Thomas Jefferson University to offer master's in health professions education to support rising interest in academia

Applications are now open for two new virtual graduate programs on health professions teaching at Thomas Jefferson University.

Starting this fall, the Jefferson College of Health Professions will offer a M.S. in health professions education and a graduate certificate in health professions teaching and learning. The programs are for those interested in furthering their academic careers or transitioning into academia.

In academic medicine, it’s common to teach with little or no formal knowledge of best teaching practices, Shruti Chandra, M.D., associate professor and program director of the fourth year at the university's Sidney Kimmel Medical College, told Fierce Healthcare. Now, however, institutions are increasingly looking for people with more experience—and healthcare professionals are also interested in obtaining it to become better leaders, she added.

“There hasn’t been a requirement for a higher degree of learning, however, the trend has become people who want to differentiate themselves want to get that higher level of education,” Chandra told Fierce Healthcare. 

The M.S. degree is a 30-credit, fully online interprofessional program designed to prepare leaders in health professions education. The university claims this to be the only program offering training for current or aspiring residency or other program leadership roles and to offer prior learning assessment credits for medical residencies and fellowships. 

“It does make it a very attractive option for residents to complete their master's during or right after their residency,” Chandra said, especially because a lot of Jefferson University residents are considering an educational role.

The graduate certificate is a 12-credit, fully online program developed for healthcare professionals working full time who want to learn evidence-based frameworks and best practices to educate the future healthcare workforce. The credits can be transferred toward the M.S. degree. 

One area where formal knowledge of best practices is especially important is in bedside teaching, where a teacher needs certain qualities to be most effective, Chandra explained. But beyond that, someone might be interested in becoming a leader, for instance, mapping assessments and outcomes for programs and ensuring competencies are being met by students. 

“You may not be in a leadership position right now, but you might find that niche that you might want to pursue as you complete your master's [degree],” Chandra said.

Beyond the general curriculum, the programs will include specializations, leveraging topics the university has expertise in, such as interprofessional education, diversity in education and education and law.

With its latest offerings, Jefferson University will now be competing with a handful of other schools nationwide that offer health professions education degrees—like Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Michigan. Locally, while other programs exist, they mostly focus on specific niches, according to Chandra, like simulation or research.

Editor's note: This story was updated to reflect that Shruti Chandra leads the fourth, not third, year at Sidney Kimmel Medical College.