Letters to the Editor

Conference gives future vision of health care

The figures are sobering. As a country, the United States ranks 37th in the world in health outcomes.

Nationwide, Florida stands at 33 out of 50 states. Statewide, Miami-Dade County places 54th in quality of life and 52nd in clinical care out of 67 counties.

By some estimates, more than 80 percent of disease in America is not due to biological causes, but to so-called “social determinants of health.” These include lack of education and transportation, poor nutrition, housing difficulties, zip code, violence, racism, and corruption, to list a few.

Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM) at Florida International University is the first medical school in America to teach, address and tackle these issues to improve the health of our communities through programs like NeighborhoodHELP. Others must follow.

George Washington University Colleges of Medicine and HWCOM will co-host the 2016 Beyond Flexner Conference in Miami from Sept. 19 to 21 to address the social mission and accountability of institutions of higher learning, particularly those in the field of health education. Beyond Flexner is a national movement focused on training the next generation of health professionals to build a health care system that truly cares and that is not only better, but fairer.

This conference serves as an example that institutions of higher education, public and private, that depend on public dollars to teach health professionals, have a responsibility to not only educate, but to show improvement in the health of their communities.

They must contribute to the social mission and be accountable for their outcomes and in doing so, prepare the next generation of health professionals for the future.

Pedro Greer, Jr., M.D.,

Associate Dean for Community Engagement,

Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine,

Florida International