Education - Page 1 - Brave new world

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Brave new world
New curriculums and technical advances reshape health care

By Nancy Menefee Jackson,
Contributing Writer

As health care advances rapidly, so, too, must the programs that prepare the next generation of clinicians, researchers, public health workers and bioengineers. From soft skills like working in interdisciplinary teams to hard skills like using 3D printers, area programs deliver what students will need.

Johns Hopkins School of Nursing

With the increasing complexities of health care, related occupations have moved toward doctoral degrees. Nurses can obtain a Ph.D. or a D.N.P. (Doctor of Nursing Practice), but for the first time nationwide within the same school, the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing is offering a combined D.N.P./Ph.D. program.

Jason Farley, Ph.D., M.P.H., ANP-BC, FAAN, directs the doctoral programs and is an associate professor at Hopkins. He explains that the five-year D.N.P. advance practice/Ph.D. dual degree program introduces well-trained clinicians to the scientific rigor involved in research so that there is a seamless transition for nurses well versed in practice to conduct research.

“When we think about doctoral education, the U.S. has an amazing shortage of doctoral prepared faculty,” he says, noting that the nursing field is seeing more D.N.P.’s than Ph.D.’s. “What that means is that we have great clinicians who can teach the next generation of clinicians but not the next generation of researchers. This hybrid approach allows the best of both worlds.”

Known as the Clinical Research Intervention Scientists Program (CRIS), the dual degree program receives funding from the Health Services Cost Review Commission Nurse Support Program within the Maryland Higher Education Commission. Students in the program (see sidebar), who earn both terminal degrees, can receive tuition support for the first three years as well as an NIH-approved stipend.A second group is now starting the program, which can accommodate at least five students.

The curriculum streamlined duplicative coursework within the two degrees. The Ph.D. program already assigned students to an advisor mentor; the new combined program adds a doctoral-prepared nurse who is a clinical expert in subject matter.

The goal is to produce students who can conduct clinical research, teach, mentor and implement innovations to enhance patient outcomes.

Students begin with two years of coursework, but when they do data collection in the next three  ears, they will do so in the same area in which they’re providing clinical care.

“The bi-directionality between practice and research is exactly where this degree fits best,” Farley says. “When students design interventions or design research, it’s an optimized standard of care ... You compare what you’re designing to what’s best, and see if it’s additive.”

The dual degree, he notes, addresses a longstanding dilemma in nursing: “The further you are in your academic career, the less likely you are to be treating patients, but at the bedside, it’s harder to keep up with the latest innovations.”

University of Maryland Fischell Department of Bioengineering

An innovative program at the University of Maryland gives students from other schools a chance to experience the bioengineering research involving cells, tissues and organs that is conducted at the state’s flagship university.

Supported by the National Science Foundation, the summer program Bioengineering Research Experience for Undergraduates brings in 10 students from smaller schools and community colleges that may not have such laboratory capabilities. The program provides housing and a stipend. Students are matched with a faculty mentor and a mentor at the FDA and dive in for 10 weeks of research.

Health care continued on page 8