Academic medical centers are those universities that teach medical students, and include an affiliated hospital, called a teaching hospital providing hands-on experience to further those students' educations. These institutions may call themselves academic medical centers, university health systems or any combination of those words. Because they most often have the word "university" in the name of the hospital, it is usually easy to pick out which hospitals are teaching hospitals. There will be a University of ____ (fill in the name of the university, state or city) hospital or it will just be called "University Hospital." There were 136 accredited academic medical schools in the United States and 17 in Canada, representing 400 teaching hospitals and health systems, and 62 VA (Veterans Affairs) hospitals according to the American Association of Medical colleges as early of early 2012. There are certain patient profiles who might benefit by choosing doctors who are affiliated with these academic medical centers and teaching hospitals, as follows while anyone can be admitted and treated at an academic medical or teaching hospital. You may find yourself welcome at university-affiliated hospitals in case you use Medicaid or a combination of Medicaid and Medicare.

Choosing the right thing for your care

These hospitals are often located in urban areas. They are considered to be "safety net" hospitals but have health coverage from a government program. (Note - that does not mean university hospitals don't accept other patients - they do) although will admit patients who cannot afford private insurance. You may find extended help in an academic medical setting because the doctors affiliated with university hospitals are often those who are also interested or involved in research in case you are an unusual diagnosis or a rare disease and therefore may enjoy going beyond the day-to-day of non-academic medicine. There are student doctors in teaching hospitals who are learning everything they can about medicine, further, and sometimes unusual diagnoses are of a great deal of interest to them. Their university affiliation may also mean they must meet requirements to publish papers, journal articles or books, and unusual diagnoses may provide good topics for publication. You may also find extended help from doctors and students who work in academic medical systems, for the same reasons as those who have unusual diagnoses and rare diseases might in case you cannot get a diagnosis. Children who have difficult childhood diseases may find the help they need from teaching hospitals which often have a children's hospital affiliated with them, too. Patients who live in rural regions may find that their smaller, local hospitals are affiliated with the larger, regional, academic system. This extended help will sometimes be managed through telemedicine. A patient who suffers a stroke, for example, may be taken by ambulance to a small community hospital, but her treatment may be overseen by a neurologist at an academic medical center in a larger city in the region. That’s why you need to be careful when choosing the right thing for your care.