Treating patients can be inspiring or traumatizing, it can be delightful or devastating. As medical professionals, we hold the responsibility and reap the rewards of direct patient care. I could never give up practicing because it is part of my identity and my purpose. It is also a great privilege. I have learned from my patients—and from treating them—how to live my life. For physicians, pharmacists, dentists, therapists, nurses and others, being in the medical field is a form of self-expression; we externalize our values in what we do and in how we are useful to others.
The best medical professionals I know take care of their patients—not as RVUs but as people who are like their brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons. What sets us apart at the University is that our desire to be good is not economic in origin. We are a land-grant University, and we have a special relationship and obligation to the people of Minnesota. In the Medical School, this manifests as the need to provide outstanding care. Patient care is, in fact, our front door to the community.
I feel that it is the Medical School's responsibility to make it easier for our clinical staff to achieve the level of excellence that our patients expect. To this end, we will work to simplify the process of regulation, to protect our energy of heart and mind, to make the system work for us (and not us for the system), to value again our administrative staff and to support our nurses, who are the core of patient experience.
As a first step in this direction, we will be recognizing efforts to promote clinical excellence. A Master Clinician track and an Academy for Excellence in Clinical Care will be added in 2018. In the same way we recognize excellence in scholarship and education, awardees will have their accomplishments celebrated on the Wall of Excellence in the halls that link Weaver-Densford Hall to the University Medical Center.
As we continue building on personal compassion for clinical care with process improvements from research and education, it is worthwhile to remember the way Abraham Flexner wrote about us in 1910:
Minnesota is perhaps the first state in the Union that may fairly be considered to have solved the most perplexing problems connected with medical education and practice.
That is a great legacy and our task for 2018. What brings us into the medical profession originally becomes our daily goal, to look at someone who is suffering and to help restore them to health, to their family and community, and to the fullness of life.
Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD
Dean of the Medical School, interim Vice President of the Health Sciences