcare service in Qatar and will ultimately touch the lives of you all.