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College of Nursing targets health care innovation


August 02, 2006

ASU's College of Nursing is introducing the nation's first dedicated master's degree program in health care innovation accessible anywhere in the United States, beginning in the upcoming fall semester, according to the college's dean, Bernadette Melnyk.

While innovation content and coursework are interspersed within many college programs, Melnyk says no program completely dedicated to health care innovation currently exists.

The program seeks to prepare innovative health care leaders to address changes and challenges of the health care system. Known by the acronym MHI, the program seeks to prepare its graduates for the positions of chief nursing executive, chief executive/vice president health care administrator, clinical/technology officer, department director and entrepreneurial career positions.

3 benefits to health care

MHI takes an entrepreneurial educational approach to develop health care leaders from multiple disciplines as innovators to transform the health care system to:

• Improve health outcomes and costs for patients and health care providers.

• Enhance the quality of health care services.

• Integrate members of the community into the health care system.

“As an industry, health care continues to change at an increasingly rapid pace, integrating complex technology, clinical devices, sophisticated database programs, genomic pharmacology and biotechnology,” Melnyk says. “Given these dynamics, health care leaders need skills in understanding, managing, creating and evaluating the continually present innovations necessary for progress.”

The unique MHI distance education initiative is led by the ASU College of Nursing, in collaboration with the ASU School of Health Management and Policy and the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication.

Student target audience

The student audience targeted for the new master's program includes current and aspiring health care leaders in traditional hospital facilities and other health care organizations, including long-term care, outpatient, clinic settings and support agencies. The College of Nursing hopes to attract students who have a risk-taking, entrepreneurial mindset and a commitment to improve health care.

The first cohort for MHI will be limited to 20 students to provide an extensive interaction and discussion environment and one-on-one attention.

The 33-credit-hour program includes nine courses that cover the principles, systems, technology integration, the role of the individual, evidence-based practice, financing, challenges of health policy and the management aspects of health care innovation.

Easy accessibility

The hybrid distance and immersion-learning format of the MHI program enables students from across the United States and around the world to have access to the program. MHI also offers three on-campus immersion sessions to provide personal interaction among students.

The final immersion session will include a community forum with health care leaders. The program can be completed in 18 months, or accelerated to 12 months if students attend summer session.

The MHI program offers students an educational experience not available in other graduate programs. Students will work with ASU Technopolis on a six-credit, directed study in which they explore a specific area of interest in a real world health care setting.

ASU Technopolis, a unit of the ASU Office of the Vice President of Research and Economic Affairs, helps to educate, coach and connect innovators and entrepreneurs through its mentoring program. Students will work with Technopolis instructors to obtain the knowledge to build their ventures into enterprises depending on their directed study subject choice.

Diverse faculty experience

Kathy Malloch is director of the MHI program and brings exceptional skills and 35 years of nursing expertise to the assignment.

Malloch is a nationally recognized expert in health care leadership and the development of effective evidence-based processes and systems for patient care.

“Health care faces challenges to patient care safety, medical errors, new technology, workload management and patient throughput,” Malloch says. “This health care leadership program puts economic value to health care work, instills an innovative spirit and takes health care to a higher level in a new-age marketplace of high knowledge.”

The MHI faculty also includes Tim Porter-O'Grady, who has been in health care for 36 years in roles from staff nurse to senior executive. He is the senior partner in an international health care consulting firm specializing in health futures, organizational innovation, conflict and change, and health service delivery models.

Porter-O'Grady has published extensively in the health care field, with 15 books to his credit. He has consulted internationally with more than 900 institutions and has lectured in nearly 2,000 settings worldwide.

“I am intrigued by the opportunity that the master's of health care innovation program represents,” Porter-O'Grady says. “Our traditional health care programs aren't working, and this innovative educational venture will help to provide a different generation of leaders.”

In addition to Malloch and Porter-O'Grady, Melnyk and Ellen Fineout-Overholt, two of the foremost national experts in evidence-based practice and its systemwide integration, also will serve as lead faculty for the evidence-based innovation course.

For more information on MHI, visit the College of Nursing Web page (http://nursing.asu.edu/programs/masters/mhi/index.htm) or contact Malloch via e-mail at (kathy.malloch@asu.edu).