PhD in Health Professions Education is Launched

August 21, 2019
Roger Edwards
Program Director Dr. Roger Edwards speaks at a recent HPEd seminar.

A new program offered by the MGH Institute promises to help advance health professions education.

The online PhD in Health Professions Education (HPEd) will provide health care professionals with the skills to design and implement educational research, design and evaluate health professions educational programs, lead change and innovation in health professions education, obtain intramural and extramural support for research projects, and contribute to interprofessional education and practice, leading to improved health outcomes. Students can achieve those goals in one of several concentration tracks: Simulation-Based Education, Leadership and Administration, or Interprofessional Education. Students also can opt to create a customized concentration. 

“There really is an unmet need for working professionals to learn the skills that can improve how they accomplish the diverse demands of academic scholarship, teaching, and administration in the health professions,” said Roger Edwards, the program’s director. “They’ll be able to take this new knowledge and make meaningful contributions to the field of health professions education and advance their careers.”

The program prepares clinicians and other health professionals without a terminal research degree to make contributions to the scholarship of teaching and learning. “There are substantial knowledge gaps in terms of best practices for so much of what occurs in health professions education. We have an opportunity and an obligation to continue to expand the evidence for how best to train the next generations of clinicians,” Dr. Edwards noted. “We are committed to helping professionals acquire the necessary research skills and apply them immediately in their ongoing academic roles.”

The program also meets the doctoral-level faculty requirement for physician assistants, advanced practice nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists. It also enables improved training of physicians, particularly in terms of interprofessional education.

Partnerships with the Center for Medical Simulation and the Harvard Macy Institute are key benefits, as renowned faculty and experts from those organizations teach in the Institute’s HPEd program.

The PhD program incorporates and builds on the Institute’s Master of Science in Health Professions Education by providing additional part-time or full-time blended learning with outcomes commensurate with a research-based PhD. Applications for the 66-credit combined master’s and PhD program, or the 33-credit post-master’s PhD, are due February 1, 2020.

The PhD in Health Professions Education was approved by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education on June 28, 2019. The PhD degree is pending approval from the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), which is expected to review the program at its September 15, 2019 meeting.