Dream, Dare, Do.

Dream, Dare, Do.  Central Texas’s Future Medical School


Central Texas is about to get a lot healthier, thanks to support from the City of Austin and a partnership between The University of Texas System, Seton Healthcare Family and Central Health to build the state-of-the-art Dell Medical School. It’s been a long time coming for Central Texans to benefit from all the healthcare perks a med school brings a community, including more health research, more health funding and more health sector businesses looking to open up operations around the new med school campus. 
On Monday, January 13, key players in the development of the Dell Medical School and expansion of health care services to Central Texans engaged in an, in-depth four-part dialogue with  CIE’s Osher Lifelong Learning (OLLI) program about the future of health care delivery to Central Texas. The guests were the following:

  • Kirk Watson, Texas Senator for District 14 and principle legislative advocate for the development of the UT Dell Medical School.
  • Dr. Robert O Messing, Vice Provost for The University of Texas at Austin Biomedical Sciences and co-chair of the steering committee for the new UT Dell Medical School.
  • Ms. Patricia “Trish” Young Brown, President & CEO of Central Health.
  • Greg Hartman, Seton Healthcare President, Academic Medicine, Research & External Affairs. Greg has been heavily involved in the efforts to create a collaboration between Seton, UT Austin, UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, the UT System and Central Health to bring translational medical research and academic medicine to Central Texas, including the new UT Dell Medical School.
 Questions during the discussion ranged from “what will it look like?” and “how much will it cost?” to “how bad will the traffic on I-35 get because of it?” and “how will the Affordable Care Act play into the new school?”
Although there are still more details to be ironed out over the coming two years before the new med school opens, it was clear from the speakers that a somewhat unique approach to transforming medicine is taking place.
According to Dr. Messing, “serial lectures will be removed and replaced by more compressed information and online delivery of information.” Med school students will also have an opportunity to learn more about how they can work within an affordable care organization, something students in the past have not had to concern themselves with as much.  “Private practice will be in the dinosaur pile,” said Messing.
On the organizational side of the med school build out, Seton and Central Health have coined their vision, Dream, Dare, Do as they strive to improve the healthcare infrastructure and adopt state-of-the-art technologies befitting the 11th largest city in the nation.
Seton and Central Health will focus more on research and outreach to vulnerable populations in the community, including a growing elderly population, or as Greg Hartman stated “the silver tsunami.” Austin is witnessing the second fastest growth rate in the nation of people over 65.  “The elderly are growing and are going to need twice as much healthcare,” said Hartman.
What was clear from the discussion is that we should be seeing a new med school opening in Austin in 2016.  Just this week, UT announced Dr. Clay Johnston as the Dean of the Dell Medical School.  Johnston joins UT from the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine where he has served as the associate vice chancellor of research and director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. 
There is no doubt that with leadership coming from outside the state, coupled with the national interest in how UT’s new medical school may transform medicine, what happens here truly does change the world.