The Importance of Collaboration and Partnerships
“The most important class you take is the one we (your professors) do not teach!” Imagine telling your students or sharing that information with parents during a preview day. At Winthrop, Mike Matthews and I both tell students that very line. It is because we truly believe the internship course is at the top of courses in student development. We recently saw this concept in action the first day of class in HCMT 493, the senior capstone class. At the Annual Meeting in Long Beach, we learned from larger AUPHA program that had students prepare a poster session describing her/his internship experience. We adopted this and invited internship preceptors, our advisory board, and our new Dean. Instead of each student presenting one at a time individually, the audience went from poster to poster meeting and speaking with the students. The event went much better than anticipated. Our Dean wrote in an email after the poster presentations “Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of attending the poster session put on by HCMT students who completed internships over the summer. I left extremely impressed with the poise and confidence of students, how professionally they presented themselves, the life-changing lessons they learned, the attendance and support of HCMT advisory board members, the passion of alumni (some from hours away) and, most importantly, how many students have a job or have a concrete plan to further their education before entering the field as professionals.” These results were directly attributable to the students’ internship. This is why we say the most important class students take is the one we do not teach. In no way do I want to minimize what Mike and I do in the classroom. In fact, over 80% students commented in their poster how applicable and important the lessons from the classroom were to their internship experience.
As we celebrated this student success, I realized the key for this success is collaboration. We work closely together as faculty members, bringing alumni and managers into the classroom, preparing students for the internship and the next level. Every year we have dedicated preceptors who mentor and help prepare students for life after graduation. We are a certified AUPHA program. That means peers have examined our program in detail and confirmed our strengths and offered strategies for improvement. Collaboration improves our program!
So what does all of the above mean for AUPHA? We as members of AUPHA, and AUPHA as an organization, need to continually build up new mutually beneficial partnerships and manage our existing collaborations. I will share an example from the program-level. The health care management program at Winthrop is currently the only AUPHA-certified undergraduate program in South Carolina. A CAHME-accredited master’s program has established an ongoing relationship with the program and actively recruits our talented seniors. This program said that because you are AUPHA certified, we have confidence in Winthrop’s health care management program graduates. I would encourage other AUPHA graduate programs to link with AUPHA affiliated undergraduate programs, especially those programs that are certified or seeking certification.
At the undergraduate level as part of the certification process (Criterion 17), a program must have established linkages with professional communities. AUPHA has established linkages with several professional communities such as Health Academic Press (HAP), Baxter International Foundation, and the David A. Winston Fellowship Program. Over the past year, the AUPHA Board has worked on strengthening the relationships with ACHE, CAHME, NCHL, and other professional organizations. The AUPHA Board continues to work on identifying and fostering mutually beneficial relationships with appropriate professional associations.
My wish is that some of the “silos” that have been built are opened and opportunities for collaboration and partnership increase. A personal example is all the different tools and techniques I have learned from learned colleagues at the AUPHA Annual Meeting, The Undergraduate Workshop, The Graduate Program and Practitioner Workshop, held in conjunction with the ACHE’s Congress, and the AUPHA Network.
In closing, I know my students have benefited from collaboration from alumni, preceptors, and the lessons I learned from talented colleagues at various AUPHA meetings. I encourage you to look for collaborative ways to help students prepare for the next level. I know I will be looking at the Undergraduate Workshop next month at University of Central Florida.