Making Life Better by Donna Petersen, ScD, MHS, CPH

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At USF Health, looking toward the future of learning

As an academic institution preparing future health professionals, we spend a lot of time thinking about learning, teaching, technology that enhances intellectual growth and opportunities for creative growth and expression.

We also think about the future – the future of health, of health care, and of what it means to be a professional. We are facing a wave of unprecedented change, both for health and for education.  So we take these responsibilities seriously not only on behalf of our students, who entrust their professional development to us, but on behalf of the patients, communities, colleagues and institutions they will serve.

At USF Health, we’re exploring new ideas and new ways to engage our students and faculty as active learners in their own professional growth. We’re on the front lines of online learning, offering a record number of online public health programs. We’re also the nation’s first medical school to offer an online master’s degree in health informatics.

Just yesterday a group of us met to discuss the idea of a single portal for professional development for our faculty and staff – a user-friendly website where all training opportunities relevant to USF Health can be catalogued, easily browsed, registered for, evaluated and tracked.  Even better, the site could have a crowd feature where our USF Health community could express topics of interest, generating new opportunities for continuing professional growth.

In other discussions, we’ve considered better ways to share our common learning experiences across all the health disciplines, with the most diverse audience of students possible. Professionalism and ethics; communication; leadership; basic sciences; even fundamental research methods are all shared concepts, competencies and values across health.  In the coming weeks we will convene conversations around how we grow as a learning community, how we continue to seek the best means of educating our students and how we together, as USF Health, make life better for the communities we care for and about.

Because in the end it is all about the community, we are also exploring development of a MOOC – a massive open on-line course– around what USF Health means.  We would develop and deliver it collectively and make it available to anyone interested in learning more about us and about the future of health.

We are on an active forward journey as a learning community and I remain encouraged by the great ideas I hear every day.  Keep them coming!