It's a dream, 133 years in the making; the University of Texas opens the Dell Medical School. But it's not just an addition to the 40-acres. Our Victoria Maranan explores how the new school hopes to reconstruct health care in Central Texas.

AUSTIN, Texas -- It's a new day in Austin with the opening of the Dell Medical School.

But it's not just another building on the 40 acres -- it's a hub of new ideas.

Dr. Clay Johnston, Dell Medical School dean, says it's time to give health care an overhaul.

"We're not convinced that health care, the way it's delivered today, is as well aligned with society's interest in being healthy as it could be. So, we need to take this really fabulous opportunity to think about how health care should be different," said Johnston.

By different, Johnston wants his students to learn how to look at their patients as a whole -- to look at their lifestyle while using other resources to their care.

"Some of the things that physicians do today can be done by other types of practitioners -- nurses, social workers, pharmacists -- and many of those practitioners can actually do a better job because they're focused on drugs and its side effects, they're focused on how a family can help care for a patient. There are some things that physicians can do particularly well and they don't have time for it," said Johnston.

And students won't gain that skill buried in science books.

Courses that test their interpersonal skills are part of the school's curriculum -- something that has never been done before.

"You know, one of the things that we are really concentrating on is constantly reevaluating what we have done. Are our assumptions correct? Are we making the right moves? Are we getting the right outcomes that we think we want to get and what we think patients want and need? If we're not delivering on those…we need to change them," said Dr. Richard Freeman, Dell Medical School vice-dean of Clinical Affairs.

And with change comes great expectations -- both for students and our community's public health.

"They don't know what this medical school is, they don't know if they're going to graduate and get jobs afterwards. There's no track record.  But they're coming here for the same spirit, That is, we're doing something new, we want to be part of it, we want to make it happen," said Freeman.

Out of more than 4,500 applicants, only 50 students were admitted to the school this year.

Dell Medical's inaugural class carries a diverse set of degrees from biology to art.

All this week Time Warner Cable News will be examining how Dell Medical's partnership with tax-supported Central Health and the non-profit Seton promises to transform health care delivery in Central Texas. 


How do you think health care should be improved? Join the Discussion:

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