Dr. Charles A. and Ann Sanders IMPACT Practice Center is Unveiled

July 19, 2018
(l-r) President Milone-Nuzzo, Charles A. Sanders, and Ann Sanders
President Paula Milone-Nuzzo (left) congratulates Dr. Charles A. and Ann Sanders after unveiling the Center's new name.


It was the mid-1970s, and Dr. Charles A. Sanders was working on a project that would prove to be revolutionary in health care education.

The general director (now called president) of Massachusetts General Hospital from 1972-1981, Sanders was continuing a years-long effort to create a new kind of graduate school, one in which teams of health care students from multiple disciplines would work together to provide improved patient care.

This vision of interprofessional education has been the DNA of MGH Institute of Health Professions in the 41 years since its founding, and it has made the school a leader in a method that only in recent years has begun to be copied and accepted in health care education circles.

In recognition of a generous gift, the school’s signature learning environment is now called the Dr. Charles A. and Ann Sanders IMPACT Practice Center. On July 17, the MGH Institute community came together to dedicate the center in their names and, in doing so, recognized their donation as the most recent in a long series of generous contributions and to celebrate the couple that has meant so much to the school's past and whose generosity will continue to influence its future.

“It’s a wonderful place,” said Dr. Sanders as he and his wife toured the 15,000-square foot facility that offers screening, rehabilitation therapies, and education for people of all ages with a range of chronic conditions regardless of their ability to pay or insurance status. “It’s good the Institute continues to stress this.” 

The Dr. Charles A. and Ann Sanders IMPACT Practice Center opened in fall 2017, bringing together students from the school’s five disciplines to learn with and from each other. Third-year Doctor of Physical Therapy student Emma Laird spoke about how it has impacted her education.

“This is a significant strength of the IHP, and specifically clinical education in the Center,” Laird told the audience. “The Center has benefitted my clinical and professional development by providing a safe learning environment for me to practice my clinical reasoning skills with the guidance of the experienced professors and lab instructors who have mentored me.”

The Sanders IPC each year provides more than 10,000 hours of supervised care to residents of Charlestown and the Greater Boston communities. It is composed of the Aphasia Center; the Nursing Center for Clinical Education and Wellness; the Occupational Therapy Center for Learning, Participation, and Rehabilitation; the Physical Therapy Center for Clinical Education and Health Promotion; and the Speech, Language, and Literacy Center.

Rich Arsenault, who had a stroke 12 years ago and has been receiving care at the Aphasia Center ever since, represented the hundreds of clients who have benefitted from student care over the years. “I have improved to what I am today, and I never would have been able to speak or function again without all the help I’ve received at the Institute,” he said.

Dr. Roman DeSanctis, a world-class cardiologist who worked closely with Dr. Sanders during their time together at Mass General, recalls the hard work and effort that went into creating the Institute. Referencing the opposition from several local colleges that wanted to prevent the hospital from establishing what was originally referred to as “MGH University,” DeSanctis said, “How incredibly satisfying it must be to you to see this mighty oak of the IHP which grew out of the acorn that you planted. I think the word ‘Impact’ after Charlie and Ann’s name is incredibly appropriate because you have had such an impact on so many people in so many ways.”

The Sanders have positively affected the MGH Institute for decades. After bringing to fruition the dream envisioned by Dr. Sanders and Dr. John Hilton Knowles, the Sanders' initial contribution to the school was in 1979—two years before the first students even arrived. Since then, they have consistently donated to the school, including the creation of the Charles and Ann Sanders Interprofessional Scholars Fund. Starting in 2012, two students each year have been named Sanders Scholars, receiving a scholarship to both help defray the cost of their education and encourage them to participate in a regional, national, or international interprofessional learning experience.

 Laird, who moved from California to attend the Institute, said the values which have been stressed by the faculty—that all people are resilient, that clients should be at the center of all clinical decisions and care, and that working together will yield better outcomes for both patients and health practitioners—are direct results of the generous history of the Sanders over the years.

 “I know that I can speak for all IHP students when I say, ‘Thank you.’ Without visionaries like yourselves who support institutions and learning models such as the IHP, students would not have these unique and incredibly valuable opportunities,” she said. “We will be not only better clinicians, but we will be leaders in our respective health care fields, and will be improved people of character because of the education we have received here.”