According to the SA Works 2018 Jobs Report, the number of healthcare related jobs in the San Antonio- New Braunfels area increased by 8,758 over the last five years, with this trend expected to continue into the next decade and beyond. Matching this trend, UTSA students are demonstrating a high degree of interest in these professions, as evidenced, for example, in the steep growth in the last five years in the number of public health and other health-related undergraduate degrees awarded and applications to health-related doctoral programs.
Modern health careers require a transdisciplinary understanding of the numerous biological, psychological, demographic, social and environmental factors impacting the health of individuals and their communities. In our region particularly, there are substantial health disparities in health care access, service utilization and outcomes, which underscore the need to transdisciplinary approaches as well as highlights the role of public policy to positively impact community health - to address such complex, multifactorial problems as obesity, diabetes, and opioid use, to name just a few.
Currently health-related and pre-professional programs at UTSA have limited visibility, are distributed across 3+ colleges, and are split and/or buried in disciplinary-based departments. While this organizational model offers a strong disciplinary grounding, it is out of step with current population health care models. Better alignment and synergy among the health-related programs could make these programs more visible, easier for students to navigate, and better prepare our students for the multidisciplinary, modern healthcare setting.
Federal agencies, particularly the NIH, the largest external supporter of health related research, is awarding a greater percentage of funding to larger transdisciplinary teams studying multi-faceted problems. For faculty, an aligned, focused college structure addressing health-related issues grounded in community will support greater multidisciplinary research efforts at the interface of fundamental and translational science.
Furthermore, with the rich network of community partners, UTSA stands to accelerate collaborative work, for greater benefit to our students, faculty, the San Antonio community, and beyond. The launch of President Eighmy’s Downtown Initiative has laid the groundwork to expand and maximize strategic, win-win partnerships between UTSA, including all of our campuses, and community organizations, such as businesses, government, non-profits, and other institutions of higher education. Example opportunities include partnerships to expand health-related internship and career opportunities for our students, plus research partnerships to yield increased extramural support and greater public benefit.
To convene the academic community to consider how to improve the alignment of UTSA’s human health related programs, a Human Health Planning Advisory Task Force was launched on November 14th, 2018. The Advisory Task Force includes broad representation from across campus, as well as leadership from key external partners. The UTSA Chair is Dr. Margo DelliCarpini, Dean, College of Education & Human Development, and the partner co-chair is Dr. Melissa Valerio, Regional Dean, UT School of Public Health San Antonio Regional Campus.
The charge by the Provost to the Advisory Task Force is to survey the landscape of UTSA student interests, regional workforce needs and partnering opportunities, plus multidisciplinary research opportunities related to human health; and to recommend a college organizational structure that aligns health-related programs to enhance student success, career readiness, and partnering opportunities, transdisciplinary research, and funding competitiveness.
Task Force members are assigned to one of the following three subcommittees to gather and review data and information in each topic area. Each subcommittee will provide a brief reports on their findings to the rest of the task force and Provost. These reports will be posted on this site when completed. The subcommittees will address the following topics: a) Internal Outreach by reviewing the landscape of existing human health related programs at UTSA, including data on enrollment, student success, and career outcomes; b) External Outreach by exploring potential opportunities to partner with organizations in the San Antonio area to enhance both student success and research excellence in human health related fields; and c) Best Practices by examining varying organizational structures at peer institutions.
Task Force members then will be reassembled and assigned to three new “Design” Committees, each tasked with developing a proposed new college organizational structure, utilizing the information gained by the first phase subcommittees. This parallel process is designed to foster creative divergent thinking and innovative new models for consideration.
The reports and other products from the committees will be posted. Forums also will be held to discuss the organizational models proposed by the Advisory Task Force to inform decision making.
The Task Force is charged with thinking creatively and explore multiple organizational models, and the recommended models must be:
Please feel free to submit questions or input to the Human Health Task Force.
EXTERNAL PARTNER CO-CHAIR