Academic medicine: providing better care and a healthier future

Here at USF Health, we have the best kind of evidence for why academic medicine matters: a healthy baby girl.

In October, one of our patients, Cynthia Coniglio gave birth to a full-term baby girl, Raven, after years of lost pregnancies and health complications.

The arrival of Baby Raven is wonderful news for Coniglio and her family. But in telling her story, Coniglio also talked about why she chose the team at USF Health to care for her during her pregnancy.

“I believed if anyone could save my pregnancy it would be physicians at a teaching hospital, because they try new things,” she said.

That is exactly what happened. Our physicians, Dr. Valerie Whiteman and Dr. Lennox Hoyte, along with the great team at Tampa General, our primary teaching hospital, used a novel surgical technique to help Coniglio carry her baby to term. You can read more about the procedure they used, Tampa General’s first robot-assisted trans-abdominal cervical cerclage, here.

Patient Cynthia Coniglio knew a teaching hospital could help provide the best treatment to help her high-risk pregnancy.

Coniglio’s story is a real-life example of what the Association of American Medical Colleges describes in its new infographic, making the case for why medical schools and teaching hospitals create the future of healthcare.

Coniglio’s story also shows how patients will benefit from our new partnership with Lakeland Regional Medical Center as we create the USF Health System. Elaine Thompson, PhD, Lakeland Regional’s visionary CEO, likes to point out that America’s best hospitals are teaching hospitals. So she wants Lakeland Regional – already an excellent medical center – to become a teaching hospital.

As Coniglio said, teaching hospitals offer the newest and most modern treatments. They participate in research, allowing patients to participate in clinical trials for new treatments.

Teaching hospitals also train young doctors, a key difference that benefits a community’s health in a variety of ways.  A faculty colleague describes the benefits to the patients like this: every time he talks with young physicians about a patient’s case, trying to help them learn, he’s also spending more time thinking about how best he can help that patient – and enlisting others to do the same. That collaborative approach helps teaching hospitals use teams to provide the best solutions for patients.

Teaching hospitals also improve the health of their communities. Lakeland will benefit from a stream of new doctors moving to the area to train at Lakeland Regional. Many will choose to settle there to start careers and raise families, both improving access to care and boosting the area’s economic health. Specialists also are more likely to locate at a teaching hospital, meaning that Lakeland area residents will be able to find more advanced types of care without having to leave home.

Ultimately, teaching hospitals create a healthier future.