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Reshaping Health Education, Research, and Outreach at URI

Reshaping Health Education, Research, and Outreach at URI Context

Final Report of URI Committee Reshaping Health Education, Research, and Outreach at URI

With the passage of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the nation is undergoing the broadest health care overhaul since the 1965 creation of the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The industries, policies, and economics related to human health, in all forms and business structures, are under pressure to deliver improved outcomes and value and to focus on disease prevention as well as treatment. The goal is a greater emphasis on “health” and higher levels of safety and quality within a cost efficient, accessible, “patient focused,” and “accountable” health care system.

Our public learning-centered research university is committed to engaged learning, scholarly discovery, and civic involvement that enriches the lives of students and citizens of the State, nation and world. As the economy recovers from its downturn, careers in the health-related professions and allied fields are projected to be in high demand. Healthcare jobs are expected to grow faster than any other industry – roughly 22%, or 3.2 million new jobs, by 2018. It is time for us to examine whether our academic teaching, research, and outreach efforts are optimally coordinated for the future. Is health related activity at URI prepared for a 2020 vision of the world?

Higher education is changing to deliver value in a rapidly changing world. Technology has given rise to new competitors and pedagogies by enabling immediate and engaging information transfer and social connectivity. Connections between and among disciplines and professions have become essential areas for exploration, research, and learning. The value and cost of higher education is foremost in the minds of students and families. Currently, we offer valuable accredited and non accredited programs and conduct applied and basic research in a wide variety of important health professions and health-related areas of study that are spread across a number of colleges and departments. While “health” is a field of enormous societal recognition and opportunity and a true strength of URI, we have no academic entity (e.g., department, school, or college) that includes “health” in its name and thus have limited our visibility in this important area. More interdisciplinary health-related education, multidisciplinary approaches to securing external funding, synergistic outreach service delivery, and coordinated experiential learning programs are possible and likely beneficial. Health, defined broadly, is one of our largest faculty, staff, research, space and teaching demand areas within the Academic Division. Health is a key strength noted in the current Academic Plan and recent cluster hire initiative. This area also emerged at a recent Provost Deans retreat considering how academic affairs should prepare and reframe the university toward a 2020 vision of the world. The question we must address is how to best prepare our students for a changing world and reposition our assets to capitalize on interdisciplinary synergies that lead to world class quality in health related education, research, and outreach, and maximize the potential for innovation and the formation of partnerships that can create new opportunities for students and faculty.

As government and citizens demand value in health care delivery and greater sensitivity to human health overall, every business, institution, individual manager, or provider of care will need to oblige. These entities, in the evolving accountable care scenario, must align themselves to take responsibility for delivering improved economic, clinical, and humanistic (e.g. patient reported) health outcomes. Value will drive health decisions and care delivery in both private and public health arenas, just as it will in higher education for the foreseeable future. URI should consider adapting our processes and academic structures to do the same (i.e. let value drive health education, research and service efforts) in all programs. Although such change may prompt reactions about disturbing the status quo, a new equilibrium state could position URI as a leader in student-centered education, innovative research and scholarship, and patient centered, value driven health care. Graduates must be accountable and well versed in optimal health behaviors and current health care changes. This is critical as they take their place in the health industry and advance into leadership positions. The provision and assurance of excellence in health-related education, research, and outreach along with comprehensive understanding, of evidence-based care, health behavior modification, and administration of policy, business, and economics associated with disease prevention and health care should be a unified goal of our Health programs.

Draft Charge to a Committee on Reshaping Health Education, Research, and Outreach at URI

Given the confluence of national economic and policy changes and the current diffused distribution of health-related programs at URI, the committee will examine potential opportunities to align our human, physical and financial resources associated with “health” into a single sub-division, school, college or other entity. In so doing, the committee will carefully and objectively consider the potential advantages and disadvantages of creating a new comprehensive overarching academic structure for some or all health programs at URI and examine models in place at other peer institutions. The Committee will consider the following issues:

1) Potential new academic structures that could be created to unite some or all of the health- related fields at URI and more efficiently and effectively address current overlap, gaps, duplication, and new options for coordinated curriculum, collaborative research, and inter- professional care delivery;

2) Explore optimal proximity arrangements of health programs on campus and whether close physical proximity would have advantages;

3) Consider how innovative and interdisciplinary teaching and research opportunities and potential positive synergistic interactions among faculty could be advanced with an organizational alignment that consolidates health-related faculty expertise;

4) Determine how this realignment would affect other program, departments, and/or colleges and propose possible resolutions that might be explored to their benefit.

In conducting this work, the committee will seek constructive input and ideas from key interested stakeholders, including Deans, Department Chairs, faculty and students in health-related fields at URI. In addition, external stakeholders may also offer a useful perspective on the health related needs in education, research, and outreach of the future. It is estimated that the work of the group will take no longer than three months to complete.

The product of this effort will be a report that describes the opportunity to reorganize some or all of the health related programs at URI under a single structure and the implications, potentially positive and negative, of moving in that direction. Also, to the extent that specific preferred models emerge during the discussions and deliberations, these will be shared as well. The report will be shared with the Provost Office, Administrative and Management Review Committee, Faculty Senate Executive Committee, and the Council of Deans as well as with other interested parties on campus. Any proposed changes will be appropriately subjected to university shared governance review and approval processes.

Committee Members

Ruby Dholakia, Business Administration (Chair)
Deb Riebe, Kinesiology, HSS, Liaison to the Administrative and Management Review Committee
Linda Sebelia, Food Science and Nutrition, CELS
Kathleen Melanson, Food Science and Nutrition, CELS
Pat Burbank, Nursing
Diane Martins, Nursing
Peter Blanpied, Physical Therapy, HSS
Sue Adams, Human Development & Family Studies, HSS
Bryan Blissmer, Kinesiology, HSS
Leslie Mahler, Communicative Disorders, HSS
Celia MacDonnell, Pharmacy Practice, PHM
Bob Rodgers, Pharmaceutical Sciences, PHM
James Prochaska, Cancer Prevention Research Center and Psychology, A&S
Kathy Jervis, College of Business Administration
Paul Florin, Department of Psychology (not yet confirmed)

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