Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Friday, April 19, 2013

U-M to launch new master's degree in health professions education

A new master's degree program at the Medical School will help doctors, nurses and other health professionals learn how to educate future members of their professions, and address the worldwide shortage of many types of health care providers.

Approved Thursday by the Board of Regents, the unique program of individualized learning will admit its first 12 students for this fall, to work toward a master's degree in Health Professions Education or MHPE.

Physicians, nurses, dentists, pharmacists and clinical social workers who have responsibility for educating students and early-career trainees, or who seek to do so, will be able to enroll. The program will expand to 25 students by the third year.

Rather than classroom training, the program will focus on mentor-guided projects that enrollees will develop in their own current working environments over the course of two to three years. U-M faculty who specialize in health professions education will each mentor one to three students closely, ensuring a highly personalized experience.

The Medical School is one of only six institutions in the United States that has a department specifically dedicated to medical education. U-M is one of few universities with top-ranked schools in a broad range of health disciplines.

Through distance-learning technologies, students will be able to enroll from anywhere, including India, where U-M is working with the Maharashtra University of the Health Sciences in Nashik on a joint program to educate new health professions educators. Students also may come from as close as U-M itself, which has more than 2,800 faculty in its health professions schools on the Ann Arbor and Flint campuses.

Larry Gruppen, chair of the Department of Medical Education and the Josiah Macy, Jr. Professor of Medical Education, led the team that developed the new program and notes that many health professionals called upon to lead education and clinical training programs have no formal training in education methods.

"As the number of medical schools and other health professions training programs expands, we must ensure that education programs – and the health professionals they produce – meet the highest quality standards," Gruppen says. "Our program will emphasize the importance of developing educators who can lead the way in serving national and worldwide needs."

The new master's program will teach students to build and run "competency-based" programs that emphasize the skills a health provider needs, not just memorization of facts. Programs that train multiple types of health professionals to work with one another, just as they will in their careers, will receive special emphasis.

Students will be expected to publish the results of their work in peer-reviewed journals as part of the program, ensuring that their experience can be shared with other health professions educators.

The program still must be approved by the President's Council of the State Universities of Michigan.

More information about the program, including application requirements and tuition costs, will be online soon. In the interim, working health professionals may email to indicate interest.