Friday, February 16, 2024

Addressing Our Spiritual Health: Week of February 16, 2024


Dear Students, Faculty, Residents, Staff, Alumni, Board Members and Friends,

Good morning on this bright, crisp, windy morning in Elkins Park. I just returned from attending the annual meeting of the Society of Federal Healthcare Professionals in Maryland where I had the opportunity to listen and participate in discussions with our nation’s federal healthcare leaders. I took the liberty of discussing one presentation, in particular, from Dr. Vivek Murthy, the Surgeon General of the United States, in my Final Thoughts section that I thought we would all benefit from. While I was gone our campus has remained busy and vital between classes, labs and clinical activity. One distressing piece of news to note is the mass shooting in Kansas City, which has put a bit of a damper on things as we mourn the loss of a young lady and all those people, mostly adolescents, who were wounded during this senseless act of gun violence. It needs to stop!

Here are some other, certainly more uplifting things, I hope you will find of interest:

SALUS LOVE STORY: It started off with a toque and ended up with Akirta Sran, OD ‘20, and Brendan Connors, OD ‘20, getting married backwards and without a ring. And along the way, four attempted marriage proposals got delayed on account of rain, just to add another level of uniqueness to a love story that started at Salus University. Read more about this unique wedding tale by clicking here.

SLP CAREER OFF TO A GOOD START: In only seven months since graduating from Salus University’s Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) program, Sultana Abdur-Raheem, MS ‘23, has begun to form a budding career as a speech-language pathologist. Click here to read more about how her career is progressing.

PROGRAM SPOTLIGHT — O&P: An aspect unique to the Salus University Orthotics and Prosthetics (O&P) program is the integrated 18-month clinical residency, where students are immersed in O&P clinical practice and research. Not all graduate O&P programs include an integrated residency, which sets the Salus program apart. Read more here.

PTE CHAPTER RECOGNIZED: This past January, the University’s Delta Mu chapter of Phi Theta Epsilon (PTE), the national honor society for occupational therapy (OT) education, was recognized in the national PTE “Scroll & Pen” newsletter for scholarly work. Click here for details.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Earlier this week, while attending the annual meeting of the Society of Federal Health Professionals, I had the opportunity to hear US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy discuss the importance of spirituality. In addition to physical and mental health, he suggests it is equally -- or some would suggest, more important to pay attention to our spiritual health. Dr. Murthy breaks down spiritual health into four areas: belonging, purpose, awe and inspiration, and service.

We are in the middle of a loneliness epidemic. Across multiple college visits, Dr. Murthy has found a very high percentage of today’s college students who report being lonely most of the time. While people congregate together, very few feel a sense of belonging, which he attributes to excessive social media, smartphone and other technologies that can isolate people, even when they are physically around others. Belonging to groups, clubs, or other ways of doing things in groups helps to mitigate some of the situations that can cause loneliness.

Closely connected to this is feeling a sense of purpose in life. It can be as simple as routinely participating at a soup kitchen to working to solve civic issues in one’s community. The third aspect of spirituality is awe and inspiration. This can be elicited by walking in nature taking in the beauty of the surrounding landscape. The fourth, and possibly one of the most important facets of spirituality, is that of service, doing something for others. Volunteering to help with setting up a party, assisting friends or siblings through hard times are examples of acts of service. Service can be closely related to purpose, which is defined by The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley as “an abiding intention to achieve a long-term goal that is both personally meaningful and makes a positive mark on the world.” Serving as a healthcare provider certainly would check both boxes, as would many other professional and social endeavors that enable us to actively participate in causes larger than ourselves.

Whether we realize it or not, feelings of tiredness, stress and even occasional hopelessness and despair are understandable due to classes, schedules, exams, family challenges, our merger and conflicts happening around the world. By paying attention to and nurturing spirituality, we can better manage our feelings and concentrate on what’s most important to each of us individually.

If you want to learn more about the importance of spirituality, I encourage you to check out Dr. Murthy’s recent “House Calls” where he discusses this in-depth with Dr. Lisa Miller, a psychologist who has worked on this for many years.

As you prepare for this weekend, I encourage you to think about Dr. Murthy’s advice and how you might begin to incorporate some of his ideas into your daily routines. Be safe, continue to look out for one another and remain SALUS STRONG!

