ncu-fall-2017-cover-feature-school-of-health

New School of Health Sciences
Focuses on Interprofessional Education

Written by Judy Tierney

Imagine taking a close friend or family member to the emergency room. When you arrive, the hospital lacks sufficient staff to handle the number of patients being admitted. Doctors don’t have easy access to the patient’s medical history, allergies or current prescriptions, and the medical devices needed for a life-saving surgery are not readily available. You call the insurance company to try to determine coverage only to be met with more frustration.

Dr. Laurie Shanderson Dr. Laurie Shanderson

In today’s healthcare environment, ensuring that patients receive the highest standard of care depends upon a network of practitioners, administrators and technologies all working together to communicate and evaluate information needed to make critical decisions. One misstep in the process can be devastating, resulting in damage to a hospital’s reputation, medical errors or in the worst circumstances, loss of life.

“Healthcare professionals cannot work in silos, as communication and collaboration are needed to attain the best health outcomes,” explains Dr. Laurie Shanderson, Founding Dean of NCU’s new School of Health Sciences, which is scheduled to launch in early 2018. “Individuals accessing the health system require an approach that considers coordination of all of the services they will need, and success is achieved only when all roles and functions of the care team are defined.”

The School of Health Sciences is fundamentally built on the notion of Interprofessional Education (IPE) and how collaborative practice occurs in healthcare settings across multiple disciplines. With four initial program offerings – Master of Health Administration (MHA), Doctor of Health Administration (DHA), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) – the School’s curriculum will train students to work in cross-functional teams to create more efficient healthcare systems and ultimately improve outcomes for patients.

“Healthcare professionals cannot work in silos, as communication and collaboration are needed to attain the best health outcomes.”

Dr. Laurie Shanderson, Dean of NCU’s new School of Health Sciences

Shanderson explains that the School’s focus on IPE emphasizes working with teams to gain the skills, competencies and abilities students need to be viable contributors in their own field upon graduation. One of the featured resources of the School will be the NCU School of Health Sciences IPE Institute, a state-of-the-art, virtual meeting space where students, faculty and visitors from throughout the global healthcare community can come together to exchange ideas, solve challenges and establish best practices. The Institute will also serve as a repository for resources for research and IPE activities.

Shanderson shared her vision of how the IPE can help connect her students with students in other NCU Schools. “Mental health professionals and social workers are integral to patient care, so we have an exciting opportunity to collaborate on projects and activities with students from the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences,” explains Shanderson. “We can also collaborate with the School of Technology as we think about health informatics and the role data plays in clinical and financial decision-making.”

Participation from other institutions with disciplines not represented at NCU will be another way to create opportunities for interdisciplinary exposure. The use of the latest technologies and best practices, including case studies and gamification, will also enhance the experience for visitors to the School of Health Sciences IPE Institute.

Shanderson says the opportunities for collaboration through IPE activities are limitless, even in a class size of one. While students go through their curriculum interdependently, they will ultimately come together through case studies, applying what they have learned and observing how their role fits into a variety of healthcare scenarios.

As the School of Health Sciences nears accreditation, Shanderson and her internal and external teams continue to build programs that will engage students while preparing them to be successful. A Professional Advisory Committee (PAC) provides insights relative to the current status of the healthcare industry. From an internal perspective, Shanderson credits NCU’s senior leadership with the foresight and desire to enhance the University’s offerings via the development of the new School and for recognizing the role it plays in the future of our society.

“Mental health professionals and social workers are integral to patient care, so we have an exciting opportunity to collaborate on projects and activities with students from the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences.”

Dr. Laurie Shanderson

“Every aspect of healthcare touches upon what we do in the School of Health Sciences,” says Shanderson. “We’ve been very strategic and deliberate about how we’re going to execute these programs and prepare our students with a rigorous and academically competitive education.”

In an industry that is changing every day, Shanderson sees a future where healthcare professionals will coordinate care to treat their patients holistically. “We are building the values and ethics of IPE into every discipline in the School of Health Sciences,” she says. “That’s why it’s such an exciting time to be at NCU, where we have a unique opportunity to develop the leaders that will shape this dynamic and ever-evolving field.”