Are Physicians Prepared to Respond to the Changing Healthcare Landscape?

A conference at the New York Academy of Sciences will focus on how to effectively train physicians and health researchers to provide high-quality, equitable care in light of widespread health disparities.

The American healthcare landscape is changing rapidly due to shifting demographics, rising costs, and policy changes such as the Affordable Care Act. In light of these changes, physicians and clinical researchers are challenged to acquire the necessary tools to provide high-quality, affordable, and equitable care to all. On Tuesday, October 2, representatives from medical schools will convene to discuss Prioritizing Health Disparities in Medical Education to Improve Care, presented by The Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, the Associated Medical Schools of New York, NYU School of Medicine, and the New York Academy of Sciences.

“There is national emphasis on the priorities of reducing healthcare cost and improving quality,” says Marc Nivet, EdD, Chief Diversity Officer, Association of American Medical Colleges. “These are laudable goals, but these efforts alone will not be sufficient to tackle health disparities with deep structural and societal origin. Ensuring a diverse, linguistically and culturally competent clinical and biomedical research workforce must also be a national priority, if we’re serious about health equity.” Nivet will be speaking on the topic of “Diversity as a Driver of Health Equity.”

Reducing inequities in healthcare will require broadening medical training to include health disparities education and research beyond the current focus on race and ethnicity to consider determinants such as socioeconomic status, environmental conditions, gender identity, sexual orientation, behavioral choices, and access to medical care.

“Understanding and correcting health disparities is an important national priority. Educating the next generation of students in this area is essential if we are to achieve that goal,” says George Thibault, MD, President, The Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation.

Designed for medical school administrators, policy makers, clinicians, and researchers, and medical students, the conference, to be held at the Academy’s headquarters in New York City, will convene representatives from medical schools that have incorporated emerging health disparities themes into their curricula to discuss three major topics. These topics include:

  • Innovative teaching models for incorporating health disparities research into the curriculum while emphasizing the role of physicians in preserving health;
  • Attracting medical trainees to health disparities research; and
  • Improving the recruitment of underrepresented minority medical students with a health disparities curriculum.

“To adapt the training of 21st century physicians to the ever-changing and increasingly diverse population healthcare landscape, it is critical to not only teach bedside skills for culturally competent care of the individual patient, but also to take the vitals of a family, a neighborhood, or a community linked to that patient in order to address possible barriers to achieving and maintaining optimal health,” says Conference Organizer and Chair Fritz François, MD, MSc, FACG, Associate Dean for Diversity and Academic Affairs, NYU School of Medicine, who will be giving a lecture on “Addressing Health Disparities through Molecular Epidemiology.”

A special panel discussion organized in collaboration with the New York Academy of Sciences’ Science Alliance program will allow medical students from health disparities research programs at various institutions to discuss their own experiences and provide recommendations to further improve student training.

“Now more than ever before there is a clear understanding that cross-cultural medical education is critical in preparing our healthcare workforce to deliver high-quality, equitable care to an increasingly diverse population. Our rapidly changing healthcare system requires that we are all prepared to take care of any patient, at anytime, anywhere—and students recognize this need and are calling for our leadership in preparing them to meet this challenge,” says Conference Chair Joseph Betancourt, MD, MPH, Director, The Disparities Solutions Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, who will be giving a lecture on “Improving Quality and Achieving Equity through Cross-cultural Education.”

“The NYS medical schools are training a diverse and culturally competent workforce that recognizes that part of their collective responsibility is to address issues of access and health equity,” says Jo Wiederhorn, President and CEO of the Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY). “AMSNY remains committed to promoting diversity in medicine as a means to eliminate health disparities and significantly improve healthcare outcomes.”

Additional lectures will cover topics such as linking university health resources to social determinants in the community, training medical students to deliver comprehensive LGBT patient care, and health disparities and social justice. A networking reception will follow the conference programming.

For more information, including the full conference agenda, visit

Media must RSVP to:
Diana Friedman
(212) 298-8645

About The Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation
The Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation is a privately endowed philanthropy located in the borough of Manhattan, New York City. The Foundation supports programs designed to improve the education of health professionals in the interest of the health of the public, and to enhance the representation of minorities in the health professions. Visit the Foundation at

About the Associated Medical Schools of New York
Incorporated in 1967, the Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) is a consortium of the sixteen public and private medical schools in New York State. Working in partnership with its members, AMSNY’s mission is to promote high quality and cost-efficient health care by assuring that the medical schools of New York State can provide outstanding medical education, care, and research. Visit the Associated Medical Schools of New York at

About NYU School of Medicine
NYU School of Medicine is one of the nation’s preeminent academic institutions dedicated to achieving world class medical educational excellence. For 170 years, NYU School of Medicine has trained thousands of physicians and scientists who have helped to shape the course of medical history and enrich the lives of countless people. An integral part of NYU Langone Medical Center, the School of Medicine at its core is committed to improving the human condition through medical education, scientific research and direct patient care. Visit NYU School of Medicine at

About the New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With 25,000 members in 140 countries, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy’s core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at

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© 2012 The New York Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.