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The Social Responsibility of Canada’s Universities
Much like the elusive social contract that physicians have with society, the social responsibility owned by universities is just as important.
With regard to health care, it is widely recognized that, nationally, our health care system ratings are declining. A preoccupation with medical science, consumer demand, payment schedules, regulatory walls and litigation fears are only a few examples of why our system continues to significantly underperform and over-cost.
Universities have an essential role in the restitution of this.
The UBC Faculty of Medicine has started on the road towards restoration with initiatives such as its commitment to Indigenous health and its geographic expansion of education.
UBC’s focus on Indigenous health and the extensive supports it provides to Indigenous students have not only been essential to encourage individual success, but have had significant effect on physicians’ attitudes and practice. The rapid expansion of UBC campuses to include a great many rural and remote communities - with thousands of teachers across B.C. - has showed the immense value of learning in communities of lower medical resources and by utilizing a team-based approach.
These two initiatives have led to improved regional and rural physician recruitment, as well as more effective, holistic and person-centred medical training overall.
Advancements in technology and precision medicine are taking us even further - but they are not enough.
So, what of the future?
The only way to address this paradox is through full and inclusive collaboration with governments, universities, communities, health care managers and the public. Together, we must focus upon relationships, teamwork, patients as full partners and the continuity of care, all while acknowledging the importance and centrality of medical science.
As full collaborative partners in the structure and management of our health care system, universities can justify their time-honoured place in society and be worthy of the public and private funding.
The time for us to join together in improving our health care system is now.
Granger Avery, M.B., B.S.