- Mike

Friday, February 9, 2024

Remembering Black History Month: Week of February 9, 2024


Dear Students, Faculty, Residents, Staff, Alumni, Board Members and Friends,

Greetings on this beautiful February morning from our Elkins Park campus. It’s been another busy week -- welcoming our Drexel colleagues to our beautiful facilities to show them our programs and to mix, mingle and talk about our combined future. Special thanks to our deans and program directors, admissions, student life and student ambassadors, Kristen Dittrich and Jennifer Brown in Academic Affairs, TLS, LRC, facilities, security, housekeeping, and dining services staff for organizing and supporting this event. Here are some other items that I hope you will find interest in:

ALL THINGS SLP: In our latest podcast, we discuss all things clinical for the Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) program at Salus University with Taylor Evans, office manager for the Speech-Language Institute, Robert Serianni, MS, CCC-SLP, chair and program director of the SLP department, and Kara Maharay, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S, director of clinical education for the SLP department. Click here for details.

YOUNG AUD ALUMNI: Make sure to check out this interesting and informative question and answer session with one of our young alumni from the Doctor of Audiology program, Payton Burke, AuD ‘21. For more, click here.

STUDENT ADVISORY BOARD: Raman Badh ‘26OD, a second-year student at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus University, is one of 18 current optometry students from across the country named to the Women in Optometry student advisory board. She has been enthusiastic about immersing herself in clinical experiences this semester to further develop her skills in delivering quality eye care. Women In Optometry (WO) is an online publication that targets the fast-growing female OD segment. It caters to women ODs’ professional informational needs with one key distinction: articles are written from the uniquely female perspective.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Since 1976, February has been designated Black History Month, providing an opportunity to learn, reflect and acknowledge the accomplishments of Black Americans. While there is much rich history to explore, I am always drawn to the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen. This group of highly talented and motivated Black pilots, who trained at several, segregated, Black only, Tuskegee, Alabama airfields, was assigned to multiple escort and bomber squadrons throughout World War II. Eventually, they combined into a single squadron, the 332nd Fighter Group in Europe. Their primary mission was to escort bombing missions over Germany and other occupied territory in Europe and Africa. They earned the reputation of being among the best fighter pilots the Army Air Corps (predecessor to the U.S. Air Force) had with multiple commendation awards along the way.

It wasn’t until 1947, under President Truman, that the Army Air Corps and later the entire U.S. military was integrated. We’ve come a long way since then. In 1940 Benjamin Oliver Davis Sr, a former Tuskegee Airman, became the first Black American general officer in the U.S. Army and later served in the U.S. Air Force. Since then, there have been many others. Colin Powell became the first Black Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1989 and Secretary of State for President George W. Bush in 2001. General Lloyd Austin became the first Black Secretary of Defense in 2021. Vice Admiral Samuel Gravely was selected as the first Black Navy Admiral in 1971. He retired as a Vice-Admiral several years later. In 2022, Gen. Michael E. Langley became the first Black four-star in Marine history. Most are unaware that the Tuskegee Airmen have a presence in Philadelphia, with an office at Enon Tabernacle East (2800 Cheltenham Ave.). You may visit this link to find out more about the local chapter and visiting the office.

As you prepare for the weekend, please take time to reflect on the contributions and accomplishments of Black soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines throughout history. They all have played a role in preserving the freedoms we all enjoy today. Be safe, continue to look out for one another and remain SALUS STRONG!

- Mike

Friday, February 2, 2024

Placing Quality and Safety Above Profitability: Week of February 2, 2024


Dear Students, Faculty, Residents, Staff, Alumni, Board Members and Friends,

Good morning on this first Friday in February, Groundhog Day! It appears that Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow so we should have an early Spring! We’ll see!

It’s been an extremely busy week on campus as we hosted our all-volunteer Board of Trustees for their annual and quarterly meetings, held a Community Meeting to discuss what we’ve learned about the merger with Drexel to date with faculty and staff and shared similar information with our student leaders. In addition to all that, our classes, clinics and labs have remained busy and productive. Here are some additional items I hope you will find of interest:

MYTH BUSTERS: Hear from Salus University faculty across academic programs as they bust common, program-specific healthcare myths. Read about these common healthcare myths here.

BLVS PODCAST: Blindness and Low Vision Studies (BLVS) alumni Katelyn (Kate) Maffei, MEd ‘21, TVI, VRT, and Kinshasa Coghill, MS ‘02, CLVT, CVRT, OMS, and current student Carolyn Pijanowski, '24VRT, '24O&M, share what a day in the life of a BLVS professional looks like, in addition to giving a sneak peak into Salus University’s programs. Check out the podcast here.

