But in addition to teaching the next generation of physicians and surgeons, they also do so much more—especially now in the age of Obamacare.
Medical schools are hotbeds of scientific discovery. Connected to universities and teaching hospitals, they conduct research—ranging from laboratory studies to understand how disease develops to clinical trials of the latest experimental drugs. This bench-to-bedside approach to research ensures that the most cutting-edge therapies make it to patients as quickly as possible.
Medical schools fall under the radar for many people except in times of grave illness or personal catastrophe. When critical, highly advanced care is required, then academic medical centers, which combine teaching hospitals with university-based schools for doctors, nurses, and other health professionals, enter the picture.
Academic medical centers are the place to go for the most complicated and life-threatening conditions, like organ transplants, intensive care for newborn babies, and traumatic injuries. Staffed by medical school faculty, they have the expertise and the latest technologies needed to treat rare or complex diseases and perform the most intricate procedures.
Doctors at medical schools also treat patients with less serious conditions at offices throughout the community. Many provide care to the medically underserved through Medicare and Medicaid. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the nation’s 120 academic medical centers provide about 40 percent of all hospital-based charity care.
The Affordable Care Act has been pushing medical schools and other healthcare providers to rethink business as usual—especially in the realm of patient care. Now medical schools—working in partnership with universities, teaching hospitals, the government, and private industry—are figuring out ways to expand access to high-quality healthcare to all Americans, while keeping the costs to society under control.
Read more: What Medical Schools Do Today.