Harnessing Change: Healthcare Higher Education

Mar 15, 2022 at 02:45 pm by steve

By Courtney N. Haun, PhD, MPH 

“The Only Constant in Life Is Change.”- Heraclitus

As a healthcare administration professor with the recent global healthcare-related events in mind, I often think about the future of our healthcare industry.

What will the landscape of healthcare look like for our students?

Will they be armed and prepared with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the ever-changing dynamics?

Searching for the answer to these questions, the importance of higher education has become more evident, especially in healthcare.

The quote provided above gets at the heart of this post. Change is going to occur, not only in healthcare but also in the collegiate setting. During the pandemic, education systems faced the obstacle of continuing to deliver high-quality courses and ensuring program sustainability. This was also an opportunity to learn what was working well and what can be improved. It was clear that taking a collaborative, interprofessional approach is a good way to weather the storm of change in higher education.

The primary challenge was swiftly shifting from face-to-face to online course instruction. However, a lingering hurdle was the impact on student engagement and learning outcome progression. It is our responsibility to ensure that our students will be prepared to enter the healthcare workforce. By utilizing technology, this became on opportunity to grow relationships with students and faculty in new, innovative ways.

As we were evolving our methods of teaching our students, the healthcare landscape was also innovating. Many health facilities began to offer services online via telehealth modalities. As the need for more healthcare professionals continued to rise with the uptick in Covid-19 cases, technology became a tool to reach more individuals in need of health services. While progressing and learning from the response to Covid-19, it has shown how changes in healthcare delivery require pivots in academia to educate students regarding these changes.

The pandemic also prompted an increase in awareness of health-related educational programs. If you have heard of the Fauci effect[1], then you are aware of the tremendous growth in medical school applications across the country. Public health programs seem to be having the same surge of applicants, as well[2]. There is a huge interest in public health due to the pandemic, and now is an opportunity to prepare students who are interested in the field. We hope that the increase in student interest will lead to a larger wave of public health professionals in the future. Moving forward, it is clear that harnessing change in healthcare higher education is a necessity to prepare our healthcare leaders of tomorrow. Here in Samford University’s School of Public Health[3], we are doing that through our four departments (Healthcare Administration and Informatics, Nutrition and Dietetics, Public Health, and Social Work). Education plays a pivotal role in our healthcare system and the ways that future leaders in the industry might respond to the inevitable changes that are bound to occur.  

Courtney N. Haun, PhD, MPH is the Assistant Professor & Director of the Healthcare Administration Undergraduate Program in the Department of Healthcare Administration & Informatics at Samford University.



[1] https://www.npr.org/2020/12/07/942170588/fauci-effect-drives-record-number-of-medical-school-applications

[2] https://khn.org/news/public-health-degree-programs-see-surge-in-students-amid-pandemic/#:~:text=Public%20health%20programs%20in%20the,killing%20more%20than%20246%2C000%20people.&text=Applications%20to%20Brown%20University's%20small,and%20director%20of%20the%20program

[3] https://www.samford.edu/publichealth/

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