Meet Dr. William Hueston, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Two years ago, William J. Hueston, MD, was a guest presenter at the Medical College of Wisconsin’s (MCW) national speaker series on community medical education, which invited experts to MCW from across the country to discuss their experiences with community campuses. Today, Dr. Hueston is Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Family and Community Medicine at MCW, following his appointment in November 2013.
William J. Hueston, MD
His initial visit to MCW left him impressed by leadership’s enthusiasm for and commitment to its community campuses. At the time, Dr. Hueston was serving as Chairman of Family and Community Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina. His later decision to pursue a senior leadership opportunity at MCW was influenced by MCW’s clear desire to move ahead as an institution.
“The investment of the faculty and the College in the new Discovery Curriculum and the educational facilities, along with providing medical school in new communities using an innovative approach, convinced me that this was an institution that was not content with maintaining the status quo but wanted to be on the leading edge,” Dr. Hueston said.
Leadership for the development and implementation of the community medical education program is now transitioning to Dr. Hueston, who brings his rich knowledge of best practices in community medical education to the effort.
“In the short term, we need to build campuses in Green Bay and Central Wisconsin that are true to the mission and objectives of MCW but deliver medical education in a new way that reflects the culture of the campuses and the needs of the communities,” he said.
Determining how to expose students to the same content at the same level of rigor as the Discovery Curriculum in Milwaukee while respecting individual campus needs is a key factor, as is allowing the campuses to experiment with novel educational methods, he said. The approach to integration of interprofessional education in the curriculum of the community campuses is a prime example.
“Long term, I want the two community campuses to be seen as vibrant educational sites where new approaches are encouraged, adopted, and then exported back to Milwaukee,” he said. “Four years or so from now, I’d like to have our curriculum people in Milwaukee looking up to the community campuses and thinking, ‘Wow, what they are doing up there is great. How can we do that down here?’”
A graduate of Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and a former faculty leader at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Dr. Hueston has remained a major advocate of community-based education throughout. He spent seven years in rural practice in Appalachia working with students and residents and then spent four years in Eau Claire, Wis., as residency program director in family medicine.
Rather than putting more seats in its lecture halls and simply admitting more students to address the physician shortage projected for the state, MCW has recognized that tactic does not meet the needs of all communities, Dr. Hueston said. Since physicians tend to stay where they train, educating more doctors in Milwaukee is unlikely to address the geographic disparity in physicians across Wisconsin.
“The approach MCW has taken to increasing the medical workforce is more creative than any other medical school,” he said. “MCW has elected to build these new campuses as a way of increasing our class size. Instead of getting more of what we already have, we want to produce more of what the state needs.”
A value inherent in community education, students are able to connect to other health care providers and patients in ways that are not possible in large academic medical centers, Dr. Hueston said. They see the people for whom they care in numerous settings and are able to work shoulder to shoulder with the most experienced physicians.
“Not only is the type of teaching that they get from experienced clinicians different, but they get to see how their mentors live and work,” he said. “I think this intimacy with their attending physicians and their work environment allows students to see how they can structure their future to be fulfilling as a professional and as a member of their community.”