Photo of Tim Lahey by Mark Washburn
Undergraduate Initiative in Health Care Delivery Science Launches with Philanthropic Gift
Dartmouth undergraduates will soon have far greater access to the groundbreaking research and elite training offered by The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, thanks to a generous gift from Dartmouth College alumnus Eric Eichler '57. The gift will support new undergraduate educational programming in healthcare delivery science—previously available only at the graduate and professional level at Dartmouth. Harnessing the power of interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching, this undergraduate initiative will bring together faculty from across campus to offer students exciting new educational opportunities in health care delivery.
"For several years, we have been exploring how best to create opportunities for Dartmouth undergraduates," says Elliott Fisher, MD, MPH, director of The Dartmouth Institute. "With Eric Eichler's visionary gift, we will be able to work closely with our colleagues in the Faculty of Arts & Sciences to build a program that will enable students to understand the challenges facing health care systems around the world, and to begin to think critically about what will be required to transform health care."
Set to launch this year, the Health Care Leadership Initiative includes plans for an annual summer program, fellowship opportunities, and both co-curricular and for-credit courses. Beginning in July, undergraduates from Dartmouth and other institutions can enroll in Dartmouth Health Care Foundations. A weeklong residential program, Dartmouth Health Care Foundations will give students interested in public health and health care delivery the chance to study with faculty from The Dartmouth Institute and a variety of related arts and sciences disciplines. Its curriculum provides an entry point from which undergraduates can examine the most pressing issues facing health care today and allows students to work closely with experts in the field.
Also starting in the summer of 2018, ten Dartmouth undergraduates will be awarded the Eric Eichler '57 Fellowship for Health Care Leaders. Fellows attend the summer residency at no cost and participate in a yearlong mentorship program with a faculty member. They will take part in health care delivery science internships and research opportunities, and work on community projects responsive to health needs. Through experiential learning and extensive mentorship, the Eric Eichler '57 Fellowship for Health Care Leaders will keep outstanding students engaged in their pursuit of healthcare careers.
A one-term, co-curricular, hybrid online course that presents an overview of health care delivery science through a liberal arts lens will be available to Dartmouth undergraduates beginning in September 2018. This course will approach the challenges of health care from a wide range of disciplines.
Additional plans call for the development of two multidisciplinary, accredited courses designed and overseen by faculty members from both arts and sciences and The Dartmouth Institute to be offered to Dartmouth undergraduates.
Duane Compton, PhD, dean of the Geisel School of Medicine, says, "The Dartmouth Institute is widely recognized as a leader in health systems research, education, and innovation, and its work contributed to national health care policy reform and has fundamentally transformed our understanding of health care. We're excited to be able to offer undergraduate students the opportunity to learn about this important field of study from some of its leading thinkers."
Building on a Strong Foundation
The undergraduate Health Care Leadership Initiative was formed through close collaboration between Fisher, Elizabeth Smith, PhD, dean of the faculty of Arts and Sciences, Tim Lahey, MD, MMSc, director of education at The Dartmouth Institute, and other innovators across campus.
"Dartmouth is uniquely positioned to design a program like this, not only because of the strength of The Dartmouth Institute but also because of our small size and experience with developing integrated educational programming," Smith says.
Lahey, who presided over the team creation of The Dartmouth Institute's hybrid online Master of Public Health degree program and has taught Dartmouth undergraduate students about HIV and other health-related topics, says that by his estimate 20 to 25 percent of Dartmouth undergraduates are interested in health careers. The Health Care Leadership Initiative, Lahey says, "takes things that are great about Dartmouth, like interdisciplinary scholarship and in-depth mentorships, and applies them to health careers in a way that students pursuing health professions will really appreciate."
The son of a physician, Eric Eichler has paid close attention to the evolution of medicine and health care. Now retired from a career in real estate and an active alumni volunteer, Eichler was moved by President Philip Hanlon's commitment to Dartmouth's leading role in efforts to build a more efficient, effective, and sustainable health care system. "This gift will start the ball rolling to address questions about health care and medicine and how they are taught," Eichler says. "Our country can do better than it's doing now." He hopes other people who are concerned about the state of health care will join him in supporting this new undergraduate program and help it flourish.