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Chapter Spotlight: Shadowing, Improving Access to Care, and Online Courses at Valdosta State

By IHI Open School | Monday, January 11, 2016

James Powell IHI Open School Chapter

The IHI Open School network has grown to nearly 800 Chapters around the world. In this post, we’re spotlighting one of the newest: Valdosta State University. We talked to Chapter Leader James A. Powell to learn what the Chapter is doing to advance quality and safety in the next generation of health care professionals.

Open School: How long has your Chapter been around?

James Powell: Our student chapter at Valdosta State University (VSU) began in January 2015. I was a men’s basketball player at VSU, and decided to stop playing to focus on my career as a health care professional. I wanted to start an organization that would fit the needs of all students studying health care and IHI was the perfect fit. After many discussions with my faculty advisors, I took their advice on starting the first health care organization that’s part of VSU’s College of Business Administration. Now, we have 71 members.

OS: What about your Chapter work are you most proud of this year?

JP: I am very proud of the dedicated students in our Chapter — it’s what makes a new student organization so strong. Each month we take two or three students to the South Georgia Medical Center Hospital Authority open session meetings. I came up with the idea after my multiple shadowing experiences with two former CEOs there. It’s great to see the excitement of the members experiencing what it is like to be in a professional health care environment.

Increasing access to care in our community is another great project we’re working on. Our Chapter is helping fundraise for the South Georgia Partnership for Health, a medical/dental clinic that provides free health care for the working uninsured in Lowndes County.

OS: What tips would you give other Chapter leaders?

JP: Give the students a way to use the skills they are learning from the Open School courses in the real world. Here at the VSU Chapter, we have made it our mission to create internship opportunities for our students. Another tip would be to communicate with your members and be available to answer any questions or concerns they may have. Ask your members what they would like to see done as well. While being a resource to your members, you are developing the leadership skills students need to take on bigger roles as health care professionals.

OS: What disciplines are represented in your Chapter?

JP: Our Chapter is primarily students studying health care administration. As we continue to grow, we are looking to involve more pre-medical students and pre-dental students. We have a few nursing students, graduate students, and a student studying international business and marketing.

OS: What are your goals for 2016?

JP: My goal for next year is to have students from all health professions represented, as well as the addition of more graduate students at VSU. I want to have an internship program with South Georgia Medical Center that includes an improvement project as part of the intern’s work. I’d also love to continue to increase the number of students who have completed the Open School certificate.

OS: What are your favorite Open School courses?

JP: My favorite courses are the lessons on leadership and patient safety!

Learn more about the IHI Open School Chapter network in our free course, OS 101: Introduction to the IHI Open School or find a Chapter near you in our Chapter map.

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