ENRiCH - The Future of the IHP

November 11, 2021

Over the next five years, the MGH Institute will implement several changes to its educational approach that will affect the entire spectrum of students, from those just starting out in a direct-entry program on their way to a new career to seasoned professionals taking online courses so they can tackle new challenges. Degree programs in leadership, nursing education, and data analytics will be added to a portfolio of new programs launched over the past 18 months. Continuing and professional development offerings will be expanded. Clinical education will be redesigned. A new School of Healthcare Leadership will be created. It’s all part of a visionary initiative called ENRiCH, which will focus on six areas: 

Existing programs 
New initiatives 
Redesign of clinical programs 
Continuing and professional development expansion 
Helping faculty succeed. 

By 2026, it will have accomplished several things. It will increase the Institute’s visibility and importance within the Mass General Brigham (MGB) system, enlarge the student population more than 40% to over 2,300, and provide new revenue streams to ensure the school is well-positioned to continue educating the healthcare leaders of tomorrow. 

“We have to grow to sustain our commitment to excellence, which requires innovation and investment. And we have to work on ways to keep down the cost of an IHP education,” says President Paula Milone-Nuzzo. “We’re building on a strong foundation and adding programs that will add to the richness of an IHP education and fulfill our mission of educating healthcare leaders.” 

Existing Programs and New Initiatives 

In 2019, Dr. Milone-Nuzzo set up a growth steering committee, which brought in the consulting firm Tyton Partners to work with the Office of Enrollment to identify potential new programs. She appointed Dr. Alex Johnson, provost and vice president for academic affairs, to lead the initiative.

Alex Johnson

“This is a great time, filled with opportunities for the Institute to do even more creative things,” Johnson says. Because the Institute’s direct-entry programs are at or very near capacity, he says diversifying the existing online programs was imperative to meet the enrollment goals as well as deepen the school’s commitment to interprofessional education, diversity, and research. The market research by Tyton, he adds, was essential to fully understand how adding post-professional degrees, certificates, and seminars would meet the health care industry’s needs. 

Existing and new programs—the E and N in ENRiCH—will help the Institute grow in myriad ways while preparing students for practice environments. There will be new degree programs and continuing education opportunities for working health care professionals to pursue online, as well as part-time education, from interprofessional certificates to master’s degrees that can flow seamlessly into both existing and new doctoral programs. 

The most visible change will be the transformation of the Center for Interprofessional Studies and Innovation into a new hub of cutting-edge continuing education, the School of Healthcare Leadership (SHL). “This is the third leg of a large stool,” Johnson says of the new school, which joins the School of Nursing (SON) and School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS). “It will complement everything we do.”

SHL will be composed of five academic units: two new master’s degree programs in Healthcare Data Analytics and Health Administration; the Health Professions Education graduate program; an expanded Office of Continuing and Professional Development, which runs innovative programs for professionals in healthcare, education, and public safety; and the growing Prerequisites for the Health Professions program. 

Additional new degrees in SHRS include post-professional doctoral degree programs in speech-language pathology and occupational therapy that launched over the past year. A third program in audiology is expected to begin in 2023 through a creative partnership with Mass Eye and Ear. 

This combination of existing and emerging programs is intended to spark new ideas and more programs in the future. And it will enable the IHP to customize programs for hospitals within the Mass General Brigham system that want specialized training for their employees. 

New growth also will take place in the SON, which is adding two master’s degree programs: Leadership in Nursing Administration and Leadership in Nursing Education. The Leadership in Nursing Administration degree will help meet the national demand for qualified nurse administrators; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 32 percent increase in employment of medical and health services managers through 2029. 

“Managers say they are looking for nurses who have a background in nursing administration, who understand research data, quality improvement, and informatics, who have a foundation in interprofessional team building skills,” says Dr. Elaine Tagliareni, who recently completed two years as the nursing school’s dean. 

As for starting the Leadership in Nursing Education master’s program, Tagliareni says the reasoning was simple: “If we don’t have enough qualified nurse educators, we won’t have enough qualified nurses.” 

The two programs, she notes, will knock down some of the walls that traditionally stand between healthcare education programs. “There will be an interprofessional element because students will take classes with students in our School of Healthcare Leadership and in our Health Professions Education program,” she says. “The health professions have been taught in silos for too long. We’re changing that.” 

Ann Prestipino

Ann Prestipino, the senior vice president for education, strategy implementation, and emergency preparedness at Massachusetts General Hospital, played a key role in creating the Health Administration program. Prestipino, who now is working with the Institute to develop a master’s program in perfusion studies, says the Institute’s efforts to diversify its academic offerings are a win-win. “Because of ENRiCH, the IHP will be able to grow and also help the entire Mass General Brigham system by developing skilled professionals that are needed across all healthcare disciplines,” she notes. “And with these new innovations, IHP graduates will carry this team-based perspective with them whether they go on to work at MGB or at other institutions.” 

An Innovative Redesigning of Clinicals 

Every year, thousands of students from the IHP and other area schools vie for a limited number of clinical rotation slots in hospitals, community health centers, and other facilities. That’s why the R in ENRiCH calls for a redesign of how the IHP approaches a critical part of the learning experience. 

“Clinical placement has been a pain point for a long time,” says Dr. Mary Knab, the associate provost for interprofessional education and practice, noting that the process of securing clinicals has changed little over the years, even decades in some cases. “We wanted to design an innovative model that is sustainable and leaves us less vulnerable to external placement shortages.” 

Last year this process got an unexpected shove from COVID-19. Clinical placements abruptly ended during the pandemic’s initial phase and were slow to return. Faculty faced major challenges finding placements for students who needed required hours to graduate. 

