Alliance Moves Forward

Alliance Moves Forward

It’s been nearly 16 months since the Creighton University Arizona Health Education Alliance formally launched as a strategic partnership focused on boosting graduate medical education (GME) opportunities among the partnering organizations and creating a pipeline of health professionals practicing in Arizona.

During that time, much work has been done to integrate the processes of each partner’s graduate medical education offerings under a single entity – the Alliance. The process of melding the programs under the sponsorship of Creighton University has been methodical and strategic. And while much work remains to be done, the end goal of a single entity overseeing educational programs is coming into focus.

The collaboration between Creighton University, Maricopa Integrated Health System (MIHS), Dignity St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, and the District Medical Group (DMG) marks a historic opportunity for each to offer more training opportunities for excellent residencies and fellowships as well as high-level training for nurses and other allied health professionals.

Now the second stage of the collaboration is underway as the groups work together to integrate processes, standardize salaries and benefits for its residents and generally provide a robust infrastructure to support a strong formula for successful, innovative training.

“This unique partnership gives us the ability to train more health professionals in innovative ways,” said Jacqueline Chadwick, MD, executive director of the Alliance. “The Alliance provides its partners with the academic and clinical mixture to prepare the health care workforce for the future.”

An Alliance website is currently being reworked to allow applicants to search for all residency and fellowship opportunities at St. Joseph’s and MIHS for the 2019 application cycle. The goal is that students searching for a residency can find all the programs offered by St. Joseph’s and MIHS on the Alliance webpages.

With two designated institutional officials (one in Phoenix and one at Creighton in Omaha) staying on top of accreditation standards for each residency program, graduate medical education offered by each institution is at the beginning stage of transformation.

Joann Porter, MD, the designated institutional official from Creighton University’s School of Medicine, noted the work by faculty and program directors to merge programs is “important and difficult.”

“All the programs benefit from the contribution of best practices, talented leaders and premium learners from each of the sites,” she said. “This enhances our constant process improvement for our residency and fellowship programs and will accelerate our goal of becoming some of the best residencies/fellowships in the country.”

Although the residency programs themselves are under the sponsorship of Creighton University, the original plan to have all residents employed by Creighton in July 2018 has been postponed a year. The Alliance is moving forward on other aspects of the plan for integration while the liability insurance coverage issue is being addressed.

In the past year, the Alliance Board of Directors, which is made up of representatives of Alliance partners, authorized the hiring of Chadwick as the group’s executive director. In October, she also was named vice provost of Creighton University’s School of Medicine Phoenix Regional Campus. Three other staff members have been brought on and the hiring of two more is close to being done. Jonathan Higuera is the Alliance’s new communications strategist; Blanca DeJesus is serving as Chadwick’s executive assistant; and Erica Brown (former director of academic affairs at St. Joseph’s) is the new director of operations. The search for a lead technologist is getting close to a final hire.

Plans for other academic affairs staff to move to Creighton University as the common employer are being thoughtfully reviewed. The administrative work for the academic and medical education offices at partner institutions will continue, however current employees may have opportunities to do other types of jobs within the Alliance as additional support systems are developed.

The Alliance also has submitted the paperwork to be recognized as a nonprofit organization.

On the logistics side, the Alliance has found temporary office space and is preparing to move into the office early next year. The offices are at the Fairmont Building at 4001 N. Third Street, Suite 290. Those offices are currently being refreshed with new paint, carpet and furniture.