DAY IN THE LIFE: Follow second-year Occupational Therapy student Madison DeLong ‘24OT through a day in her life on her level 2 fieldwork rotation. Read more about Madison’s day here.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I recently read an article in the New York Times that discussed how the change in corporate culture at Boeing from one of quality, safety and superior aircraft design to attaining maximum profitability has had a significant impact on what was their stellar reputation for safety. It prompted me to reflect on the American healthcare system, which has been leaning in this direction for many years.

As healthcare institutions across the country placed more emphasis on productivity by counting Relative Value Units (RVUs) and Diagnosis-Related Groups (DRGs), the focus on quality declined as cost and productivity became key drivers. Unquestionably, both cost and productivity are important factors in any business, but just like Boeing, the healthcare industry has a sacred responsibility to those in our care to ensure that quality and safety are the primary measures of success.

As students preparing to enter the American (and in some cases Canadian) healthcare systems, you have an opportunity to help introduce a change in culture. Our Oath to Professionalism states that, “I will uphold and honorably promote by example and action the highest standards, ethics and ideals of my chosen profession.” Providing high quality and safe care clearly falls within that charge.

Healthcare should be value based – meaning our patients and clients should always expect high quality, safe care at a reasonable price. Outcomes should drive ultimate costs. While significant discussion has surrounded this method of remuneration, there is little to show in execution. If quality and safety are first, improved health outcomes should follow. Providing healthcare with a profit-only focus leads to reduced health outcomes, dissatisfied patients, clients and providers.

As you prepare for this weekend, please think about how you will influence our healthcare systems to return to a quality, safety and value-based system. Today’s disjointed, expensive and embarrassingly ineffective system is not sustainable. 

Be safe, continue to look out for one another and come back SALUS STRONG next week!

- Mike

Friday, January 26, 2024

Continuing Our Advocacy for You: Week of January 26, 2024


Dear Students, Faculty, Residents, Staff, Alumni, Board Members and Friends,

Good morning from Drexel University where I continue to learn more about the College of Nursing and Health Professions as well as help to educate the folks here about all the great things we do at Salus. I had the opportunity to attend on Tuesday with Dr. Chad Duncan and Beth Moy the Hanger Foundation’s inaugural Night to Inspire event in Nashville. Hanger, the largest provider of orthotics and prosthetics in the country, hosts many of our O&P students at their sites. It was amazing to learn about the wonderful opportunities that the foundation is providing for children through their support of Camp No Limits, whose mission is to “empower young people with limb loss or difference to discover and develop a healthy, happy, and independent lifestyle.” Hats off to Dr. Duncan and our O&P staff for fostering such an important relationship. Here are some other items I hope you will find interesting:

TOP JOBS: Several of Salus University’s academic programs secured top spots in the U.S. News and World Report’s 2024 Best Jobs and Top Healthcare Jobs rankings. Read more about where our program professions ranked here.

DAY IN THE LIFE: Have you ever wondered what a typical day looks like for a first-year Speech-Language Pathology student at Salus? Read more about Haley Tevnan’s ‘25SLP typical day here.

THIS WEEK’S TECH TUESDAY: Jacalyn Harris, MPO, CPO/L, and Virginia Muthard, CPO/L, FAAOP, tell us about one of their favorite pieces of O&P equipment: the cast saw. Click here to watch and here to see more in the series.

FINAL THOUGHTS: As we begin this new year and our merger with Drexel comes closer to becoming a reality for all of us, I want our faculty and staff to know that I and members of the President’s Council are listening to your concerns, and to the best of our abilities, we are continuing to advocate for you with our colleagues at Drexel. We are also keeping our Board of Trustees informed.

I know that we have not been able to provide you with all the answers to your questions, especially as they pertain to certain aspects of compensation and benefits. But all of us, including our Drexel colleagues, share an unwavering commitment to fair and open collaboration on these issues. To that end, we will be inviting various Drexel leaders to campus to discuss, both generally and individually, how changes may affect you. I hope to provide specific dates during our upcoming Community Meeting next week in addition to some more answers as we progress.

I realize it’s difficult to plan and maintain a positive outlook without having this important information, and I empathize with you. You have my commitment to continue to answer your questions as quickly as possible in the weeks ahead.

