For most people, the new year starts in January. For me, the new year starts in September with the arrival of a new cohort of students who are committed to changing the world.
As a life-long academic, I have come to enjoy the same level of excitement at the beginning of the school year that people have on New Year’s Eve. Thoughts of a new beginning brings the opportunity to improve on things that I have done in the past and start new behaviors that will make me healthier, more organized, and a better leader.
It seems like just yesterday that we launched 612 graduating students into the health care professions at both a challenging and exciting time. Challenging because of the workforce shortages we are seeing on clinical units that are resulting in additional physical and emotional stress for providers. Exciting because we are finally facing up to the real issues in healthcare related to cost, quality, and access with tangible interventions that are being put in place to address these long-standing inequities. Like much of society, health care is undergoing a transformation and our graduates are ready to participate and, in many cases, lead that change.
On September 6, we will welcome 324 new students in Genetic Counseling, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Physician Assistant Studies, Health Professions Education, Health Administration, Healthcare Data Analytics, and several new and existing programs in the School of Nursing. All are arriving for one important reason – to engage in an exceptional educational experience that will prepare them to be leaders in health care. Their choice to attend the IHP signals their commitment to a focused approach to health professions education that has interprofessional practice at its core.
This year feels different than the last two fall semesters that were overshadowed by the planning and adjustments necessitated by the pandemic. While we will still continue some of the guidance that kept the IHP open and safe during the past 30 months, we will move further away from the acute phase of the pandemic with fewer restrictions on group gatherings, approaches to course delivery, and clinical practice experiences.
This frees up our community to take part in activities we’ve been unable to have. Just last week, Jack Gormley, Ronan Campbell and I joined a group of students, faculty, staff, and an alum for a Red Sox game. Even though the Sox lost, engaging with everyone at Fenway made for a great evening. For the first time in two years, our Community Impact Day will be in person with small groups of interprofessional students providing community service in Charlestown. And during Welcome Week in September, we will have our first, in-person, Student Town Hall since the start of the pandemic where students will get to meet members of the President’s Cabinet, hear about their role at the IHP, and ask questions of IHP senior leadership.
Our commitment to the safety and health is unwavering. We are continuing the level of cleaning and disinfecting that we initiated at the start of the pandemic and will continuing to provide the necessary PPE for all members of the IHP community. We will continue to follow the guidance found in Commit @ IHP and hold ourselves accountable to do what is necessary to protect ourselves and our community against the spread of Covid-19 because the pandemic is not completely behind us.
On behalf of the faculty and staff of the IHP, we welcome each of our new students to their respective programs and wish them a very successful academic experience. Before we know it, we will be congratulating each of them on their graduation and launching them into the world of health care. The time sure goes by fast.