This summer, Texas’ newest medical school welcomes its inaugural class of 60 students, with Privia Medical Group North Texas physicians among the faculty training the next generation of doctors. The new medical school, the result of a collaboration between Texas Christian University and the University of North Texas Health Science Center, is the first M.D. school in Tarrant County. UNT has long had a College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth.
Formally known as the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine, students will attend classes on both campuses and train in hospitals and clinics across North Texas. The school will emphasize the ever-increasing role of technology in healthcare and how to best use it for the benefit of patients. The school will also emphasize its trademarked Empathetic Scholars program, with the intention of helping physicians learn how to “walk in a patient’s shoes.”
The School of Medicine has recruited a team of experienced physicians to serve on its faculty, including seven Privia physicians in a variety of specialty areas:
- John Birbari, General Surgery
- Charles Carlton, Internal Medicine
- Norman Davenport, Internal Medicine
- Craig Dearden, Internal Medicine
- Triwanna Fisher-Wikoff, Family Practice
- Aroon Kalakunja, Hospitalist
- Mohanakrishnan Sathyamoorthy (“Dr. Mo”), Cardiology
The physicians are serving in a variety of different capacities as faculty members at the School of Medicine. For example, Dr. Mo serves as Professor and Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine. Dr. Birbari is the clerkship director for surgery and will oversee the core surgical clinical experience for all students as part of the Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LIC) program.
In the LIC, students have a ‘home’ in a clinical practice over an entire year or more. The LIC model is used by the medical schools at Harvard University and Duke University for one year of the student’s medical education. At the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine, students will participate in LIC for all four years of school.
Dr. Davenport, Dr. Dearden and Dr. Fisher-Wikoff will be part of the LIC program as well.
The LIC is centered around a “commitment to bedside medical student clinical teaching, particularly as it relates to development of patient/doctor communication skills and relationship,” according to Dr. Dearden.
As a preceptor in the LIC program, “I will mentor and teach physical examinations, physician and patient interaction, prescribing medicine and more,” Dr. Davenport explains.
Dr. Fisher-Wikoff says her role will be similar. “The student will start off coming to my office a few times a month and increase in frequency,” she says. “I’ll be teaching the student how to conduct physical exams and how to put what they are learning in the classroom to use with an actual patient, learning pathology, diagnosis and more.”
Impact on Fort Worth
The establishment of a local M.D. school has long been a priority for Fort Worth civic, business and healthcare leaders. Now that this goal has been realized, Privia physicians agree there will be a significant positive impact on Fort Worth and Tarrant County.
Dr. Fisher-Wikoff believes the “new teaching style of the school will put Fort Worth on the map for new innovations” in healthcare as a result of an increased focus on technology in medicine, as well as the emphasis on teaching empathy.
Dr. Dearden agrees the school’s innovative approach will be of benefit to Fort Worth: “Over time, medical education will promote a more rapid dissemination of new technologies and knowledge to providers, as well as advance access and quality of care to patients.”
Dr. Davenport and Dr. Birbari both hope the school leads to more physicians choosing to establish their practices in North Texas.
“The School of Medicine should raise the bar of medical practice in Tarrant County and help us reach a higher level of excellence,” says Dr. Davenport. “Hopefully many of these students will return to Fort Worth to establish a practice.”
“It’s an opportunity for post-graduate training in Fort Worth and we will be better positioned to attract and retain outstanding physicians,” explains Dr. Birbari.
“I would hope Fort Worth embraces our new medical school. It is a wonderful new addition to our community’s education and public health,” adds Dr. Dearden.
Looking Forward to Serving
Asked what they are most looking forward to as a faculty member of the new medical school, the physicians expressed excitement about teaching and interacting with the students, as well as being a part of an innovative approach to medical education.
“I’m looking forward to being around hardworking, enthusiastic young people and getting to help students who are striving to be their best,” says Dr. Birbari.
“Teaching and learning while being involved in a novel, nontraditional medical education model” is what Dr. Dearden looks forward to, while Dr. Davenport is eager to see “how medical school is taught in 2020 and having an active input into the future of medicine. I’m also excited about consistent interaction with the same student.”
“I’m really excited about the opportunity because it is a different teaching style,” says Dr. Fisher-Wikoff. “Medical education is behind the times in catching up with today’s students and how they learn. This will be more appropriate and applicable to their learning style.” In addition, she looks forward to teaching “the art of medicine, which harkens back to the old apprenticeship model from 100-plus years ago,” as well as focusing on compassion for patients.
Dr. Birbari sees teaching and mentoring as a natural extension of his calling as a physician. “When we take our Hippocratic oath, we’re all promising to be teachers,” he explains. “It’s our privilege and duty to pass on to the next generation the skills and knowledge we have gained. After all, they’ll be taking care of us someday.”
That philosophy, combined with the continued need for additional physician teachers and mentors as the school grows, is why Dr. Birbari hopes other physicians will also join the faculty. “Everyone has something to contribute,” he contends. “There are varying levels of commitment, and there is a role for everyone.”
In fact, the school is looking for 600 doctors to help mentor and train the students, as highlighted in a recent article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. This is critical to the implementation of the LIC model, so that every student can learn under the direction of a practicing physician and interact with patients throughout their entire medical education.
Privia physicians work to change healthcare for the better, focusing on patient wellness and moving away from the “sick-care” model that has come to characterize healthcare. Dr. Birbari thinks Privia’s philosophy aligns well with that of the School of Medicine.
“A natural extension of our goals as a group is to embrace the philosophy of the School of Medicine,” he says. “We’ll hopefully help students understand how to break down institutional barriers and be the kind of doctor people want to have. The school will teach students how to weather the storms of medicine and preserve the joy of practicing medicine and the natural curiosity that all doctors must have. That’s the same approach we have at Privia.”
This article contains information sourced from: