Physicians undergo long and rigorous training before being allowed to
practice medicine. Part of this medical education involves
direct treatment of patients under the supervision of experienced physicians,
especially at teaching hospitals—hospitals
that are affiliated with medical schools and serve as "classrooms" for physicians,
nurses, and other health care workers in training. At teaching hospitals,
treatment plans are approved by an experienced physician and patients have
the advantage of being cared for by a team of doctors, students, and nurses.
The September 1, 2004, issue of JAMA is a theme issue
on medical education. This Patient Page is adapted from one originally published
in the September 5, 2001, JAMA medical education
Teaching hospitals often are part of academic health
centers (AHCs), which also may include medical and nursing schools,
clinics, emergency departments, freestanding outpatient care centers, hospices,
and individual and group practices staffed by a mix of senior physicians and
medical personnel in training. In addition to medical education, they provide
Research—Academic health centers perform
many kinds of health-related research. This research has led to new ways of
preventing, diagnosing, and treating illnesses that affect millions of adults
and children. Research facilities also contribute to local economies by providing
high-paying, skilled jobs.
Care for the underserved—More than half of
the people admitted to AHCs are patients covered under Medicaid or people
with little or no access to health care and often no medical insurance, such
as migrants, immigrants, battered women, and uninsured children. Without AHCs,
providing care for medically underserved patients would be difficult or would
Specialized treatment—Patients who obtain
treatment in AHCs often have severe and rare medical conditions. The staff
at AHCs often are expert in treating complicated illnesses and performing
complex surgeries and other medical procedures.
Community service—Academic health centers
provide community health clinics, health advocacy, health fairs (including
screening for diabetes or other diseases, vision testing, and blood pressure
testing), vaccinations, and other preventive services.
Academic health centers are essential for educating physicians and other
medical staff and for providing first-rate health care and medical research
in the United States.
Association of American Medical Collegeshttp://www.aamc.org
American Hospital Associationhttp://www.aha.org/aha/index.jsp
To find this and previous JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page
link on JAMA's Web site at http://www.jama.com. A Patient Page on medical
education was published in the September 6, 2000, issue; one on continuing medical education was published in
the September 4, 2002, issue; and one on medical specialties was published in the September 3, 2003, issue.
Sources: American Board of Medical Specialties, American Hospital Association,
American Medical Association, Association of American Medical Colleges, The
The JAMA Patient Page is a public service of JAMA. The information and
recommendations appearing on this page
are appropriate in most instances, but they are not a substitute for medical
diagnosis. For specific information concerning your personal medical
condition, JAMA suggests that you consult your physician. This page
may be photocopied noncommercially by physicians and other health care professionals
to share with patients. Any other print or online reproduction is subject
to AMA approval. To purchase bulk reprints, call 718/946-7424.
TOPIC: MEDICAL EDUCATION
Stevens LM, Lynm C, Glass RM. Academic Health Centers. JAMA. 2004;292(9):1134. doi:10.1001/jama.292.9.1134