Monday, October 06, 2008

NATIONAL: School Seeks To Connect Health Policy With Care

(previously published here at

After a spiritual retreat to Rome in which he met with Vatican leaders in healthcare from around the world, David B. Nash, M.D., M.B.A. returned to Philadelphia, and to Thomas Jefferson University, where he has been named inaugural dean of a new graduate school of health policy.

The establishment of the Jefferson School of Health Policy and Population Health (JSHPPH) was announced last week by University President Robert L. Barchi, M.D., Ph.D., who described it as building on Jefferson's expertise in health-care quality improvement and chronic care management and providing "a venue for this expertise that is recognized nationally and internationally."

The school, which will be housed in existing facilities, is an expansion of the Jefferson Medical College's Department of Health Policy (DHP). It will feature an interdisciplinary curriculum where medical, nursing and allied health students, as well as recent undergraduates and mid-career professionals, take classes together, both online and in traditional classrooms.

According to Dr. Nash, currently the Dr. Raymond C. and Doris N. Grandon Professor of Health Policy and chair of the DHP, this school was months in the making and its purpose is to "address the health-care crisis in the United States - its quality, safety, affordability and accessibility."

"One of the things we're going to teach in our new school is how important it is to take care of the underserved," said Dr. Nash, also a board member of Catholic Healthcare Partners, the non-profit health system that sponsored the Rome retreat. "We're going to pay a lot of attention to the meaning of the word 'mission' in health care."

JSHPPH's stated mission is "to prepare leaders with global vision to develop, implement and evaluate health policies and systems that improve the health of populations and thereby enhance the quality of life."

In Sept. 2009, the school will open for individuals interested in Master's degrees in Public Health and Health Policy, or Chronic Care Management and Healthcare Quality and Safety - two unique programs that are the first of their kind in the nation and region.

The range of programs are aimed at attracting individuals with a variety of interests and career goals. So while the Quality and Safety program may attract mid-career professionals and undergraduates with an interest in social organization and improvement, the Chronic Care program may appeal to people who interact with families - existing nurses, case managers and diabetes educators - and the health policy program students aiming for academia or the governmental process.

As the new school develops further, dual degree programs and two doctoral programs in Health Policy and Population Health Sciences will also be added.

In addition to Philadelphia's resources, JSHPPH is building partnerships with Widener Law School, the University of Delaware and other business schools in the area.

Cooperation will also come from Catholic Healthcare Partners, the American College of Physician Executives, and the American College of Medical Quality.

Key collaborators in the creation of JSHPPH include the Department of Family and Community Medicine, Kimmel Cancer Center and its Division of Population Science in the Department of Medical Oncology, the Center for Applied Research on Aging and Health, and the Jefferson School of Pharmacy.

For Dr. Nash, the opportunity to continue almost two decades of work at Jefferson, developing his interest in health policy and health care, has been rewarding.

"I'm waking up very, very early every day and thinking about the things I have to do," he said.

Heather J. Chin can be reached at

©The Evening Bulletin 2008

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