Health Science Center unites to produce the innovative providers of the future

By Betsy Friauf

Dr. Williams
 
Extraordinary teamwork will lead the faculty, students and staff of UNT Health Science Center to fulfill their vision of working as one university in training the health professionals of the future, President Michael Williams said Tuesday.

During a town hall-type meeting with employees, Dr. Williams emphasized his commitment to lead UNTHSC to redefine and reshape health care education to create “new kinds of providers” – providers of scientific discoveries, teaching and health care.

The health care of the future will involve teamwork. These interprofessional teams will draw from all disciplines, including those that UNTHSC comprises: osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistancy, public health and, beginning in a few years, allopathic medicine in collaboration with Texas Christian University.

Williams cited a few recent examples of UNTHSC’s extraordinary teamwork:

  • Students worked together to help a brain cancer patient fulfill her dream of finishing the Cowtown Half-Marathon.
  • Addressing our county’s high rate of childhood asthma, teams from the School of Public Health and Professional and Continuing Education work with Fort Worth schools, JPS Health and Cook Children’s to help school nurses alleviate students’ asthma attacks, thereby improving the children’s health, averting 911 calls, reducing absenteeism and saving money for schools and families.
  • Researchers in the Center for Neuroscience Discovery, pharmacology and School of Public Health, including graduate students, work with the city of Fort Worth to reduce the threat of insect-borne diseases such as Zika, West Nile and Lyme.

The new TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine is planning to welcome its first class in 2019; Dr. Williams cited two of its planned innovations:

  • Students will learn to listen and communicate effectively with patients and their families under the direction of Evonne Kaplan-Liss, founding medical director of the acclaimed Alan Alda Center for Communication Science.
  • Students will interact with patients during their first semester and follow those same patients through their four years of medical education. This doesn’t exist anywhere else in the U.S., outside of small pilot programs.

The new MD school will occupy two floors of the Interdisciplinary Research and Education Building under construction on the UNTHSC campus at Camp Bowie Boulevard and Clifton Street.

Dr. Williams said he is looking forward to UNTHSC Commencement on May 20 when he will shake the hand of each graduate.

He said is proud of the 214 fourth-year students in the  Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine who recently secured residencies. “Fifty-two percent of them will be in Texas,” Williams said, adding that generally 85 percent of those who serve residencies in Texas continue to practice here.

Dr. Williams also emphasized that, continuing the TCOM tradition of helping alleviate the national shortage of physicians, 60 percent of TCOM students secured residencies in primary care.

A key component of UNTHSC, the College of Pharmacy, anticipates its final accreditation this summer. It will soon welcome its new dean, Charles Taylor, PharmD, currently Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Northeast Ohio Medical University.

As a strong supporter of interprofessional education, research and practice, Dr. Taylor will help students become the “pharmacists of the future,” working closely with other providers.

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