A recent opinion piece published by InsiderAdvantage claims that the Medical College of Georgia is secretly indoctrinating and training our medical students to practice racial discrimination in their treatment of patients. As a faculty member at MCG since 1991, chair of neurology for 17 years and dean of the college for the past six years, I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth.
At issue is a presentation provided by one of our faculty members as part of the college’s Grand Rounds seminars, which like similar venues at medical schools around the world are open-invitation opportunities for faculty and students to hear from clinicians and others on a variety of topics across the medical disciplines. At MCG, Grand Rounds are not part of the curriculum nor are they required for students to graduate.
In a sense, Grand Rounds seminars at MCG, of which there are hundreds every year, are an opportunity for faculty and students to engage in a free exchange of ideas – a time-honored and key element of higher education. Grand Rounds topics are fairly wide open and span the spectrum of clinical and topical issues, ranging from well-known medical concerns like the latest treatments for those suffering with PTSD, to ideas for improving outcomes for those with rare diagnoses like breast cancer leptomeningeal disease. And yes, there are presentations that explore controversial concepts like racism in medicine.
Contrary to what the opinion piece criticizing MCG implied about our training of medical students, our faculty researchers and clinicians focus on what most impacts the health of Georgia’s and America’s children and adults, including cardiovascular biology and disease, cancer, neurosciences and behavioral sciences, public and preventive health, regenerative and reparative medicine, personalized medicine and genomics. Our students and residents train with physicians and hospitals across Georgia at about 350 sites, from complex care hospitals to small-town solo practices.
Do we recognize that there are disparities in health outcomes between different populations? Yes, that is beyond dispute, and it’s one of the reasons we are proud that 60% of our graduates go into primary care, where they practice medicine by taking into consideration the whole person. It’s also why we tirelessly work to increase the number of physicians who provide care to patients in medically underserved communities across Georgia.
There is a great deal of discussion about the proper role of higher education in society today, especially that which takes place at publicly-funded institutions – and that is entirely appropriate. What is not appropriate are intentional mischaracterizations directed at the Medical College of Georgia that only serve to malign the nearly 200 years of improving health and health care that the college has provided in Georgia and beyond through education, discovery and service.
David C. Hess, MD is the dean of the Medical College of Georgia and executive vice president of Medical Affairs and Integration for Augusta University