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Commentary: Academic Health Centers: The Compelling Need for Recalibration

Wartman, Steven A. MD, PhD, MACP

Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181fa0001

Although academic health centers (AHCs) represent a unique combination of teaching, research, and patient care, it is no longer enough to say that their missions are solely education, research, and patient care. Rather, these “missions” must be viewed as functions that enable institutions to achieve their overarching mission: the improved health and well-being of their communities. Focusing more sharply on this goal requires a recalibration of the AHC enterprise such that education is more explicitly linked to societal needs, research to health, and patient care to specific community and regional needs. Guiding principles to lead this recalibration include an alignment of the functions of teaching, research, and patient care; a tangible commitment to a partnership with the community; and a collaborative engagement with other AHCs on a national and international scale.

Author Information

Dr. Wartman is president/CEO, Association of Academic Health Centers, Washington, DC.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Wartman, Association of Academic Health Centers, 1400 16th St. NW, Suite 720, Washington, DC 20036; telephone: (202) 265-9600; e-mail:

© 2010 Association of American Medical Colleges