Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Violence, Concern, and The Institute

Over the past week we have learned of shootings and stabbings at Regis College, Boston College, and at Seton Hall University. These important institutions with strong religious and service identities are the last place one might expect to observe such violence. This morning, in the Boston Globe we see reports and commentary about the recent violence in our city that has led to the death of a young mother and her preschool child. This is so much food for thought and for thinking about safety, social issues and trauma, coping and the list goes on.

Earlier today, I had an email exchange with my good friend and colleague, Dean Brian Shulman at Seton Hall. His response to my attempted words of concern and encouragement: "We will get through this." These heroic words have been used so many times in recent years, as our educational institutions and the young people who are their focus have come under attack. Academic leaders and others seem to constantly have to remind their stakeholders that recovery is possible, that confidence in the future should not be underminded by a single event, and that the collective "we" is fundamental to recovery.

The images associated with these acts of violence trigger many concerns for me (and I am sure for all of us), I am trying to put my own thoughts around what we can do in the Institute community. First, assuring that we provide a safe environment for our work and study. All of us should take note of any person or situation that seems questionable. The MGH Police Officers and Security system are excellent and are available to us 24/7. Second, we should be sure that our students, as health providers, are prepared to deal with the acute and chronic "symptoms" experienced by those touched by violence. These are our patients, families, clients, and potentially our students and colleagues. Learning to communicate with, develop trust with, and address the needs of those who have experienced these problems should be part of our core skills as practitioners. We should be asking about our competence in dealing with trauma, grief, coping, and long term support and rehabilitation for those affected by violence. Finally, we should all recognize our own collective and individual role in preventing violence in the first place. The literature and the popular media have promoted the concept of the "first responder" as those individuals who intervene after an emergent situation has occurred. I believe that in many cases, those individuals are the "second responders." My hope is that our faculty, students, and alumni are true first responders--individuals who devote their work and energy to being the one who prevents, to the degree possible, the kind of violence that we have recently experienced.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hindsight and Foresight

Last week I distributed two documents. The first, a summary of the "academic" progress of the Institute tells the story of all that you and your students and colleagues have done to make the Institute better in teaching, service, and research over the past year. The second, The Role of the IHP in Health Care Education of the Future, provided a series of questions and reflections for the faculty to consider as we engage in strategic planning over this fall term.

As I thought about "Vision 2020", our strategic planning process, I found it very helpful to use the accomplishments and challenges of the past year to serve as the foundation for thoughts about the future. We have accomplished so much! Rather than listening to those random voices of frustration about the volume of work that remains to be done, looking backward helps me see that we can be confident that it is all do-able.

So, as we enter this time of planning and focus on the longer term, I hope that you find the opportunity to join me in an optimistic view in Vision 2020. In fact my wish for all of us is that we can share 20/20 vision about Vision 2020!
Have a great week.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Off to a Great Start

We are off to a great start (why does it always feel like a race?) to our new academic year at the Institute. We have crossed a new enrollment threshold of 1000 students. This is largely due to unexpected growth in our part time and non degree programs, particularly the new year round opportunity for "prerequisites in the health professions." Yesterday we kicked off the year with a little early morning breakfast celebration for the faculty and staff.

This fall we welcome several new faculty colleagues to our community. New faculty members in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences-Meredith Bosley (CSD), Bonnie Halvorson-Beourgeois (CSD), Douglas Haladay (PT), Janet Kneiss (PT), and the new Associate Chair of Physical Therapy, Pamela Levangie (PT).

In the School of Nursing, new faculty members include Susan Carpenter, Theresa Evans, Amy Fuller, Susan Hamilton, Antonia Makosky, and Judith Webb. Stephen Coffey has also increased to a full time position this year.

As you welcome each new faculty member, be sure to let them know of your interests and activities. They will all be looking for ways to become involved in the life of the Institute.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Here We Go

Welcome and Welcome Back....

First of all, I am thrilled to welcome 10 new faculty members who have joined us since last spring. In my next blog, I will focus on introducing them. Representing the Department of CSD, the School of Nursing, and the Department of Physical Therapy, these outstanding individuals come to us with fantastic clinical and academic experience, wonderful aspirations, and a commitment to working with our students and faculty members. Please join me in welcoming them, including them in every way that will help them get started, and pointing them toward resources and ideas that might be helpful in getting started!

Hearty welcome to 28 new students in our International PT program, and all 392 students who have joined the Institute community since last May. Each of you brings talent, intellect, and energy that we welcome and honor. One of you was THE student who helped us cross the threshold to 1000 students!

And for those returning faculty and staff member, I want to say "thanks." Thanks for returning, thanks for all that you have done and will do to focus on excellence, thank you for being open and inviting to healthy change, and thank you for all you to make our community thrive!

I hope that you will choose to stay tuned to my blog, and respond openly,and introduce issues or topics that might help the community.

I invite you to discover some improvements and expansions in our clinical and laboratory areas; talk with Denis Stratford about new teaching and learning technologies, participate in our orientation for new students on Tuesday, Sept. 7.

Welcome and Welcome Back to the Institute!