About this event

  • Date and time Tue 26 Nov 2019 from 6:00pm to 7:30pm
  • Location Royal Society of Medicine
  • Organised by Public Engagement Programme

Join us for this free evening event where Dr. Victor Dzau, President of the National Academy of Medicine will discuss Challenges faced by physicians relating to burnout, new technologies, societal issues and social conscience.


Today, the global health and biomedical science landscape is undergoing significant changes and challenges. Health care systems globally are seeing increasing demands in quantity and quality of care while resources are becoming more constrained. Health care spending especially in US has been growing and is unstainable. Health care is fragmented and poorly coordinated between general practitioners and specialists, community practices and specialty hospitals. And health disparities remain a substantial challenge everywhere. Indeed, the NHS has experienced a significant slowdown in funding growth, while demand for care has increased and health care costs have risen. Patients face often face increasingly long wait times before they can access care. In many countries including the UK, these challenges are compounded by impending demographic changes – the growth of the elderly population, which will increase the pressure on health systems and societies throughout the globe. This increase in life expectancy means that more people are living with a growing number of long-term chronic conditions – such as diabetes, heart disease and dementia.

Taken together, these trends create a very challenging environment for clinicians. They face a significant increase in workload demands, managing patients with complex co-morbid conditions, working in inefficient and fragmented health systems. Increasingly, they are spending more of their time complying with administrative tasks, and electronic health records with less face to face time with patients. Studies in the US indicate that primary care physicians spend nearly 2 hours on EHR tasks per hour of direct patient care. There is an increased requirement of performance measurement and reporting by clinicians. Other factors affect clinician well-being including organizational factors, the learning and practice environment. Clinicians are experiencing challenges in work-life balances. As a result, clinicians are increasingly burned out in both the US and the UK. More than half of US physicians are experiencing substantial symptoms of burnout. In the UK, tough working conditions are contributing to a shortage of providers and the rise of burnout among physicians.

At the same time, advances in biomedical science and technology such as genome editing, precision medicine, stem cell therapies, immunotherapies hold the promise of transforming healthcare but also raise questions for society. In addition, clinicians have to deal with massive data, their interpretation and clinical decision making. An important future area is Artificial Intelligence. Will AI complicate or simplify clinicians’ work? AI and other technologies may impact significantly certain medical specialties. Clinicians will have to acquire new medical information at an unprecedented speed, learn to practice new medicine and technologies, address the challenging issues of access, affordability and equity for their patients, and make difficult decisions related to ethics, social norms and individual patient preferences.

Indeed, health systems are at a critical juncture and clinicians face significant future challenges. The US National Academy of Medicine is actively addressing many of these issues by undertaking major initiatives such as Vital Directions in Health, Collaborative on Clinician well-being and resilience, and the Committee on Emerging Science, Technology and Innovation. Professor Dzau will discuss the NAM work and provide a framework to examine current trends in health, medicine, and biomedical science; analyze opportunities for progress and potential policy solutions and discuss the need for modernization of medical education, changes in health systems and governance of emerging science and technology for the future.

Key speakers

Dr Victor Dzau

Dr Victor Dzau, President, National Academy of Medicine

Dr. Victor Dzau is the president of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), formerly the Institute of Medicine (IOM). In addition, he serves as vice chair of the National Research Council. Dr Dzau is chancellor emeritus and James B. Duke Professor of Medicine at Duke University and the past president and CEO of the Duke University Health System. Previously, Dr Dzau was the Hershey Professor of Theory and Practice of Medicine and chairman of Medicine at Harvard Medical School’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, as well as chairman of the Department of Medicine at Stanford University.

He is an internationally acclaimed leader and scientist whose work has improved health care in the United States and globally. His seminal work in cardiovascular medicine and genetics laid the foundation for the development of the class of lifesaving drugs known as ACE inhibitors, used globally to treat hypertension and heart failure. Dr Dzau pioneered gene therapy for vascular disease and was the first to introduce DNA decoy molecules to block transcriptions in humans in vivo. His pioneering research in cardiac regeneration led to the Paracrine Hypothesis of stem cell action and his recent strategy of direct cardiac reprogramming using microRNA. He maintains an active NIH-funded research laboratory.


View the programme

Welcome address

Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, Past-President, Royal Society of Medicine

2019 Christmas lecture

Dr Victor Dzau, President, National Academy of Medicine

Discussion time
Vote of thanks

Sir Jeremy Farrar, Director, Wellcome Trust

Close of lecture


Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole St, Marylebone, London, W1G 0AE, United Kingdom