Collaboration key to future of healthcare workforce, panel says

September 22, 2022

Collaboration is key to shaping the future healthcare workforce, healthcare leaders said at a recent roundtable.

This was the overwhelming consensus among experts and participants in The Future Health Workforce: Insights and Solutions discussion. The event, hosted by the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University, took place at ASU California Centerlocated in the historic Herald Examiner building in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.

Dean of the College of Health Solutions Deborah Helitzer (left) introduces Dr. Donna Elliott and Dr. Michael Kanter during “The Future Health Workforce: Insights and Solutions” panel discussion at ASU California Center in Los Angeles on Sept. 16. Photo by Carl Jimenez/ASU
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Moderated by the Dean and Professor of the College of Health Solutions Deborah Helitzerpanelists Dr. Donna Elliottassociate dean and professor of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, and Dr Michael Kanterprofessor and president of the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine, answered the question of how colleges and universities can prepare students for the challenges presented by our healthcare system.

BTwo physicians and educators noted that future physicians and other health care providers must learn to work with others in order to achieve better health outcomes.

High test scores won’t be enough

Elliott said high MCAT scores and grade point averages wouldn’t be the most valuable assets for medical school applicants.

“As medical schools screen the large number of applicants for those who can succeed in their institutions and in medicine in general, they are looking for students who have demonstrated the ability to function as part of a team,” said Elliott.

Kanter said modern medicine offers healthcare providers the ability to consume vast amounts of data about conditions and patients. But he said finding solutions to these concerns requires more than just being able to sift through raw data.

“Data by itself is useless, and I would say information, by itself, is almost as useless,” Kanter said. “It’s really the implementation of that information that has to happen. Students must learn to convert data into information and information into change. It involves leadership, thinking, how to work in a team and how to educate. I think it’s soft skills that will move this learning cycle forward.

Future doctors need a general program

After the discussion, health leaders answered questions from the audience about what they learned, what challenges them, and how we need to rethink health education and the workforce to reduce disparities and prepare for a better future through collaboration, transformation and innovation. Helitzer then closed the discussion by asking what schools like ASU’s College of Health Solutions could do to better prepare students for medical school.

Elliott said of the traditional pre-medical training that was in place when she went to medical school – subjects such as biology, chemistry, physics, calculus and English language skills were the most helpful.

She said today’s medical students need a broader curriculum.

“That’s the extent of education now,” Elliott said. “We need students who think, not memorize. Students who can think, imagine and apply what they learn. The more opportunities they have to do it before we get them, as well as after we get them, that’s what’s most important.

The full recording of the live chat is available on the College of Health Solutions Youtube channel.

This panel on “Future Health Workforce” was part of a series of events to mark ASU’s expansion into California at ASU California Center in downtown Los Angeles. Events are open to the public and designed to share ideas and explore collaborations on issues facing our communities.

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