Dr Vineet Arora on the Role of Health Care Professionals, Medical Schools in Addressing Misinformation – AJMC. com Managed Markets Network
Individual clinicians can lead efforts to build trust in science and distribute accurate information, but medical schools also have an important role to play in training health care professionals to communicate with the particular public, according to Vineet Arora, MD, MAPP, dean for medical education at UChicago Medicine.
Can you discuss some takeaways of your work on how health care professionals can address misinformation and build rely upon science?
Yeah, so during the pandemic, I actually had a baby during the pandemic, March 30th associated with 2020. So yeah, think about what you were doing at that time plus what I was doing! And, you know, while my husband is the head of the hospitalist program, standing up COVID units, I had been having a baby in our obstetrics unit. Being on the sidelines was very hard, and so I wanted in order to contribute, but I noticed that I actually had a role in my community. While I used to be interacting with my neighbors and people while I was at home, I had been realizing that a lot of the info that people were getting and I was still seeing upon email within the hospital was just not permeating to my neighborhood or my nonmedical friends. And in fact, they were getting a lot of information, bad information from other sources.
And so I really started to think closely about how I can use my platform to lead in that space and starting to consider how we can do the better job of making sure people get good details. So , along with several of my colleagues across Chicagoland and other academic centers and in the particular community, all of us started a program called IMPACT, Illinois Medical Professionals Action Collaborative Team, to really put out good information and also tackle and crowdsource needs like helping vaccinate hardest-hit communities in Chicago, all volunteer based through a nonprofit that continues today.
Then through that will, I began to think as I became dean for healthcare education and sort of transitioned away of that role into this one, as the Surgeon General was declaring misinformation a public health crisis, what is it that will medical schools should do plus health professional colleges must do to address false information? We understand that if we don’t teach our clinicians to communicate well to the public, it could actually make misinformation worse. And so, 1 of the things we all started performing here is pioneering courses to teach about scientific literacy and communication towards the public with a science communicator.
It’s been really exciting to do this work, but also to see students and nurses now and pharmacists, as we’ve expanded along with an Association of American Medical Colleges grant to include other disciplines, and observe how this training not just empowers frontline physicians to have these conversations around vaccines or reproductive health or even whatever it is, but additionally makes them feel better regarding their ability to deal with the situation in their local community and with their patients. Plus so, I’m very excited about that workstream and hope it proceeds.