Published research around the United States indicates a gap in training and readiness of professionals in the emerging field of “telehealth,” or the distribution of health-related services and information via telecommunication. It allows long-distance patient and clinician contact, care, advice, reminders, education, intervention, monitoring, and remote admissions.
The University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and College of Nursing are collaborating on a graduate telehealth certificate program that will be one of the first interprofessional, academic-based certificate programs in the nation. It is designed to prepare a highly educated cohort with the tools and educational experience to further advance individual careers while also filling a void in American health care.
“If a person has gone through a training program and has that knowledge, now they are a little farther along the line of being able to be better prepared,” said Charles Doarn, research professor and a program director in the Department of Environmental and Public Health Sciences at the UC College of Medicine. Doarn co-founded the program with Debi Sampsel, director of telehealth for the College of Nursing.
“Part of the objective here is not to have people pigeonholed into one particular discipline, but be multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary across the whole UC campus to build the collaborative nature of what we are doing, which is why partnering with the College of Nursing is a really cool thing,” Doarn said.
The curriculum will consist of four, three-credit-hour online courses, beginning with the 2020 fall semester. The two courses to be led by Doarn in the College of Medicine are “Introduction to Telehealth” and “Business and Operational Considerations of Telehealth.” The two courses led by Sampsel in the College of Nursing are “Telehealth Innovation and Delivery Models” and “Clinical Application in Telehealth.” In addition, individual courses will be available for graduate students to take as electives. Each course is evidence-based and follows a natural progression.
“This certificate program is a cutting-edge endeavor for health care providers, multidisciplinary team members, and business associates seeking to expand their telehealth expertise and hands-on experiences,” Sampsel said. “The time is now to obtain the certificate as telehealth will continue to improve health care access, increase the reach to underserved areas, and advance the integration of technology into consumer choice health care delivery.”
The program is just one prime example of the university’s commitment to innovation, one of the pillars of UC’s strategic direction, Next Lives Here.
Doarn says the certificate program will teach and reinforce concepts of telehealth to a wide variety of individuals, including physicians, residents, nurses, allied health professionals, information technology specialists, administrators, and business associates on a wide range of topics. The certificate program will provide a solid foundation and will prepare participants for new challenges facing health care.
Admission criteria will include a baccalaureate from an accredited university or college with a graduating GPA of 3.0 or higher. One letter of recommendation from a previous teacher or a professional will be required, as well as a resume and a short goal statement.
“The university’s role, in my mind, is to educate the next generation of people, whether they’re chemists, poets, musicians, physicians, lawyers, pharmacists, whatever they might be,” Doarn said. “To be an integral part of the public health of the community, we want to integrate tools and technologies developed and taught online by recognized scholars and leaders in the field of telehealth.”