There are fewer than 120 academic medical centers in the United States, including Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Froedtert Hospital, eastern Wisconsin’s only academic medical center. What unique advantages do they offer patients? Cathy Buck, former president of Froedtert Hospital, and Jonathon Truwit, MD, former chief medical officer, offer some insights.
Q: What is an academic medical center?
Buck: An academic medical center is a partnership between a medical school, in our case, the Medical College of Wisconsin, and its affiliated teaching hospitals and clinics. It provides leading-edge specialty care, educates the next generation of health care professionals and performs research to find innovative cures for complex diseases.
Q: What is one advantage academic medical centers provide for patients?
Truwit: We offer primary and specialty care under one roof. Physicians, among the top in their specialties, collaborate as teams to provide the most advanced level of care. We all talk with each other and share our experiences, working together to create the best care plan for each patient, and we all have access to the same electronic medical records.
Buck: Patients get access to leading experts and subspecialists in many fields who use groundbreaking diagnostic and treatment options and advanced medical technologies that may not be offered elsewhere.
Q: Why are clinical trials so important?
Truwit: Academic medical centers provide greater access to clinical trials. Our PhDs and MDs collaborate on research, which brings what we learn to the bedside faster. It’s a mindset of learning, which is a significant advantage for our patients. Froedtert & MCW physicians have been part of many scientific discoveries of new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat disease.
Buck: Clinical trials, which can be accessed throughout our health network, provide patients with advanced treatments and technology, as well as lifesaving drugs and breakthrough techniques. For example, in 2017, the Froedtert & MCW Cancer Network became the only cancer program in the Midwest and one of just seven in the world to begin studying MR-guided radiation therapy with Elekta’s MR-linac system. As part of a worldwide consortium of leading cancer centers, our data is being analyzed to see how MR-linac may help improve outcomes for cancer patients through better tumor imaging and more accurate radiation therapy delivery. It could revolutionize cancer treatments.
Q: How is Froedtert Hospital different among academic medical centers?
Buck: We provide innovative and personalized patient care. One example is that we’re one of only a few centers nationwide that do outpatient bone marrow transplants. For patients, it’s like getting inpatient chemotherapy on an outpatient basis.
*Cathy Buck retired as president of Froedtert Hospital in 2020.
**Jonathon Truwit, MD, retired as chief medical officer in 2022.