To our students, our continuing commitment to your education remains a driving motivation underpinning this merger. I remain extremely excited about the opportunities Drexel will provide you, our faculty and staff moving forward. I look forward to spending time with our Student Council leaders early next week to share efforts to date and to answer your questions.

As you prepare for this weekend, know that the Salus leadership continues to be actively engaged on your behalf. Together we are SALUS STRONG!

- Mike

Friday, January 19, 2024

Salus Weekly Update: Week of January 19, 2024


Dear Students, Faculty, Residents, Staff, Alumni, Board Members and Friends,

Greetings on this snowy morning as most of us work virtually from home. Even with the snow earlier in this short week, it’s been busy on campus between classes, labs and clinics all going full speed. It’s amazing how these shorter weeks often feel like they are really long!

As we prepare for today’s snow, here are some items that I hope will be of interest to you:

OPTOMETRY CAREER FAIR: The Bennett Career Services Center is hosting a Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) Career Fair on Sunday, January 21, from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Hafter Student Community Center. Network with nearly 50 employers to learn about several career options for future graduates. Click here to register.

LEARN MORE ABOUT DR. O’SULLIVAN: Gerard (Gerry) O’Sullivan, PhD, joined the Salus University family in March of 2023 as interim provost and vice president of Academic Affairs (VPAA) after the retirement of Dr. Barry Eckert. Learn more about Dr. O’Sullivan’s expertise in higher education, and how it benefits Salus in his current role as provost and VPAA here.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW: While studying Kinesiology at the University of Maryland, Max Manson’s, MS ‘19, paper on focal hand dystonia led Mason to learn about sensory rehabilitation and learning braille to try and alleviate symptoms of the condition in the fingers. That helped his decision to enroll in the Vision Rehabilitation Therapy program within the Blindness and Low Vision Studies Department at Salus University. Learn more about Max’s career journey here.

FINAL THOUGHTS: As we close out this week that started and ended with a snowfall I thought it appropriate to end this week’s update with a few pictures from Tuesday and this morning of our beautiful campus. Wishing everyone a safe and restful weekend. Please be careful when venturing out as not only will it be very icy, but temperatures will also be extremely cold. We want everyone back next week SALUS STRONG!

- Mike

Friday, January 12, 2024

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Week of January 12, 2024


Dear Students, Faculty, Residents, Staff, Board Members and Friends,

Greetings from Drexel University where, as co-chair of the Drexel-Salus Integration Council, I am spending a couple of days a week to facilitate a smooth integration ahead of final approval from the U.S. Department of Education. Everyone I have met has been excited about the possibilities for innovation, interprofessional education and the development of pipelines into our programs. In addition to this, here are some other things I hope you will find of interest:

FACULTY RECOGNITION: Two members of our esteemed faculty have recently been recognized with outstanding honors:
  • Jennifer Bergstrom, EdD, CCC-SLP, assistant professor in the Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) program at Salus, began her term as the vice president (VP) of finance for the United States Society of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (USSAAC) on January 1. USSAAC is an organization dedicated to supporting the needs and rights of people who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Read more about her new position here.
  • Chad Duncan, PhD, CRC, CPO, director of the Orthotics and Prosthetics (O&P) program at Salus, has been named to the Fulbright Specialist Roster for a tenure of three years. As a member of the roster, Dr. Duncan is now eligible to be matched with projects designed by host institutions in more than 150 countries globally during his tenure. Read more about the honor here.
I CHOSE SALUS: Early clinical exposure and interprofessional learning are integral program components at Salus University and are why Brittany Cullen ‘27AUD, chose to pursue Audiology here. Learn more about why Brittany chose Salus.

THIS WEEK’S TECH TUESDAY: Marisa Guardino '24MSOT tells us about her favorite pieces of occupational therapy equipment for pediatric fine motor skills. Click here to watch and see more in the series.

FINAL THOUGHTS: On Monday our nation will celebrate the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Righteousness, equality, justice, and nonviolence are key tenets of the American civil rights movement he led. How might we, as healthcare providers, educators and researchers emulate and apply these principles?

As I have in year’s past, I encourage you to take seventeen minutes to watch Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. While we have all heard parts of it, I suspect many have never listened to the entire speech. My hope is that you experience something far greater than the momentary satisfaction of social media.

