A long preamble to a simple invitation…Almost every morning I read a few online news sources. A typical day at my desk begins with quick perusal of Statnews Morning Rounds an online healthcare news source, the online version of Boston Globe, Academe Today (online Chronicle of Higher Education), and finally Inside Higher Ed.
Finding out what is happening in the world, in healthcare, and in the world of higher education help me think about my work and the Institute. I find that I constantly need to ask myself if we are paying attention to the “right stuff.” Every day I realize my gratitude for being able to work and learn at the IHP and I hope you feel the same way.
A few of this morning’s headlines, however, hit me in the gut. I find a connectedness in the following headlines that is difficult and downright scary for me.
An Unspeakable Carnage (Boston Globe, 10/3/2017)
Las Vegas Hospitals Rush to Help Shooting Victims (Statnews, Oct.3, 2017)
Half of people in Puerto Rico don’t have clean water (Statnews, 10/3/17)
Don’t Expect Congress to take action on mass shootings (Boston Globe, 10/3/17)
Alzheimer’s Patient in multimillion dollar pharma ad may soon be homeless (Statnews 10/3/17)
Scholars renew calls for US to fund research on gun violence (Inside Higher Ed, 10/3/17)
Health providers weigh in on reused syringes (statnews, 10/3/17)
Gun violence, clean water, environmental issues, homelessness for disabled persons, and the drug epidemic weigh heavily on all of us, but I see a thread in all of these headlines -the healthcare thread- that links these messages with each other and with us as tin the academic setting . Our students, who are being prepared as healthcare providers and researchers, who will be called upon to address the impact of violence by caring for victims as first responders and rehabilitationists, to address the impact of environmental problems and weather related disasters, to study the effect of low resources on the health of populations, and to continue to address the needs of underserved people in our society. The root themes of poverty, racial and gender based inequity, and education cannot be ignored as underlying contributors to these vexing nightmarish problems. There is no opportunity to avoid the impact of these issues on our work together, as we face the future of our healthcare system. The reality of these now all too common occurrences and their systemic underpinnings are now part of our pedagogy and cannot be ignored in the classroom or clinical educational setting.
On a more hopeful side, I believe that as an educational community, we are preparing health care leaders who will be well equipped to tackle these problems when they occur. Most important, I believe that our graduates will help accomplish the goal of addressing causal factors that mitigate these horrific events in our future. As educators, we can help accelerate these future solutions by assuring that our students leave equipped with tools and skills for leadership, problem solving, innovation, and advocacy. These systems oriented solutions are critical additions to the excellent foundational work in clinical skill development, patient decision making, and ethical and interprofessional practice that are the hallmarks of an MGH Institute education.
In the coming weeks, I want to spend extra time reflecting on these solutions as we continue to face disturbing headlines. Let me know if you are interested in joining me for reflection and discussion around these issues and their impact on our work. Email me at email@example.com and I will follow up with you soon!