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UCSF Creates Online Master of Science Degree

New graduate program designed to develop future interprofessional health leaders

by University of California - San Francisco
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UC San Francisco will launch an innovative online Master of Science Degree Program in Healthcare Administration and Interprofessional Leadership created especially for working health professionals who want to focus on developing management and leadership expertise.

The program, developed by UCSF faculty and campus leaders, is designed to prepare graduates with a unique understanding of the context, competencies, knowledge and skills to ensure high quality care and outcomes in the ever-evolving health care arena.

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The new graduate program will formally open to clinicians and non-clinicians in January 2014. The inaugural class will enroll up to 32 students from various disciplines, including dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and social work. UCSF received full accreditation for the program on Aug. 6 from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

A unique focus of the program is developing interprofessional health leadership, with the goal of expanding educational options for early to mid-career professionals working in areas as diverse as community clinics, schools and health care systems.

The UCSF architects of the new degree, who represent the University’s four professional schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy, among others, say it is designed to meet the demands of the changing health care environment and increase the number of health leaders who are prepared for interprofessional teamwork.

UCSF's First Online Degree Program

Primarily an interactive online curriculum taught by UCSF faculty, the program also includes two on-campus academic courses that will bring students to the UCSF campus for intensive weekend sessions. Students will complete their final evidence-based project in their work setting, thus contributing what they learn to their organizations while enrolled in the course.

“This is our first online degree program at UCSF, and we are thrilled to add Healthcare Administration and Interprofessional Leadership to the impressive list of Master of Science programs offered at UCSF,” says Elizabeth Watkins, PhD, dean of the Graduate Division and vice chancellor of Student Academic Affairs. “The program aligns with Chancellor [Susan] Desmond-Hellmann’s vision to develop distance education programs and move graduate health care education beyond discipline-based silos.”

As part of the distinctive design, the program features rolling enrollment – students can embark on their course of study at the start of each quarter rather than once a year. The curricular design and online format will allow students to earn their master’s degree in as few as four quarters – approximately half the time of traditional master’s degree programs.

“In an era of health reform, there’s an increasing need to create graduate programs that are both flexible and academically rigorous,” said Mary Louise Fleming, PhD, RN, director of the Healthcare Administration and Interprofessional Leadership Program. “The program’s online learning environment will provide tomorrow’s leaders, from across the country and around the globe, a front-row seat in UCSF classrooms. They will be prepared by our expert faculty to effect changes needed to shape health care and health systems that improve access, affordability, quality and safety.”

Geared toward both clinical and non-clinical professionals, the program will feature four areas of study:

  • Leadership
  • Health systems research, data management and evaluation
  • Interprofessional practice
  • Health systems management

The program has 12 courses. Each will cost $3,800; the full program costs for 2014-2015 is $45,900.

When the program is fully implemented in 2015, it will enroll 128 students annually.

The program was developed by UCSF faculty and campus leaders. An advisory council led by David Vlahov, RN, PhD, dean of the UCSF School of Nursing, and Fleming spurred the initiation of this new degree program. Members of the council included the past Vice Chancellor of Student Academic Affairs, Joseph Castro; the associate deans from UCSF’s four professional schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy – Tina Brock, EdD, MS; Catherine Lucey, MD; Judy Martin-Holland, RN, PhD; and Dorothy Perry, PhD, along with Kimberly Topp, PhD, PT, from Physical Therapy, Karen Butter, assistant vice chancellor of Library Services and Instructional Technology, Scott Reeves, PhD, director of the Center for Innovation in Interprofessional Education; and Clay Johnston, MD, PhD, associate vice Chancellor of Research and director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at UCSF.