In Lessons Blog

This week I was honored to visit San Jose City College (SJCC) to kick off the school’s Meet The Author series.

The event was organized by the President’s Community Arts and Lectures Series, which has welcomed to campus such notable literary figures as Alex Haley and playwright Luis Valdez. I was humbled by the invitation, and the opportunity to address members of the community in same the place where Martin Luther King Jr. and Caesar Chavez spoke decades ago.

I arrived Nov. 8 at the invitation of Dr. Maile Del Buono, a professor in the social sciences division who I met during a year-long leadership program through the American Leadership Foundation (ALF). She, like so many of our classmates, was not only successful in her profession but also motivated to assist others in their pursuits. Dr. Buono came to this country as a refugee 42 years ago. Her father got a job working for UC Davis Medical Center as an accountant, and was able to obtain health insurance for his family.

Above: Dr. Maile Del Buono, professor at San Jose City College. (Photo by Luis Martinez) 

Today, access to healthcare remains firmly in the forefront of our political discourse. I found that this topic resonated strongly with the students in attendance, many of whom come from diverse backgrounds.

San Jose City College (SJCC), one of the oldest community colleges in California, has a growing transfer rate to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the recent recognition from Latino Magazine as a top 25 college for Latinos.

(Photo by Luis Martinez) 

I was asked to speak about my book, “Mistreated: Why We Think We’re Getting Good Healthcare—and Why We’re Usually Wrong,” and had hoped to communicate to students the ideals of collaboration, cooperation and modern technology in American healthcare – imparting examples of what is possible in the right environment. Through their astute and pointed questions, it was clear to me that attendees recognized how much better the American healthcare system could be.

“Is single-payer healthcare coverage possible in America?”

To this, I emphasized my view that one payer is better than many, but that its success depends on how much will be paid, and whether the vagaries of our political system will undermine the reliability of people’s coverage.

It’s a topic I explored earlier this year in a Forbes article titled “Why A Government-Run, Single-Payer Healthcare Approach Is Doomed To Fail.” In it, I sought to explore the prevailing myths of such a program and why our nation would be better served by addressing what is most broken in healthcare today.

(Photo by Luis Martinez)

“Is health care better delivered with consistent, evidence-based approaches or when doctors are free to use their own judgement?”

When there is a clear best way to prevent or treat a problem, doctors achieve superior outcomes when they follow the science. At the same time, I stressed that the clinician’s experience and judgement are essential in circumstances where the science reveals no single “right way.”

Students interested in learning more about this topic should check out a related article, “Medicine Is An Art, Not A Science: Medical Myth Or Reality?”

“With so many doctors unhappy with their profession, why should students today pursue medicine as a career?”

This is a deeply important and complex question. And I have addressed both sides of it in recent articles, “Why This Is The Best Of Times To Be A Physician In America” and “Why This Is The Hardest Of Times…

Ultimately, I remain optimistic about the field of medicine. I told students how fulfilling it can be, and about the sense of joy that comes from knowing you have made someone healthier and improved a life.

(Photo by Luis Martinez)

Coming to San Jose City College gave me the opportunity to encourage bright young minds to pursue a rewarding and fulfilling career in medicine. As the population served across the United States becomes more diverse, attracting a more heterogeneous work force will become increasingly essential.

It was a powerful experience being surrounded by hundreds of motivated people who may someday become doctors and healthcare innovators – improving the health of individuals, families and their community. I left feeling optimistic for the future.

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