URI President David M. Dooley: “The Academic Health Collaborative is a key component of our strategy to stimulate interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary research, teaching and service,” Dooley said. “It builds on strengths that have already provided substantial benefits to our students and faculty and to our communities here in the state and around the nation. This collaborative will enable the University of Rhode Island to do even more with the talent at the University. The primary beneficiary of this work will, of course, be everyone who needs health care. We want to keep our eye on the ultimate goal of improving the diagnosis and delivery of new therapeutic and diagnostic approaches, as well as new treatments and cures.”
Here are two important examples of the high-impact multidisciplinary research and education carried out with leadership from the University of Rhode Island. Rhode Island’s $61 million biomedical science research network, funded by the National Institutes of Health and based in our College of Pharmacy, has brought together virtually every Rhode Island university and college to build research capacity in the areas of cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, drug interactions, infectious diseases and many more. The Rhode Island Geriatric Center, based here at URI, has for several decades been a leader in linking physicians, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, researchers and other health professionals, as well as diverse health agencies, to improve health outcomes for our older residents.
Magali Angeloni, Rhode Island Department of Health Academic Center, director: “Congratulations to the University of Rhode Island on this exciting initiative. The Department of Health’s Academic Center is formalizing partnerships with local colleges and universities to join academia and public health practice to improve the health of populations through education and research. And as a state agency, we are excited to be working with our state University to broaden our approach to health. In the near future, we can see innovative and stronger collaborations between the Department of Health and URI, including its students and faculty, as well as our staff. Our mission is to promote and protect the health of every Rhode Island resident, and our priorities include eliminating health disparities and addressing the social determinants of health. With URI’s new collaborative, we will see stronger focus on population health in Rhode Island, and look forward to working with URI and its collaborations with other schools and agencies to join us in contributing to this critical area.”
Donald H. DeHayes, URI provost and vice president for Academic Affairs: “Society is moving in new directions relating to health and health care and is recognizing the primary social drivers of population health outcomes and the need for improved and more integrated health care systems. The Academic Health Collaborative at URI is at the forefront of responding to these new and important trends and needs, as well as contributing to the broad arena of health reform and population health in America. The Academic Health Collaborative and new Institute for Integrated Health and Innovation will provide new and novel interdisciplinary approaches to health-related education, research and outreach that will benefit patients, students, faculty and health care providers across the nation. This initiative will enhance and expand our collaborations with health agencies, hospitals and clinics, as well as research groups and universities to improve health outcomes here in Rhode Island and around the world. We are already leaders in interprofessional education, including nursing, pharmacy, gerontology, nutrition and physical therapy. This is a unique model that serves our students well, and will only become stronger as we incorporate expertise from our business, environmental, engineering and arts and sciences colleges.”
E. Paul Larrat, dean of URI’s College of Pharmacy and first coordinating dean of the executive committee of the Health Collaborative: “We have already met many of our goals set for the first year of the collaborative, including establishing a brand new College of Health Sciences. We are launching the Institute for Integrated Health and Innovation, which will spark collaborative work in interdisciplinary health education, research and service, and a shared services office designed to improve efficiencies in finance, information technology, continuing professional education, accreditation and assessment and development. We have also begun creation of a multidisciplinary master’s degree program in health.”
Deborah Riebe, URI professor and chair of the Department of Kinesiology: Deborah Riebe, professor and chair of the Department of Kinesiology:“One of the most exciting aspects of the collaborative is its emphasis on the health promotion. So, when we talk about health here at URI, we are not just talking about what happens when an individual gets sick, but how we can help that person stay healthy. This initiative, which includes our exciting new College of Health Sciences, will allow our faculty members with expertise in exercise science, diet and nutrition, psychology and human development to conduct research and outreach programs with our pharmacy and nursing programs to help people eat better, exercise more and take care of their emotional and social health. When care is coordinated and addresses the entire individual, people are healthier, they avoid trips to the doctor and hospital, have a better quality of live, and in the end the entire health system becomes more efficient.”
Lauren Mancini, URI senior nursing student: “Over the past four years I have benefited from an education that is innovative, collaborative and inspiring thanks to my wonderful professors in the College of Nursing. As I progressed through my career here at URI, they have emphasized that great health care is a team activity. This is something I have experienced firsthand through building personal and professional relationships with students in the College of Pharmacy and Human Science and Services. We all learn about similar topics but have each taken away different knowledge from our majors, while still collaborating for the benefit of the patient. This spring I will travel to Brown University as the Colleges of Nursing and Pharmacy come together with the Brown Alpert Medical School for an interprofessional education experience.
As a nursing student I have completed practicums in advanced medical-surgical nursing, nursing of children, nursing care of vulnerable populations, psychiatric mental health nursing and child and reproductive health. In each one of these specialties, success boils down to teamwork with patients, doctors, nurses, family members, teachers, social workers, pharmacists and so many other groups. I have been able to see these specialties work together through the many opportunities I have had at Rhode Island and Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Memorial Hospital, Matunuck Elementary School and countless other places in the community. One particular instance when I was able to experience the importance of communication was during a FAST Team Response at Hasbro. When a patient is critical, a FAST Team page is sent out and within fifteen minutes a member of each health care team convenes to assess and decide the next best step for the patient. That is why this collaboration is so exciting, what better way to be prepared for the real scenarios we will face as professionals than to learn these vital skills as students? The Academic Health Collaborative’s focus is on teamwork to achieve overall health for the patient in all aspects of their life. Soon, I will be a URI graduate, and when I am working as a nurse I hope to be lucky enough to see firsthand the positive impact this new collaborative will have on the entire area of health and wellness.”
James O. Prochaska, URI professor of clinical and health psychology, director of the URI Cancer Prevention Research Center and developer of the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change, which is used worldwide to help people change their behavior to quit smoking, eat better, and exercise more to prevent cancer and other deadly diseases: “After 46 years at the University of Rhode Island, we are welcoming the biggest transformation in higher education related to the biggest transformation in health care. It’s terrific for higher education. It’s terrific for our students because it eliminates the silos in health care. Today, health care has to have integrative solutions that deal with the whole person, not just with one organization or one person.”
Phillip Clark, URI professor of human development and family studies, director of the Program in Gerontology and director of the Rhode Island Geriatric Education Center: “As the lead academic institution for our state, URI has just received a $2.5 million federal geriatrics education grant that embodies the vision the University has for this new collaborative. It emphasizes interprofessional education for health professions students and providers across the state. It’s an exciting opportunity to show why interprofessional education and practice are so important, particularly when caring for special populations like older adults who often have complex medical conditions. This collaborative is really saying that the University has a vision for the future and that we have an opportunity to demonstrate leadership in providing an interprofessional educational for our students and for providers in the community.”