Teaching tomorrow's health professionals

photo of smiling graduation students

Students increasingly are learning in interdisciplinary teams to prepare them for a workplace in which teamwork is the norm.

The Woodruff Health Sciences Center integrates strengths of its varied components to help serve students and trainees better.

The center recently created the Woodruff Health Educators Academy, for example, to give teaching across the health sciences more structure and foundation and provide more opportunities for interprofessional collaboration among faculty in medicine, nursing, and public health. One goal is to give students more opportunities to learn in interprofessional teams so their education more accurately mirrors the team dynamic on which workplaces increasingly depend.

The benefits of team training are quickly apparent. A residency program trains nurse practitioners and physician assistants to practice in critical care medicine, thus helping compensate for physician shortages in this area and providing staffing for rural hospitals with otherwise little access to such expertise.

Another program regularly assembles a team of surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nurses and simulates different operating room emergencies to help them practice dealing with the unexpected. After each 15-minute scenario (a power outage, for example), they spend 30 minutes debriefing, discussing lessons learned and how those might be translated into action.

The benefits of closer collaboration among schools and units are obvious as well. The nursing school and Emory Healthcare (EHC) are working together to provide the best clinical training opportunities for students at EHC sites and to hire increasing numbers of graduates to fill Emory’s own staffing needs.

In EHC’s most recent annual quality conference poster competition, a fourth-year, dual-degree student in public health and medicine led the winning team in the student category. These students from public health, medicine, nursing, and business worked to improve interpretation services for patients with unmet language needs at the Clarkston Community Health Center, which serves refugees in Atlanta.


Students and trainees in health sciences:

Emory University School of Medicine

■ 556 medical students, including 93 MD/PhD students

■ 1,311 residents and fellows

■ 530 students in allied health training, such as physical therapy and physician assistant programs

Rollins School of Public Health

■ 1,164 master's and 180 PhD students

Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing

■ 491 bachelor's, 301 master's, 31 PhD students, 76 DNP students



■ Emory Healthcare provided $103.3 million to support teaching and research missions in the Woodruff Health Sciences Center in fiscal year 2017-2018.

■ The Woodruff Health Sciences Center invested 23.4% of its tuition income last year in financial aid for its students, an amount totaling $28.9 million.