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Collaboration is key to future of health care workforce, panel says

September 22, 2022

Collaboration is key to shaping the future healthcare workforce, health leaders said during a recent panel discussion.

That was the overwhelming consensus among experts and attendees of the “The Future Health Workforce: Insights and Solutions” discussion. Organized by the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University, the event took place in the ASU California Centerlocated in the historic Herald Examiner building in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.

College of Health Solutions Dean Deborah Helitzer (left) introduces Dr. Donna Elliott and Dr. Michael Kanter during the panel discussion “The Future Health Workforce: Insights and Solutions” at the ASU California Center in Los Angeles on Sept. 16. Photo by Carl Jimenez/ASU
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Moderated by College of Health Solutions Dean and Professor Deborah Helitzerpanelists dr. Donna Elliottvice dean and professor of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, and dr. Michael Kanterprofessor and chairman of the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine, answered the question of how colleges and universities can prepare students for the challenges of our healthcare system.

BOther well-known physicians and educators said future physicians and other health care providers should learn how to work with others to achieve better health outcomes.

High test scores are not enough

Elliott said high MCAT scores and grade points won’t be the most valuable asset for people applying to medical schools.

“While medical schools screen 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 their ability to function as a team,” Elliott said.

Kanter said modern medicine allows healthcare providers 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 on its own is useless, and I’d say the information on its own is almost as useless,” Kanter said. “It’s really the implementation of that information that needs to happen. Students must learn how to turn data into information and information into change. It is about leadership, thinking, working in teams and parenting. I think those are general skills that set that learning cycle in motion.”

Future doctors need a broad curriculum

Following the discussion, health leaders answered questions from the public about what they have learned, what challenges them and how we need to rethink health education and the workforce to reduce inequalities and prepare for a brighter future through collaboration, transformation and innovation. Helitzer then closed the discussion by asking what schools like ASU’s College of Health Solutions could do to better prepare students for medical school.

Elliott said of the traditional pre-med training that was there 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 today’s medical students need a broader curriculum.

“It’s the breadth of education now,” Elliott said. “We need students who are thinkers, not memorizers. Students who can think and invent and apply what they learn. The more opportunities they have to do that before we get them, but also after we get them, is the most important.”

The full 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 ASU expansion in California during the ASU California Center in downtown Los Angeles. The events are open to the public and are intended to exchange ideas and explore collaborations on issues facing our communities.

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