Creighton Extends Health Care Reach; Pioneers New Care Model

By Rick Davis, Director of Communications, Creighton University

Creighton University will begin offering its accelerated nursing program in Phoenix this January (Photo by Creighton University)

With a tradition of excellence in health care education dating back to 1892 – combined with a legacy of groundbreaking research and a history of providing cutting-edge, compassionate patient care – Creighton University is extending its reach as a health care leader in the Jesuit, Catholic tradition and pioneering a new model of collaborative care.

In September, Creighton and several major health care providers in Arizona announced a new alliance aimed at addressing the region’s critical need for more physicians and other health care providers.

Through the newly established Creighton University Arizona Health Education Alliance, Creighton will oversee and broaden medical education programs at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Maricopa Integrated Health System (MIHS), and District Medical Group in Phoenix.

“This is an exciting partnership that brings together a university recognized for providing outstanding training for students in the health sciences with health care providers known for their impressive history of caring for members of the greater Phoenix community,” said Creighton’s president, Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, S.J.

The partnership was officially launched on September 1. The alliance will develop new academic and clinical education programs in medicine, nursing, pharmacy, occupational therapy and physical therapy.

Currently, Arizona ranks 32nd in the nation for the number of active medical doctors per 100,000 people. As the alliance matures, officials say that the goal is to expand training opportunities in residencies, fellowships and spots for medical students. It is presumed that such an expansion would increase the likelihood that more physicians and other health care professionals who have studied in Arizona will then remain and practice in the state.

Creighton University is pioneering a new collaborative care model at its recently opened University Campus medical facility (Photo by Creighton University)

In January 2018, Creighton University’s College of Nursing will begin offering its accelerated nursing program with Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. Students will be able to complete the program in 12 months, providing a dramatically expedited pathway toward a degree and a career.

“Like many regions across the country, Arizona is experiencing a significant shortage in nursing and other health professions,” said Catherine Todero, dean of Creighton’s College of Nursing. “We are excited about the opportunity to expand our proven programs into the Valley and help address this important need, while providing an opportunity for a bright future for the students who will receive their degrees from Creighton University.”

Creighton has been an academic mainstay in Phoenix for more than a decade, sending medical students to St. Joseph’s for rotations. That relationship expanded significantly in 2009 when a Creighton campus for third- and fourth-year medical students was established at the Phoenix hospital. As the only Catholic medical school campus west of Omaha, it is home to almost 100 Creighton medical students.

In the Jesuit tradition of reaching out to the poor and marginalized, Creighton students in Phoenix, like those in Omaha (where Creighton's main campus is located), are active in service to their community. Some have started traveling to Mexico every other month to provide volunteer care at a health clinic established by two Creighton alumni, and some have worked with St. Joseph’s faculty to open a student-run clinic at the St. Vincent DePaul center in Phoenix, providing volunteer care under the guidance of attending physicians.

Creighton University is expanding its reach as a leader in Jesuit, Catholic health care education through new partnerships in Phoenix (Photo by Creighton University)

Creighton University is expanding its reach as a leader in Jesuit, Catholic health care education through new partnerships in Phoenix (Photo by Creighton University)

In addition to Creighton’s expanded academic health care presence in Phoenix, the University recently joined with its primary clinical partner in Omaha, CHI Health, to create a one-of-a-kind, dual-campus academic medical center. Creighton ceremoniously opened its University Campus in January 2017, followed by a celebration for the opening of its campus at Omaha's Bergan Mercy Medical Center in May. In August, Creighton and CHI Health were honored with one of three national awards distinguishing institutions committed to and promoting a collaborative care model. Creighton and CHI received honorable mention for the Nexus Award, presented by the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education, along with fellow Jesuit institution, Saint Louis University.

The establishment of the two campuses followed the sale of Creighton’s former academic medical center at 30th and California streets. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony for University Campus, Creighton School of Medicine Dean Robert “Bo” Dunlay, M.D. addressed the exciting opportunities for cutting-edge collaborative care at the new facility.

“In partnership with our neighbors, this is where we will design and test innovative approaches to advancing wellness and preventing illness,” Dunlay said. “Creighton University and CHI Health will be anchored here serving this community for many years to come.”

Creighton is establishing itself as a leader in collaborative care, both at its campuses in Omaha and in Phoenix. Joy Doll, executive director of Creighton’s Center for Interprofessional Practice, Education and Research (CIPER), said this approach represents the future of clinical care and is an extension of Creighton’s classroom teaching.

Doll noted that the team-based model is in line with changes coming in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, which will focus less on fee for service and more on patient outcomes. For patients, this means more holistic care – in which, for instance, they might see a nurse, physician, pharmacist and psychologist all in one visit. Doll said, “Creighton is on the leading edge nationally in offering our students in the health sciences — dentistry, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, pharmacy and physical therapy, along with a developing physician’s assistant program — opportunities for collaborative care education and practice in the clinical setting."