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Preparing Physicians to Care for Patients in the 21st Century

One hundred years after landmark medical education report, AMA and AAMC convene historic conference to explore the future of physician education and training

For immediate release:
Sept. 16, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Preparing the next generation of physicians to best care for America during this historic time of health system change is a critical challenge facing the medical community. To tackle this challenge, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) will convene a historic conference of medical leaders to explore the future of medical education. 

The invitational conference, “New Horizons in Medical Education: A Second Century of Achievement,” will be held in Washington, D.C. September 20-22 and coincides with the 100th anniversary of the landmark Flexner Report, which standardized medical education in North America. Participants will focus on core themes in medical education to ensure that future physicians are prepared to practice in a complex medical environment.

“Health care is evolving at a dizzying pace, with scientific and technological breakthroughs helping physicians care for patients, and medical education needs to keep up with innovation while maintaining its strong foundation,” said AMA Immediate Past President J. James Rohack, M.D. “Our nation is on the cusp of historic health system change, and this timely conference will help the medical community create a roadmap for educating future generations of physicians.”

“A century ago, the Flexner Report laid the groundwork for a high-caliber medical education system that provides graduates with a solid scientific foundation, as well as training for state-of-the-art practice,” said AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, M.D. “This important anniversary gives us the opportunity to reflect on those accomplishments and decide upon the new directions we must take to transform medical education once again, and meet the health care needs of patients in the 21st century.”

The joint conference builds upon the strong history of the AMA and the AAMC as leaders in medical education. The two groups founded the Liaison Committee on Medical Education in 1942, which accredits all U.S. and Canadian medical schools. Speakers at the conference will include Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Dr. Donald Berwick, Dr. Lois Nora, president emeritus of Northeastern Ohio College of Medicine, and Dr. Brian Hodges, director of Toronto General Hospital’s Wilson Center for Research in Education.  Hundreds of leaders in the medical education field, including physicians, medical students and residents will participate.  Key areas of discussion will include:

Education in the context of real-life medical practice

Medical education needs to align more closely with the current practice of medicine, and prepare students for changes in the health care system. Physicians must deal with insurers and other administrative burdens, meet state and federal regulations, and keep up with advancements in modern medicine. Medical students and resident/fellow physicians need training in practice management essentials such as billing, coding, work flow, staffing, as well as financial and legal matters. In addition, physicians need a better understanding of how to communicate with their patients for improved care.  Participants will discuss how to best prepare medical students and residents to hit the ground running on their first day of independent medical practice.

Ensuring enough physicians to meet the health care demands of America

The composition and distribution of the physician workforce must meet the current and projected health care needs of the U.S. By 2025, about 159,000 more physicians will be needed to care for the growing population. More physicians are needed in particular medical specialties, such as primary care, geriatrics, and general surgery, and in underserved rural and inner-city areas of the country. Attendees will focus on how to make this a reality, including incentives for physicians to practice in underserved areas.

Using health information technology

Health information technology (IT), such as electronic prescribing and electronic medical records, offer great promise for improving patient safety and the quality of care in the practice of medicine. Medical education must prepare future physicians to make full use of the new opportunities provided by health IT tools. Technology can also support new methods for learning like medical simulation to help students at all levels hone their skills in a realistic environment. The discussion will consider what has been done to date and analyze ways to prepare students to effectively use health IT systems for efficient health care delivery and improved health care quality.

Improving the educational continuum

To create a true medical education continuum, participants will discuss how to better define and measure appropriate benchmarks of performance and support learning throughout a physician’s career. They will also explore how to promote quality and flexibility throughout the medical education process by enhancing the linkages between the organizations that grant certification, licensure and accreditation for physicians.

A recent supplement to Academic Medicine, the AAMC’s peer-reviewed journal, highlighting innovations in medical education since 2000, will serve as the foundation of the conference discussions. 


Visit www.ama-assn.org/go/newhorizons for podcasts of the conference’s speeches. Videos are available upon request. Video highlights of the conference highlights will be posted the following day.

Spokespeople from AMA and AAMC are available for interviews.

Conference Agenda


5:00 – 5:15 p.m.
Welcome and Expectations for the Conference

  • John E. Prescott, MD, Chief Academic Officer, Association of American Medical Colleges
  • Susan E. Skochelak, MD, MPH, Vice President, Medical Education, American Medical Association

5:15 – 5:45 pm
Keynote Address

  • Barbara Barzansky, PhD, Director, Division of Undergraduate Medical Education, American Medical Association, Abraham Flexner and the Era of Medical Education Reform


8:30 – 9:15 a.m.
Plenary Session I       

  • Brian Hodges, MD, PhD, Director, Wilson Center for Research in Education, Toronto General Hospital, Changes to the Educational Program for Students and Residents From a “Tea-Bag Steeping” Model to Competence-Based Education

1:45 – 2:30 p.m.
Plenary Session II  

  • Donald Berwick, MD, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Department of Health and Human Services, Role of Society and the Institutions


8:30 – 9:15 a.m.
Plenary Session III  

  • Lois Nora, MD, JD, President Emeritus, Northeastern Ohio College of Medicine, The Faculty Member in the Educational Process

11:30 – 12:30 p.m.
Summary Remarks 

  • Darrell Kirch, MD, President and CEO, Association of American Medical Colleges
  • J. James Rohack, MD, Immediate Past President, American Medical Association

12:30 p.m.
Meeting concludes


Leah Dudowicz
(312) 464-4813

Retha Sherrod
(202) 828-0975

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