Bridging the gap between healthcare needs and education
In a chance encounter in London in 2017, Education Director Andrew Malley of Global University Systems had a conversation with a group of Dignity Health executives. They noted that there was a stark disconnect between the healthcare industry’s needs and the educational offerings available to the workforce.
“Too often, industries wait for education to catch up with them. Then they complain about the results, they feel the graduate isn't skilled enough, or — in the case of healthcare — is educated within a dated qualifications framework,” says Andrew. “I realized that within Dignity Health, there were fundamental building blocks to provide amazing healthcare education where expertise could be captured, structured, and delivered in a way that students, working professionals, and patients wanted and needed.”
This sparked the idea to develop a new kind of healthcare workforce development company: A company that delivers timely, scalable education and relevant skills to clinical and non-clinical workers in healthcare. A company that ensures healthcare workers learn the skills they need to apply on the job by consulting industry professionals at every step of the way — a concept that, although seemingly obvious, is unique in the market.
“This is what we set out to do,” says Andrew. “But we also wanted to go beyond it. We didn’t just want to bring in any industry professionals, but leverage connections to bring together the best of academia, world-class experts, and working professionals to create a learning ecosystem that is unmatched.”
A new kind of healthcare workforce development company takes shape
Andrew was not the only one to believe in this mission. After initial negotiations, a joint venture between Dignity Health and Global University Systems was signed and OpusVi, with Andrew as CEO, was born. Gregg Davis, Senior Vice President for International Business and Strategy for then Dignity Health, was a driving force in the founding of OpusVi. The first partner, Duke CE, was signed in January 2019 and productions for a Certificate in Nurse Leadership began.
OpusVi’s existence was officially announced to the world in PRNewswire on January 30, 2019, only one day before OpusVi’s parent Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives had announced their merger as CommonSpirit Health, thereby creating one of the largest not-for-profit healthcare systems in the U.S. and worldwide.
OpusVi’s first year in review
Much has happened since the company first opened its doors to the public: Strong leadership and teams were found and formed.
Julie DeLoia, who would join full-time as Chief Academic Officer a few months later (Read the announcement and our interview with Julie here), liked the idea of providing flexible, accessible, and affordable education in a sector of society that promises long term, well-paying jobs.
“OpusVi is different," says Julie. "We offer more than just degree programs. We provide a wide range of opportunities to address the education, skills, and competencies that are needed for personal and professional growth. At times, that may require another degree; other times it may mean an intensive, highly focused short course.”
Kurt Hayes got on board as Chief Learning Experience Officer to ensure that OpusVi’s programs would be tailored to the needs of the students — not only in regards to the learning content but also its presentation and delivery (Find out more about how our programs are made in this interview with Kurt).
Apart from defining the mission, vision, and values of the company, Felicity Dale, Director of Marketing and Enrollment who, like Andrew, had worked for Global University Systems in London before, also recalls that a lot of the terminology had to be “Americanized” to truly speak to the initial target market. “I thought Brits and Americans speak the same language, but at the end of the first meeting with my new American colleagues, I wasn’t all that sure,” she jokes. “Targeting our messaging to Americans goes beyond changing the spelling from ‘programme’ to ‘program’, saying ‘custom’ instead of ‘bespoke’, and replacing the letter ‘s’ with a ‘zed’ or — should I say — ‘zee’. It also means that we truly have to understand higher education and the healthcare space in the U.S. with its unique challenges and opportunities. For this, we work with experts from both areas every step of the way.”
As a bridge between the U.S. and international markets, an office in the heart of Toronto, Canada, was chosen as headquarters. Currently, OpusVi operates from several locations in North America and Europe. With unparalleled speed while setting the standard for high quality, more than ten top-ranked academic partners have been signed, eight Certificate and Degree programs have been launched, and more than 20 degrees, certificates, and short courses are scheduled to launch in 2020.
Education designed for impact
How was it possible for OpusVi to form alliances with world-leading institutions such as Duke CE, the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School, Webster University, Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management, American University, DePaul University, and others in such a short span of time? Andrew says that the partners truly believe in the shared mission.
Having taught and led in education around the world, he has firsthand knowledge of the positive change and empowerment that education can provide to individuals and communities: “Through my experiences in education globally, I have realized that the empowerment education brings is literally endless and life-changing. I experienced this personally in my own life. And I have seen students lift their families out of poverty due to education. I have seen single mothers with no support become leaders and people empower their children with a better life so they won’t have to encounter the same hardships. I have also realized that an average teacher supplying a bad education is not the way to do things. If you aren’t in it to be the best teacher you can be and offer the best education you can, then it’s time to change careers. I believe in high-quality education and the opportunities and the power it brings to the individuals and communities who have access to it.”
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The National Association of Latino Healthcare Executives (NALHE) and Dignity Health Global Education (DHGE) are aligned in their mission to increase access to high-quality education and equity in healthcare