Caring For The Next Generation of Caregivers

I had lunch yesterday with the Dean of the Honors College at The University of Texas at Dallas, and with the faculty director of the PACT program at UTD, a collaboration with UT-Southwestern medical school that allows highly-qualified high school students to complete undergraduate and medical education in seven years instead of the usual eight.  I should say “allowed” because the program is being phased out due to funding cuts.  I have mixed feelings about this, because I worry that abbreviated educational programs are headed in the wrong direction, given the explosion of information that requires mastery. What generally gets cut is the “fluffy stuff” like literature and other arts, stuff that I care a lot about, and believe is fundamental to creating healers.  On the other hand, having spent a semester with some of these students, I now recognize what extraordinary students they are, and believe that with enough exposure to the things that we discussed in my class, they would grow into excellent physicians.  So, although I won’t be teaching in the PACT program anymore, I am happy to report that the Honors College, home to many premedical students, will also be the home to my class on the power of narrative, and its role in producing healers, beginning in spring, 2018. As I prepare to go to Charleston next week, to speak to the Southeastern Association of Advisors for the Health Professions (SAAHP) about helping premedical students learn to avoid burnout, I feel hopeful for the future.  I’m doing my small part, and these incredible advisors are doing much more to help the next generation be the kind of doctors we all want.

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