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UNC School of Medicine Dean Bill Roper stresses medical policy

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Dean Roper, on Tuesday at the Graham Memorial, dispels myths about the American health care system, speculates on the future of medicine, and answers whatever questions students have on the subject.

Freshmen interested in medicine were challenged Tuesday night to learn more about the American health care system and work for change in the future.

Dr. Bill Roper, dean of the School of Medicine and CEO of the UNC Health Care system, presented “The Future of Medicine” as part of the First Year Fellows lecture series.

Roper emphasized the need for medical students to understand government policy in order to excel in the field of medicine.

“I hope that those of you interested in medicine are not perturbed (by these issues),” Roper said.

“Rather, I hope you see this as an opportunity to pursue medicine and get involved in these wider issues of national and public policy that are so important.”

Roper said a false perception about American health care is that people eventually get all of the care they need.

He said individuals without health insurance are slower in seeking care and are ultimately worse off when they receive treatment.

Given these problems, Roper said that it is the substantial changes — the way the system is organized, doctors are paid and services are rendered — that need to be focused on.

“We are not going to have sweeping change in health care,” he said.

“Rather, we are going to have incremental changes year after year that I hope will take us in the right direction in order to fix the problems I am trying to highlight.”

Freshman Taylor Capito, who said she wants to be a biology major, said she agreed with Roper.

“Even though I see that our health care system has negatives, if we were to change everything at once, it would not benefit the system,” she said.

Roper said another false assertion that is commonly accepted is that America has the world’s best health care, and all physicians provide optimal care.

While some individuals do receive high-quality medical care, the U.S. health care system is only ranked 37th in the world, he said.

Roper said even the UNC Health Care system has room to improve.

“We don’t do nearly as well as we know we should be doing in giving every person the best care possible,” he said.

Freshman Nainisha Chintalapudi, a health policy management major, said she enjoyed Roper’s speech.

“I think that a lot of things are bound to change in the next couple of years,” she said.

“It is ultimately the upcoming generation who will have a voice in how the health care system is run.”

Contact the desk editor at

university@dailytarheel.com.

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