M.D. or no M.D.? — Clinic president trumpets liberal arts [not med school] as the future of medicine

Chris Behling, an Albion native, shed a new light on the old struggle between science and the humanities Tuesday. In his hour-long presentation given before administrators, faculty, staff and students, Behling’s thesis was that a liberal arts education is the silver bullet of modern medical science.

Behling, president of Mollen Immunization Clinics, claims that the future of healthcare resides outside of medical schools alone. According to Behling this future playing field has nothing to do with government regulations, but pure economics and common sense

“The focus is on primary care physicians,” Behling told the group.  This shift in focus simultaneously lowers overall healthcare costs and maximizes more “healthy years.”

But how does this link- up to liberal arts?

In his presentation, Behling showed that more intensive primary care requires more personnel with a wide range of skills. Behling listed statisticians and psychologists to better analyze lifestyle behavior and to provide patients with customized, at-home care.

“A student may be interested in medicine, but not in organic chemistry,” Behling said, and Albion needs to sponsor that kind of student. Albion has plenty of advising resources, but they need to be organized in a more cohesive and logical manner that connects the dots between disciplines,” said Behling.

“I do feel that his (Behling’s) ideas are a good model for Albion College and what we stand for as a liberal arts institute,” said Colleen Ouendag, Fennville senior.

Those in attendance included President Donna Randall, Vice President for Finance and Administration Mike Frandsen, Admissions Department staff, current director of the Health Institute Al Pheley, and students.

Behling said to the audience that in this shift in the medical field, Albion has the “first-mover advantage.” However, it remains to be seen if Behling’s predictions are even realizable dreams.

In response, Frandsen said, “Paradigm change is hard. Risk aversion is a part of the human condition…how do we push people to get ahead of this shift?”

“It’s about raising a student’s imagination ceiling,” Behling replied. Albion needs to encourage to see their potential outside of just going to medical school. This can be accomplished through partnerships in the medical field with doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, and technicians.

Behling understands the interdisciplinary connection better than anyone. He claims that his career in the medical field happened “by accident.”

Behling grew up in Albion and is the third generation in his family to attend Albion College. He was an economics and management and religious studies double major. Following his undergraduate study, Behling attended Harvard Divinity School. He got his foothold in the healthcare system by administering examinations for a life insurance company.

From that point, Behling became interested in patient care and the medical field. Behling became president of Mollen Immunization Clinics in 2011. Mollen provides flu shot and other services through Walgreens and other outlets and is seen as at the cutting edge of providing access to care.

Behling is currently one of three candidates seeking the position of director of Albion’s Health Institute.

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