Fulfilling the Medical School's Role in the Community
Take a moment and think about what that word means to you. Is it a responsibility to others? An opportunity for support and interaction? How many communities do you belong to? A professional community, the University community, your neighborhood community, our world community…
Community can be seen as the opposite of self-interest, and as a land-grant university, we have a specific responsibility to bring care, compassion and practical medical care to the community around us: the people of Minnesota. This public service is not so much a duty as an opportunity to see that the knowledge that comes out the University actually benefits people and has value.
As a Medical School, as a University, we are measuring our results against that public benefit. Are we improving medical care? Are we reducing suffering throughout the world? And we must not only focus on the times of crisis in a person’s health but on their everyday life and preventative care, on the premise that good health is the foundation of human dignity.
We are a community of experts, ambassadors of the wealth of knowledge here at the U. Ironically, we live in a time when the value of expertise is being devalued across society. Our community does not always look to us for help and information, but we still have the role of bringing knowledge to our community. A wealth of information mixes with a tremendous amount of misinformation and results in an indiscriminate downpour of fact and fiction that is difficult for people to sort through. The University serves a dual function, both as a clearinghouse—by taking neutral information and giving it value by putting it in context, biomedical, historical or otherwise—and as the source of the experience, research and clinical trials that separate credible information from the incredible.
Key to fulfilling our place in our community, we need—now more than ever—to engage with the public, with the people who help us know what society needs. The community grounds us by connecting our mission to inclusivity, to social justice and to the fulfillment of individual potential. This is relevant as the community comes through our doors as students, as patients and as employees.
We engage, we interact, we listen and we create an iterative process loop that helps us build a better community, a better University and a better Medical School.
Be kind. Pursue excellence. Make a difference.
Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD
Dean of the Medical School, interim Vice President of the Health Sciences