Office of the President

Dr. Patrick T. Harker is the 26th president of the University of Delaware. He also serves as professor of business administration in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics and professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering.

Creating the 21st Century Healthcare Workforce
Dorrance H. Hamilton Building, Thomas Jefferson University
October 21, 2011

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I thank Dr. Barchi for his powerful leadership in preparing our healthcare system and healthcare workforce for the changes and challenges of the 21st century.

This is such a critical conversation, and it needs the voices and viewpoints of all of us here. So I thank you for joining us to begin defining what 21st century health delivery requires, the kind of care and coordination patients should expect and deserve, and how we can optimally meet their needs while strengthening a system whose vulnerabilities can’t be ignored.

This conference is part of the University of Delaware’s Knowledge-Based Partnership series, whose purpose is to bring to the table the academic, government, and business interests that have a role in tackling the urgent issues confronting our shared communities.

Because there’s no issue more urgent than the health and well-being of this region’s citizens, we’re thrilled that this conference links us with our health partners in Philadelphia. Ultimately, we hope to establish Health Innovation Zones that bring to bear our collective efforts and expertise in transforming how we think about our systems of health education and delivery, and how we define wellness for our people and our populations.

Partnership with Thomas Jefferson University
The University of Delaware is really proud to team with Jefferson on this conference—and on so much more. Thomas Jefferson University is UD’s vital health sciences partner. A few years ago, Delaware and Jefferson formalized our longstanding collaboration with the Partnership in Health Education, which gives students articulated health sciences training, preparing them for careers in health research and patient care.

We started with aligned paths for occupational therapy and pharmaceutical science, and a dual MD/MBA program. We’ll soon launch programs for physician assistants; programs in speech pathology and audiology; and several nurse specialist programs. And we have many more plans for expansion.

Delaware Health Sciences Alliance
On the heels of this collaboration came another: The Delaware Health Sciences Alliance joined us with our clinical partners—Christiana Care Health System and Nemours/A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children. Through this Alliance—predicated on strong teamwork and a deep commitment to innovation—we can revolutionize how we think about the provision of health care in this region, and our collective responsibility to do it better. The Alliance provides a platform for care models that embrace comprehensive treatment, and enables us to train a workforce empowered to deliver this integrated care model.

The Alliance’s power derives not just from the individual strengths of its partners, but from our willingness to join these strengths to meet the Delaware Valley’s most urgent needs: to enhance our biomedical research capacity and competitiveness; to improve healthcare access and delivery; and to educate the next generation of health professionals.

UD’s Unique Role in DHSA
We’re thrilled to be a part of the Alliance, and to bring the expansiveness of a full University to its work, including our biological and health sciences programs, our interdisciplinary center in bioinformatics and computational biology, and a new undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering, whose enrollment maxed out in only its second year.

But the University’s contributions go beyond these obvious intersections. Our programming in business and economics, in public policy, in the environment, in the arts and humanities—each brings a fresh perspective to our discussions, and gives us a more inclusive way of looking at health and wellness in America.

A New Healthcare Outlook
And I’m certain that “inclusive” is the way to go. Today’s healthcare landscape demands that medical personnel work more collaboratively in teams, drawing on doctors, physician assistants, advanced practice nurses, pharmacists, and others. And these teams simply won’t work well without inter-professional training—shared classes, internships, preceptorships, and other clinical rotations throughout their education.

We have to broaden our focus from diagnosing and treating disease, to promoting and maintaining wellness. We have to actively engage patients in their own care, and include them as vital members of the health and wellness team. In developing new programs and curricula, we have to better align professional competencies with the needs of individual patients and entire populations. We have to equip students not only with solid technical knowledge, but with the ability to apply that knowledge to ensure good outcomes at the individual and global levels.

These are changes that will affect providers and policymakers both, and we need to educate strong leaders if we want to sustainably improve the performance of our nation’s health system.

Regional Importance of Health Sciences
You can’t overstate the importance of this work—certainly not here. Greater Philadelphia is the nation’s second-largest center for life sciences activity. It’s the region’s #1 employer—accounting for one in six jobs—and absolutely critical to economic growth. This region is a healthcare mecca, with an incredible concentration of hospitals and health care systems, universities, labs and diagnostic companies, medical schools, nursing schools, pharmacy schools and pharmaceutical manufacturers, emerging and mature biotech firms. We award thousands of certificates and degrees each year in biological and biomedical sciences, and still more in pharmaceutical sciences. In many ways, the region’s populations are similar to the rest of the country’s—but, on the whole, they’re older, and they’re aging faster. They need us.

And so I mean it when I say that what we’re doing today matters. That we’re doing it here matters a great deal. The nation’s eyes are on us. And we can lead. We can transform health care education and delivery. We can shore up damaging gaps in care. We can show the country how coordinated services should be provided, and we can be the example of the efficacy of teamwork. We can reform a system that we know is deficient, and turn it into a system that serves—and serves well.

Introduction of David Nash
It’s now my honor to introduce David Nash, founding dean of the Jefferson School of Population Health, and the Dr. Raymond C. and Doris N. Grandon Professor of Health Policy. Dr. Nash is a board-certified internist who’s internationally recognized for his work in outcomes management, medical staff development, and quality-of-care improvement. 

Without question, Dr. Nash is one of this country’s most influential people when it comes to healthcare management and health policy, and we are all so very fortunate that he uses his considerable powers for good. Along with Kathy Matt, dean of UD’s College of Health Sciences and executive director of the Delaware Health Sciences Alliance, Dr. Nash and his staff took primary responsibility for today’s program development, support, and logistics.

And so it’s wholly fitting that Dr. Nash guide us through today’s agenda. Please help me welcome Dr. David Nash.

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