Kathleen L. McFadden, Shi-Jie (Gary) Chen, and Donna J. Munroe, Northern Illinois University, “Exploring An Innovative Multidisciplinary Healthcare Curriculum: A Partnership Of The Colleges Of Business, Law, Engineering, And Health Science”

(If it says multidisciplinary, you know I’m there!)

This paper won the best paper award at the conference. The basic idea is that health care is a uniquely complex industry with problems that require a multidisciplinary approach. Therefore, a curriculum that prepares health care managers/executives needs to be multidisciplinary. but you can only fit so much into your curriculum, so where do you start?

McFadden et al. asked health care execs that question. The areas the execs ranked as highest priority were strategic management, organizational behavior/human resources management, and operations/quality management. Health management technology actually ranked ninth out of twelve main areas. All twelve of those areas still ranked above an average score of 3 on a 5-point scale… but if you have to choose, health IT might not make the list.

There are big institutional challenges to any multidisciplinary program: separate colleges at a university don’t often interact — they are our silos! It’s hard to define who really “owns” the program, and faculty may resist a complicated program that requires that much more cooperation (like team teaching!). But NIU is going to take a swing at this curriculum (meeting on Monday!) and aims to deploy by 2010.

One interesting note: NIU is bringing in a philosopher to help with this program, an expert in “interactional expertise.” Profs in a multidisciplinary program will often brush up against topics outside their field of training and experience. They at least need to know enough about those disciplines to speak about them and explain them to students. That’s “interactional expertise,” being conversant in a subject, even if not technically proficient.