Working with Sierra Learning Systems, Knab and several teams of IHP faculty and staff generated several innovative solutions—the I in ENRiCH. The first was to expand the number of clinical placements at the Sanders IMPACT Practice Center, giving students supervised opportunities to work on site and through online connection with clients, offering the local population more options for care. Over the past 18 months, telehealth has become standard procedure for some of the Center’s services, something the team hopes to continue where accreditation bodies allow. 

The second solution was to increase the use of simulation labs that were expanded two years ago—again, in conjunction with accreditation bodies’ approval. “There are competencies students can develop on campus using experiences that simulate clinical environments, removing some of the burden of having all clinical education be in a live-practice environment,” Knab says. “The on-campus learning creates opportunities for programs to use a blend of experiences, removing some of the pressure on external placements to do it all.” 

Clinical educators in hospitals, clinics, and community agencies will continue to play a major role, so the school is creating incentives for them such as deeper discounts for continuing education classes, a recognition program, and resources for consultation and career development. Johnson points to the potential for developing new partnerships with clinical partners and students’ future employers: “We are thinking about how to work with agencies that we haven’t worked with before— especially the ones that serve high-risk, low-resource populations—so we can create clinical placements that lighten the load of these hosting agencies.” 

Rob Brodnick

Rob Brodnick, a consultant who founded Sierra Learning Solutions, has worked for over a year on several aspects of ENRiCH. He ran discussions with faculty, students, alumni, and community partners so school leaders could better understand what various stakeholders want from the Institute and ensure the school could fill those needs. He says he has been highly impressed by how the Institute has embraced the company’s use of design thinking to identify, develop, and implement innovative improvements.

“The IHP has taken a bold and aggressive approach to improving how clinical education is done by using these innovative tools. It is doing the kind of things that most schools won’t or can’t do.”
- Rob Brodnick, Sierra Learning Solutions

Expanding Continuing Professional Development 

The Office of Continuing and Professional Development (CPD) already offers an extensive portfolio of innovative programs, mostly aimed at healthcare providers. Covering an array of topics as diverse as children’s learning problems, leadership development, human trafficking, and climate health, CPD is continually working to advance the skills and knowledge of health professionals. Expanding the office represents the C in ENRiCH.
Because the Institute recently was designated as the only academic degree-granting organization in Massachusetts with joint accreditation status, it now can award interprofessional credits to meet the needs of nursing professionals, physicians, physician assistants, psychologists, pharmacists, and social workers. 

“People sometimes think the Institute is like a medical school,” Johnson says. “But when it comes to accreditation, we’re like eight medical schools because we have eight different accreditors with many different sets of regulations and requirements.” 

This designation also means the CPD can design credit-bearing programs that meet employers’ specific needs, whether it’s a primary care clinic, a skilled nursing facility, a rehabilitation hospital, or smaller health care settings that serve nonacute patients and those with chronic conditions. 

“As we grow, we can dramatically expand our support for individual academic programs that want to engage their own provider audiences,” says Dr. Susan Farrell, the CPD’s director. “We’ll also expand leadership training, in part by drawing on the skills of an educator who teaches conflict management to help students think about how to have difficult conversations with other professionals or with patients.”

Sue Farrell

Farrell says more educators from different fields will be added to the faculty mix, and they will be able to discover where their teaching overlaps and form new collaborations. So, a speech-language pathologist who is developing a program for a skilled nursing facility could in theory work with a nurse practitioner and a physical therapist to develop more collaborative activities. “It’s a level of learning that goes beyond training at the bedside to help build interprofessional teams’ resilience and improve patient care,” she says. 

A Focus on Support 

To help faculty and staff succeed in this new era of growth—the H in ENRiCH—the Institute is building an innovative infrastructure to provide the resources needed to boost creative collaboration. 
Promoting professional development and managing change are on the agenda, says Dr. Peter Cahn, associate provost for academic affairs. It includes implementing new approaches to maximize informational technology, instructional design, and simulation. Faculty will be able to leverage the resources of the Bellack Library and the Sanders IMPACT Practice Center to implement the new initiatives. It’s all intended to create a nimble academic environment where people can quickly test and measure new approaches to optimize learning. 

Cahn also is thinking about how to support faculty in the new School of Healthcare Leadership. “Traditionally, we’ve had full-time faculty working in and across academic departments,” he says. “Now, with ENRiCH adding part-time programs and part-time faculty whose main responsibility is as expert practitioners, we’re working on ways to support them even though they won’t be physically here, so that they and their students feel included as integral parts of the Institute.” 

A Transformative Future 

Taken together, the initiatives that comprise ENRiCH promise to reshape the Institute in countless ways. In addition, the IHP’s high standards in education, scholarship, and research will continue, as will its commitment to infusing all its programs with JEDI principles and practices—a topic that continues to take on greater meaning and purpose. 

“Healthcare providers have to know how to address issues of race, sexuality, and identity,” Johnson says. “Providers have to be empathic and effective. The same issues come up in data analytics; so many of the challenges we have in research are when whole groups of people are left out. If researchers don’t include women or people of color in important studies, then they have left a whole set of questions unanswered.” 

And as ENRiCH rolls out, these innovations promise to lead to additional initiatives across the IHP. “The programs we’re launching now will likely become models for future programs that we create to meet additional healthcare needs in the future,” says Milone-Nuzzo. “The measure of our success will be our ability to educate professionals to meet the challenges of healthcare in the 21st century. ENRiCH will be transformational for the Institute.”

- By Alyssa Haywoode