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College of Medicine Dean Discusses Medicine’s Social Mission on NPR

WASHINGTON (June 21, 2010) -- Howard University College of Medicine’s dean explained on a syndicated National Public Radio program Monday the college’s emphasis on social responsibility in its curriculum and why Howard was ranked third among America’s 141 medical schools in producing doctors that meet the nation’s new health care needs.

Dr. Robert E. Taylor explained during an hour-long discussion on the Kojo Nnamdi Show that instilling in students a sense of social responsibility has been a part of the college’s academic training and admission policies since its inception in 1868.

Taylor appeared on the program with Dr. John E. Prescott, chief academic officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges; Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan, Murdock Head Professor of Medicine and Health Policy at George Washington University School of Public Health and clinical professor of pediatrics at George Washington University School of Medicine, and Dr. Luis Padilla, medical director and family physician at Upper Cardozo Health Center, Unity Health Care.

Howard received its ranking in a study released June 14 by George Washington University, the first study ever to score all U.S. medical schools on their ability to meet a social mission. The study showed wide variations among institutions in their production of physicians who practice primary care, work in underserved areas and are minorities.

The authors said the findings are important in the context of U.S. health care today.

“The social mission of medicine and medical education should be important to everyone,” said Mullan, who was the lead author. “It isn’t just about rural areas or just about poor people, it’s about the entire fabric of how we deliver care.

“As patients are insured through health reform, the first place they will go is the primary care office. Medical schools need to be mindful of the nation’s requirements for primary care, for doctors prepared to work in underserved communities and for minority physicians to help meet the growing and changing needs of the country.”