Preparing for the Future of Health Care

Not only does Armstrong's health professions program make an impact in the area, but its reach extends far beyond Savannah, overseas, and online to position its graduates as leaders and anticipate the fluctuating needs of an evolving field.

Armstrong's College of Health Professions is producing a wide range of professionals, from administration to nursing, vascular specialists, public health professionals, doctors of physical therapy, speech therapists, medical technology consultants, and more. At the core of the school's well-rounded offerings is a dedication to community, to the profession, and to the creation of a solid healthcare future.

“The faculty of the College of Health Professions doesn't just stay current,” said College of Health Professions Dean David Ward, “but have been actively involved in advancing evidence-based care in a variety of healthcare professions. The programs in the College of Health Professions have done an outstanding job of bringing these advances directly into the classroom, so that tomorrow's practitioners are well prepared for the many changes taking place in the healthcare system.”

Interprofessional Education

The field of health care is at a critical point. As nearly 78 million baby boomers are crossing the 65-year-old threshold, the medical community needs to be prepared. As a result, some practices are changing. A major focus is on interprofessional practice, as team-based care is gaining ground and moving away from an approach of going separately from specialist to specialist.

Armstrong's health professions faculty recognize this shift and are preparing their students for it. One major way is through a customized interprofessional team education (IPE) project, now in its third year of implementation. The IPE has already involved over 300 students and many faculty members, from nursing, health services administration, radiologic sciences, and physical therapy, to name a few. In the program, a course of online study and discussion culminates in an on-site mock evaluation of a patient, and interprofessional teams get together to create a plan of care for their patient. The result is a real-time simulation of what they will experience professionally, all learning from each other and helping determine the care that will be best for the patient.

Lasting Partnerships

Many of Armstrong's health professions programs are born from the collaborative relationships the university has with area healthcare providers. Armstrong faculty serve on various boards and can survey hospital administrators to see what needs are on the horizon that graduates must be able to meet. Armstrong's cardiovascular/interventional science (CIS) program is a perfect example and is one of just a handful of institutions that offer the undergraduate CIS tracks—fewer than ten exist nationwide.

“Programs are just now starting to say, ‘wow, we should probably add this to our complement of what we are teaching,'” explained program coordinator and former CIS practitioner Esma Campbell. “We felt like we had to do it from the beginning. This is one of those programs for which the job projections for the future are very good. Our graduates get jobs, typically where they want jobs.”

Expanding Healthcare Education Beyond Borders: Armstrong Partners with Sweden's eHealth Institute

Clinical informatics is a growing field that prepares health professionals in the development and implementation of technology solutions that improve the healthcare practice. New regulations are being established and put into effect that require a much larger, more coordinated technology effort within hospitals and clinics. Beginning in summer 2013, students in Armstrong's College of Health Professions will be able to work towards a clinical informatics credential and share global resources in the process. Armstrong's certificate in clinical informatics will be offered fully online, as most individuals who need the certificate are also working professionals.

“When we got word out to the community, to our hospitals, about starting the program, we got a very positive response,” said Sandy Streater, department head for health sciences. “Hospitals have to have this person to meet new regulations.”

Not only will online students be able to complete the certificate online, they will also be able to participate in the clinical and medical informatics field on a global scale. As part of its agreement with Linneaus University in Sweden, Armstrong is also working with the eHealth Institute in Kalmar, Sweden, operated by Linneaus, to share resources between both schools' fully online clinical and medical informatics programs.

To read this story in its entirety, download the Fall 2012 Armstrong magazine.