Health care changes require doctors to rethink roles, speaker tells medical students

Sep 23, 2018

Bruce Vanderhoff, M.D., M.B.A., of OhioHealth speaks after receiving the Phillips Medal.

While advancing technology will enable doctors “to do things for patients that hitherto we couldn’t have dreamed of,” it will also challenge them to “rethink our role as physicians,” a top executive from OhioHealth told incoming medical students from the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine Sunday.

Bruce Vanderhoff, M.D., M.B.A., spoke at the medical school’s 43 rd Annual Convocation and White Coat Ceremony at the Ohio University Convocation Center in Athens, where 266 students enrolled at the college’s three campuses – the largest class in its history – received short white coats signifying their status as physicians in training. Vanderhoff, chief medical officer and senior vice president of OhioHealth, the largest health care system in central Ohio, also received the college’s Phillips Medal of Public Service, which he called “the greatest honor that has been bestowed upon me in my career.”

Vanderhoff asked the future doctors to consider, “what role will you play in writing the continuing history” of the medical profession. The most promising future for health care, he suggested, is one in which care is more affordable and easier for patients to navigate, doctors focus on “keeping people well rather than waiting to treat them when they’re sick,” and the physician is not just a care provider, but also an educator and a team leader.

OhioHealth is the Heritage College’s preeminent education partner for its Dublin, Ohio, campus. Vanderhoff, who played a key role in creating this partnership, noted that the close relationship between the college and OhioHealth has a long history, with OhioHealth Doctors Hospital serving as one of the first clinical training sites for Heritage College students.

Throughout their histories, the two organizations have shared a commitment to training the next generation of physicians to practice in Ohio communities, Vanderhoff noted. “Our organizations have such common culture,” he said. “But while both OhioHealth and Ohio University have rich histories of service in our state, both remain forward-thinking institutions.” 

In his opening remarks, Kenneth Johnson, D.O., Heritage College executive dean and Ohio University chief medical affairs officer, congratulated the students on being the first to be trained in the college’s new Pathways to Health and Wellness Curriculum, putting them “at the front lines of important changes in medical education.” He also expressed his pride in the fact that 94 percent of the incoming class members are from Ohio, 21 percent are from minority backgrounds and 22 percent are first-generation college students.

Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis, Ph.D., told the new medical students that they are “entering our medical school at an historic time. Together, we embark on a renewed era of excellence and unprecedented opportunities for our students, our faculty and for the communities they serve.”

Adam Rabe, OMS II, who serves as 2018-19 president of the Student Government Association at the Heritage College, Dublin, told the class of 2022 that their white coats “will change people’s perspective of you. Every time you walk into a patient’s room, you will bring with you every memory that patient has of their interaction with physicians, both good and bad.” Therefore, he said, the students will have the responsibility to use the respect conferred by the white coat “to leave each patient a little better off than you found them.”