By Nancy Fey-Yensan
Summer has come and gone and once again, and we are kicking-off have kicked-off another fall semester. I always look forward to this time of the year – the energy and excitement it brings to our campus and of course, the chance to embark on a fresh beginning. With our opening Convocation ceremony we, as a University, took a moment to celebrate our achievements and reflect on the lessons of the past and our aspirations for the future. These sentiments also ring true for the College of Health and Human Services. With a fresh beginning, we can also celebrate our accomplishments and the many new opportunities taking shape that will most certainly take our College to the next level of success.
This year, we have several new professors joining our exceptional faculty, lots of new talent among our graduate students, administrative and growing research staff, and of course, many new first year students assuming their role as members of the class of 2017. The College as a whole is accomplishing extraordinary things that also mark fresh beginnings. This summer the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree was approved, with a full class entering the School of Nursing now. The Department of Public Health Sciences just received notice that our PhD in Behavioral Science was approved and they will start accepting applications in January of 2014.
We are launching many new and innovative research and service relationships with the health care industry, and, we are watching with great interest as the next phases of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unfold -- hopeful for the potential of fresh beginnings for many uninsured families in our Charlotte community, across the state and nationally. Recently, I have been thinking a lot about the ACA because it has such a direct connection to our work at the College in terms of community engagement, research and how we must educate and orient the next generation of health care and social service providers.
This is truly an amazing opportunity for us and those we seek to serve through our work. First and foremost, we hold the belief that everyone has the right to health, which includes full access to affordable and high quality health care. Under the ACA, currently uninsured families will have expanded opportunities to receive regular primary and preventive care—reducing emergency room visits for health issues that could have been avoided in the first place, and at substantially reduced cost to individuals and the health care system—costs that are both emotional and financial. We will play a huge role in this groundbreaking preventative effort by producing the most highly trained community-based work force we can while continuing to expand the competencies of our graduates in the acute-care arena, where hopefully, fewer newly insured will end up.
Gratefully, we are ahead of the curve as we already have our students across all programs experience the delivery of care and services in community settings, working in interdisciplinary teams to strategize more comprehensive and integrated solutions for patients and clients. Newly insured folks will also need easily accessed and understandable health information so that they can be fully engaged partners in staying or becoming healthy. Our nurses, social workers, exercise scientists and public health students will have to communicate effectively and with high cultural competence to help families realize optimal health. What role will we play on the research front? Our goal is to grow connections and partnerships across the new landscape of health care delivery- from grass-roots health and social service agencies, to municipal services, to non-profit health care, to industry- working in tandem to design and assess best and evidence based practices and, to provide analytical expertise for large data bases that will drive decision making to continuously improve patient and client care outcomes.
The ACA is a bold, fresh beginning to creating a health care system that is focused on meeting the basic healthcare needs of ALL Americans, and we will learn much about its impact over the coming months and years. Whatever its major successes or minor failures, I am proud to know that the College of Health and Human Services is a needed and engaged partner in an initiative that will lift up and strengthen families and our communities for years to come.
# # #
Nancy Fey-Yensan is Dean of the College of Health and Human Services