Dr. Vineet Arora: U of Chicago's newly appointed dean of medical education plans to fight hard for health equity

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Vineet Arora, MD, is the University of Chicago's next dean of medical education, a role that will become effective July 1. Her predecessor, Halina Brukner, MD, is retiring.

Her new position will oversee the education and training of medical students, residents and faculty.

Dr. Arora, who currently serves as the school's assistant dean of scholarship and discovery and associate chief medical officer for clinical learning environment, said she isn't partial to a phrase widely used throughout the pandemic: "the new normal."

"Maybe it's the new and improved, better that we need to aim for," she said. "There was nothing normal about what we were doing in medical education."

She referred to the last year of the pandemic as a "racial reckoning" and has prioritized a curriculum that exposes trainees to the inner workings of healthcare.

"The issues around structural racism and inequities are very real in medicine and in medical education," she said. "It is critical to our mission to train our students, residents, fellows and faculty on issues of social justice, and to provide them with tools of health system science so that they can improve care for everybody."

She is also eager to tackle burnout, a troubling issue plaguing physicians and trainees as a result of the pandemic. "We must look for ways to encourage and inspire our clinicians to enter fields that we critically need. That includes serving medically underserved communities."

As for the future of medical education, Dr. Arora thinks virtual learning is here to stay but hybrid forms will dominate. Virtual learning will be instrumental in providing residents with opportunities to learn in communities they otherwise wouldn't be able to.

"We need to prepare our physicians to be leaders and effective team members," she said.

 

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