David Nash, M.D., is the founding dean of the Jefferson College of Population Health at Thomas Jefferson University — the nation’s first college of population health. As a pioneer of the concept, Nash says schools need to do more than “check off the boxes” when it comes to bringing population health into medical education.
Many schools will create a department of population health or add a class or two on the subject, Nash says, but more is needed.
“What I see going on around the country is a belated but welcome recognition that this is important. We’ve been creating a physician who doesn’t understand current market forces,” he says. “We have to build a different kind of doctor for the future. That means changing the factory floor.” The primary factors needed for the rebuild are population health, quality and safety, he says.
When it comes to health care, outcomes are king. Evaluating the success of a program’s population health focus is a good step forward, says Nash. That involves threading population-based projects beyond Years 1 and 2, looking at the number of faculty members dedicated to the subject in graduate medical education and benchmarking the curriculum against schools with a proven track record in population health.
For more on how medical education is changing, check out Meet the MDs of the Future.