To honor Dr. King, let me share several quotes that reflect what I believe we do at Salus and that our Drexel colleagues also embody: 

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”

Our Salus community is a tapestry of different backgrounds and cultures. Together, we bring our diverse strengths, thoughts and actions to impact the future of healthcare, education, research and professional practice. Salus and Drexel’s shared commitment to community service not only ties our universities together, it is a distinguishing hallmark of which we can both be proud.

Monday’s holiday is the only national holiday designated as a Day of Service to encourage all to improve their communities as a tribute to Dr. King. Dr. King lived his life serving others through his actions and words. As Dr. King said, “Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others. Let’s try to live that adage in these turbulent times.

As you prepare for the weekend, try to reflect of some of Dr. King’s lessons and work to employ those lessons in your daily interactions with your patients, clients, family members and friends. Be safe, continue to look out for one another and come back on Tuesday SALUS STRONG!


Friday, January 5, 2024

The Importance of Our Constitution: Week of January 5, 2024


Dear Students, Faculty, Residents, Staff, Alumni, Board Members and Friends,

Happy New Year! We’re excited to welcome everyone back to campus for our Spring Semester. It’s going to be an exciting year as we continue preparations for our merger with Drexel. Here are some things that I hope you will find of interest:

FIRST FLOOR SOUTH RIBBON CUTTING: We are excited to officially unveil our renovated first floor south student lounge and cafe spaces with a ceremonial ribbon cutting. Join us in the first floor south area on January 9 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to celebrate. Lunch and giveaways will be provided. RSVP for the ribbon cutting here.

REMEMBERING DR. ALGERNON PHILLIPS: Algernon Phillips, OD ‘69, MD, a trailblazer for the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus University’s commitment to global service, passed away on December 29, 2023. Dr. Phillips founded PCO’s Student Optometric Service to Humanity (SOSH) chapter and paved the way for the global healthcare impact PCO/Salus maintains today. Dr Phillips and his family have been a part of our PCO/Salus family for many years. The entire Salus community sends our condolences to Dr. Phillips’ family and friends and thanks him for his tremendous impact on the University.

DISCOVERING CAREERS IN BLVS: Hear from Blindness and Low Vision Studies (BLVS) alumni Katelyn (Kate) Maffei, MEd ‘21, TVI, VRT, and Kinshasa Coghill, MS ‘02, CLVT, CVRT, OMS, and current student Carolyn Pijanowski '24VRT, '24O&M, on how they discovered the BLVS profession, and why people from all backgrounds should consider the BLVS field. Read more about their journeys here.

OPTOMETRY CAREER FAIR: The Bennett Career Services Center is hosting a Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) Career Fair on Saturday, January 21, 2024, from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Hafter Student Community Center. All PCO students are invited to attend. Click here to register. 

NORTHEAST REGIONAL ADVISORS FOR THE HEALTH PROFESSIONS: Today, we are thrilled to welcome representatives from the Northeast Regional Advisors for Health Professions where we have the opportunity to showcase all of our programs to over 80 participants as well as local regional colleagues. 

YOUNG ALUMNI: Hear from one of our young alumni, Abigail Possinger, AuD ‘22, about her journey into the audiology profession, and her experience at Salus University’s Osborne College of Audiology. Read about her experience here

FINAL THOUGHTS: Earlier this week, newly elected Montgomery County Commissioners and Row Officers affirmed their oaths of office. The public ceremony marked a number of historic firsts: 
  • Jamila Winder is the first African American woman to Chair the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners;
  • Neil Makija, the first Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) to be elected County Commissioner, has also been named Chair of Montgomery County’s Board of Elections;
  • Dr. Janine Darby is the first African American woman to be elected County Coroner;
  • Tina Lawson is the first African American woman to be elected County Register of Wills.
It was exciting to attend this historic event! What struck me most was that in taking their oaths of office, each official vowed to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth. Our elected leaders don’t pledge loyalty to a person or governmental agency, but rather to the Constitution, one of our nation’s founding documents that delineates our rights as individuals and defines the separation and balance of power among our three governing branches.

As we begin this new year, it’s important for all of us to remember that the basis for our democracy originates from the Constitution. I encourage you to learn more about the Constitution as we enter what will be a consequential election year.

Our students return to campus next week and faculty and staff are preparing for their arrival. Take this last weekend to recharge and come back SALUS STRONG! This is going to be an exciting and eventful year for all of us!

Finally, it’s been almost two years since we’ve had any significant snow around here. It appears this we might experience at least a minor snowfall over the weekend. Please pay attention to weather reports and be careful when out and about. Have a great weekend!