BY NATASHA LANCASTER ’18, M’19
By definition, collaboration is two or more people or groups working together to create or achieve the same result. University of Findlay and Blanchard Valley Health Systems (BVHS) are doing just that through a strategic partnership with the University’s health professions programs.
This strategic partnership will accomplish three primary goals: it will give UF students opportunities for hands-on clinical experience, it will recruit talented and well-trained healthcare workers for positions within BVHS, and it will ultimately provide excellent healthcare to the community.
Kelly Shroll M ’08, president of Blanchard Valley Medical Practices in Findlay, explained that “the partnership will heighten our commitment to providing excellent healthcare to our community. From a workforce standpoint, they are key to providing good patient care by providing well-trained caregivers.” In the healthcare setting, going to clinical sites and getting real-world experience is a requirement; but not all experiences are equally beneficial. “I think the size of Blanchard Valley is also important because it’s small enough for students to have one-on-one training and experiences. Students are able to get a wider variety of experiences at a hospital our size,” Shroll said. “As a health sciences student, the most meaningful experience I had was at a hospital similar to BVHS. The size of the organization and the collaboration between the University and clinical sites on what the students need and giving them exposure to as many things as possible are so important.”
“Collaborating with Blanchard Valley Health System, as a local healthcare delivery system, has evolved from a more casual working relationship into a thought-out plan for student, and ultimately, patient, success,” said Richard Hopkins, department chair and program director of the University of Findlay Physician Assistant Program. “More students are being given the opportunity to complete clinical rotations within Blanchard Valley Health System more frequently which allows for increased familiarity with a single health system’s referral process, electronic medical records, and patient care resources which allows students to be hands-on at a faster pace.”
Melissa Sutton, chair of the University of Findlay Nursing Department, said she is looking forward to future collaboration with BVHS for nursing students as well, as they’ll have the opportunity to participate in “enhanced simulation activities” through the BVHS Simulation and Innovation Center. “The simulation learning activities will assist our nursing students with their transition to practice as a student and also in the future as a new graduate nurse,” Sutton explained. “We are excited to move forward with the simulation collaborative and also explore other interprofessional education opportunities.”
Building for the Future
Along with more opportunities for experiential learning, the UF/BVHS collaboration has also led to a number of building modifications on UF’s campus to support the growing College of Health Professions. The building modifications will provide necessary space for students to learn and will allow for growth within the University’s various health professions programs.
Building modifications for this area are meant to mimic the healthcare setting with many current healthcare center and hospital practices and setups being incorporated. Barbara Pasztor, chief nursing officer of Blanchard Valley Medical Practices, explained that “the classroom spaces look very well thought out; there is so much room for simulation and hands-on experience, and a lot of great technology is going to be implemented.”
With 28 unique academic programs each having their own specific technology, equipment, and space requirements, these upgrades will allow current and future students to get the most out of their education. UF is also confident that with additional space and state-of-the-art equipment, more students and potential faculty members will be drawn to the University.
Once construction is completed, students will be able to enjoy more space with the expansion of an existing classroom and the addition of another class area. Additional areas being renovated will serve as preparatory spaces and house equipment to support student labs and work areas such as the surgical suite and simulation rooms. To ensure students have the most amount of access to faculty, additional office spaces, meeting rooms, and study areas are also included in the new floor plan.
UF knows how important hands-on, experiential learning is for students and that it’s an integral part of the University’s mission to equip students for meaningful lives and productive careers. The strategic partnership and collaborative efforts between UF and BVHS will not only help students in the health professions programs be successful in their future endeavors, but will also expand access to the community for excellent healthcare.
“We went into this [partnership] with the aspirational goal of it being mutually beneficial for the University recruiting and training the best students and the hospital retaining the best healthcare workers for our community,” Pasztor added. “The majority of physician assistants we have at BVHS came from University of Findlay and they are all very well prepared and have become excellent employees.” Shroll added, “A combination of the educational program and the hands-on clinical experience is the best you can offer students. This type of education is so important. Having a strong university like the University of Findlay is a great asset for our community.”
Current students are already feeling the positive effects of the partnership. “Throughout my time at BVHS as a UF student, I was given many opportunities to practice skills learned in classes, like starting IVs and placing Foley catheters,” said Cassie Miller, a current student in the Nursing Program. “My clinical instructor collaborated with staff to get my classmates and me the best experiences possible. By practicing these skills in clinical, I became more confident in myself in clinicals and in the classroom. I am grateful to have had such a wonderful learning experience through this partnership.”