President Now and Next


When you’re in the business of educating providers of the future and the next generation of scientists, it can be hard – perhaps even impossible – to keep up.

In 1950, medical knowledge doubled approximately every 50 years. By 1980 – about the time I was graduating from TCOM – it was every seven years. By 2010, it was every 3.5 years, according to a 2011 study in Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association.

And by next year, medical knowledge is projected to double every 73 days. No one individual can truly keep pace.

Health care is changing in ways that are hard to anticipate, although there are clear trends: mass personalization and new delivery models, to name two.

Disruptive technologies already are transforming health care. Providers of the future will have to be familiar with artificial intelligence, which already is prevalent in supporting clinical decisions, disease management and population health. Many physicians and other practitioners are working in virtual health care models, providing care remotely through telemedicine. Nanomedicine, virtual reality and 3D printing have created new paths for treatments and training.

Given the accumulation of knowledge, it’s past time for new thinking about health care education, where models have remained largely static for decades.

We simply can’t teach medical students and other providers everything they need to know. But we can equip them with the 21st century tools they’ll need to succeed: exceptional communication skills, critical thinking, high levels of emotional intelligence and the ability to work in teams that keep patients at the center of everything they do.

On Thursday at my quarterly President’s Forum, I’m going to share some thoughts on innovation and entrepreneurship, and how those elements also need to be part of our institutional makeup. They’re not part of a traditional health science center skillset, but they’re the kind of tools that successful practitioners will need in the years to come.

I’ll be joined on stage by Hayden Blackburn, executive director of Tech Fort Worth, a nonprofit organization that has been helping entrepreneurs launch and grow emerging technology companies for 20 years.

I’d like to hear from you, so I invite you to submit questions in advance to by close of business on Tuesday.

The Forum is at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in MET 109-111. I hope to see you there.

My best always,

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Dr. Michael R. Williams
UNTHSC President
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