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Flynn: Teamwork and technology will define new MDs

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Hear Dr. Flynn

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Wednesday, Aug. 17

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Dr. Stuart Flynn, founding dean of the new TCU/University of North Texas Health Science Center Medical School, recently invited Fort Worth area business leaders to the new school’s 2022 graduation ceremonies, to see for themselves what tomorrow’s best doctors will look like.

“Put it on your calendar. You will see excellence, compassion and empathy above all else,” Flynn said. “You will see excellent physicians who understand, above all else, that everything physicians do is about the patient.

“That’s how we are going to train the next generation,” he said. “We want them to practice medicine exactly the way you want to be treated when you are a patient.”

Graduates of the new medical school will be trained to embrace a team approach, working closely with nurses, pharmacists, therapists, nutritionists and other health care providers.

“Medicine has become a team sport,” Flynn said. “Your medical team will use very rapidly developing new technology as well as social media to provide the best possible patient care.

“We expect our graduates to embrace technology and become leaders in this exceptional time,” Flynn said at a noon luncheon hosted by the Fort Worth Chamber on June 23 as part of the Chamber’s “Leaders in Business” luncheon series.

When the new medical school’s first class of 60 doctors begins practice, one in five people in this country will be 65 or older, 90 percent of those people will have one or more chronic diseases and patients’ health will be tracked by bio-tech sensors that measure medicine levels in the blood and detect single cancer cells when they first begin to metastasize.

Pharmacists will know how your individual genes affect your medications, and sensors that circulate in the blood will track blood flow and blood pressure in real time, the new dean said.

Your lab results will already have arrived before you go to meet your physician so there will be more time to actively engage with your physician, resulting in more patient satisfaction and higher quality, less expensive care, he noted.

Also, the cell phone is “an unbelievable medical tool” and will only get better as technology continues to develop, he said. “You can have a home visit, contact your team 24/7 – have instant access … You will be able to hold your phone in your hand, measure your heart rhythm and send it to your doctor. … Doctors can monitor their patients in ICU from another continent.”

As for the importance of social media, Flynn cited a new study in which Microsoft scientists accurately distinguished between web searches that are casual or based on simple anxiety and those that are genuine searches for specific medical symptoms. By examining large samples of search engine queries, they were able to identify internet users who would ultimately be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, weeks and sometimes months before the cancer was diagnosed.

While pancreatic cancer is very deadly, earlier diagnosis could increase survival time and quality of life, researchers said.

“Our graduates will embrace this” kind of information, Flynn said. “Microsoft looked at patients and their queries and found a way to predict pancreatic cancer well before medicine had any clue. We cannot be dismissive of that … It’s a glimmer of hope – and it’s social media, for heaven’s sake.”

A former professor of pathology and surgery at Yale University School of Medicine, Flynn also served as director of Yale’s residency program and was a leader in designing and overseeing the school’s curriculum. Most recently, he was founding dean of the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

He said his first tasks in Fort Worth are to find superb faculty, design an outstanding four-year curriculum and get accredited.

“Of course the biggest question is how to develop more high quality residency programs right here in the Fort Worth community. … My biggest wish is to take this community and do something profound with graduate medical training – profound both in quantity and quality,” Flynn told the Fort Worth Business Press after his speech.

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