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Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000095
Commentaries

What Is the Value and Role of Academic Medicine in the Life of Its University?

Azziz, Ricardo MD, MBA, MPH

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Abstract

National and global events are rapidly and irrevocably driving transformation in both academia and health care. One result is an increase in the pace of institutional restructuring, consolidations, and mergers, including the melding of academic medical centers (AMCs; i.e., medical schools and their clinical enterprises) with nonmedical universities. Georgia Regents University (GRU) resulted from one such recent consolidation, and the experience at the institution has highlighted the need to answer the question “What is the value and role of academic medicine and an AMC in the life and transformation of its university?”

In attempting to answer this question, the author first contrasts the cultural features of academic medicine and nonmedical faculty and leaders, as observed from the GRU experience, which might be useful for leaders of other institutions of higher education. His analysis suggests that academic medicine is currently significantly insulated from the larger university, and that this segregation or siloing represents a lost opportunity for both the AMC and the university at large. The author’s experience suggests that fostering greater synergy between the university and its AMC adds significant value, and that such synergy better ensures the ability of those universities with an AMC to undertake and meet future transformative challenges. Strategies should be proactively developed both to enhance academic medicine leaders’ engagement with, exposure to, and education regarding the operations and challenges of higher education and the broader university, and, likewise, to increase nonmedical faculty’s understanding of and experience with the value and unique challenges of academic medicine.

© 2014 by the Association of American Medical Colleges

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