Salus University

Salus University

Monday, June 16, 2014

It's been an eventful few days both for me personally and for Salus.  On Friday we were honored and privileged to have Dr. Harvey Rubin from the University of Pennsylvania speak to us about his non-profit called Energize the Chain (EtC) (http://energizethechain.org ).  As most of you may remember, EtC’s mission is to eradicate vaccine preventable deaths worldwide by making effective vaccines as accessible as global cell phone coverage.  It's a pretty neat story that encapsulates creative thinking, entrepreneurship, public health and a sincere desire to improve the health of millions of children worldwide and a great way to kick off our Salus Time and Salus Lecture Series!  What's even more exciting is Dr. Rubin's invitation for us to participate in this wonderful project.  When you think about what we can bring to the project with all of our specialities, Salus participation can really enhance what is already an extremely successful international, life-changing initiative.  

I'd like for us to rethink how we currently conduct humanitarian health engagement and outreach. Currently we do it in silos.  Optometry does their thing (SOSH), Audiology does their thing, etc.   I would very much like us to think and execute outside our normal, comfortable models and think like an integrated health system.  It's time for SOSH to evolve into SHSH (Students Health Services to Humanity).  I'm challenging everyone to get on board with this so when Dr. Rubin calls me in a couple of weeks I can tell him how Salus is ready to bring all of our health science professions to the fight!  Just think where this can lead.  On a more personal note, I want to thank Dr. O for getting all this organized and to everyone for braving the rain and attending this very special event.

On a more personal note, I had the privilege of presenting my experiences during Operation Tomodachi (the response to the 2011 Japanese earthquake, tsunami and radiological emergency) to a special NATO working group addressing the effects of exposure to low level radiation earlier today in Bethesda.  For those who don't know, when I was in the Navy serving as the United States Pacific Command Surgeon I was responsible for the Department of Defense's medical response to Operation Tomodachi.   I explained the operational challenges we had and discussed the solutions to many of those challanges that we encoutered such as developing water standards, whether or not to distribute preventitive medications such as potasium iodide to our over 68,000 beneficiaries living within the area at risk or having people shelter in place.  I also discussed the development of a registry that we determined was necessary from a public health perspective to continually track all those who may have been exposed to even the lowest, within normal limits, radiation levels.  Today that registry has over 75,000 people enrolled.  It was a fascinating discussion that I'd be happy to share with our university community at any time.  

Thursday, May 29, 2014

I want to direct this entry to our students and faculty.  Several months ago the University's President Council (all of our VP's acting as our executive steering committee) determined, based on input from faculty and students, that there was no one time when we could realistically get the university community together to do scholarly functions, allow our student government association to do their work, or just provide a forum for the exchange of information.   Out of this void, "Salus Time" was born.  I will be the very first to admit that the concept as first presented was rather "squishy" but the intent was clear - setting aside time for us to communicate and come together as a university community.  While organizationally, we didn't get our act together in time to meet the original start date of early this month, thanks to the efforts of many folks we now do have a start date and that is June 13th.  

It was our desire to have the first Salus Time be a very special event.  In fact, it will be.  The only problem is that we had to adjust the orginal time from 1-3 to 3-5 because that's when our world-class speaker was available.  So, who might that be?  We've been extremly lucky to secure Dr. Harvey Rubin from the University of Pennsylvania who will speak to us about his involvement in founding the non-profit called Energize the Chain (EtC) (http://energizethechain.org ).  EtC’s mission is to eradicate vaccine preventable deaths worldwide by making effective vaccines as accessible as global cell phone coverage.  It's a pretty neat story that encapsulates creative thinking, entrepreneurship, public health and a sincere desire to improve the health of millions of children worldwide.  

So, I realize we're asking folks to change their schedules but I promise you it will be worth it!  I also promise you that we'll do much better in the future as we plan Salus Times so everyone knows what's happening.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

I want to congratulate all of today's graduates and their families.  We were extremely fortunate to have the acting U.S. Surgeon General, RADM Boris Lushniak, as our guest speaker, placing Salus on the national stage.   What especially resonated with me were his comments on health and wellness and the importance of caring for our patients as a whole, not just from the perspective of our specific specialty areas.  This is so very consistent with our ethos at Salus - to provide patient centric, integrated care to all of our patients.  Paraphrasing, he also reminded our graduates that today they should be starting to write a new chapter in their book of life's experiences, challenging everyone to make that book exciting, adventuresome, meaningful and interesting to read many years from now.  He encouraged us to take risks, to care and in the words of FDR, "Do something.  If it works, do more of it.  If it doesn't, do something else."  He also asked for our help in motivating people to keep moving, get regular exercise and to quit smoking.  It was truly a memorable afternoon;  smiling faces of our graduates and their families and pearls of wisdom from RADM Lushniak our acting U.S. Surgeon General.  Thanks to all who helped to make this a very special day!

Monday, May 19, 2014

I've been in this wonderful position for about a year and this week I get to participate in my first multi-disciplinary commencement exercise (I had the honor to graduate our PA's last Fall).  What an honor!  As I reflect on this first year, without a doubt one of the most rewarding aspects of being president of Salus has been interacting with our wonderful students and faculty.  So for this Blog entry I want to take a few moments to thank our world-class faculty for the time and energy you all put into making Salus programs the absolute best in the world.  And to our fantastic students - as you prepare to graduate this week, thank you for your willingness to learn, explore new ideas and your intellectual honesty as you've pursued your specific degrees.  

You are now ready to take your place in today's complex healthcare delivery world.  You're extremely well-prepared and have all the necessary tools to be successful clinicians, therapists and educators.  You know how to cure and now, more than ever, you must always remember to care.  

On behalf of all of us at Salus, we wish each and every one of you the very best of luck (you really won't need that) as  you begin your new professional careers. 

You are now part of the Salus DNA;  while many of us will come and go as the years pass, Salus will ALWAYS be your academic home and alma mater.  Please remember to look back every once in a while to maintain your ties to where your professional careers began.   I'm looking forward to shaking your hands on commencement day!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Having just returned from a trip to Singapore, China and Korea not only am I a bit jet-lagged but I'm also filled with many ideas on how we can capitalize on the great expertise we have at Salus to assist our Asian colleagues in advancing their professions.  In Korea, for instance, there was a great deal of interest in both our optometry and occupational therapy programs. Optometry and occupational therapy is not practiced to the same level it is in the U.S. and those countries don't currently have the educational system in place to facilitate that.  We have been extremely successful in bolstering optometric education in Europe, Israel, Scandinavia and Singapore by providing a master's level course in optometric practice.  This has enabled these providers to practice at a much higher level than their legacy training provided them, which was often at the baccalaureate level.  We can do the same thing in Korea and potentially in China.  I think these countries offer us opportunities to, once again, lead the way in increasing the scope of practice by providing a solid educational base to build upon.  One other thought I'd like for all of you to ponder.  While I was overseas I thought about the interprofessional education we're providing and the interdisciplinary practice opportunities many of our students are afforded through their externships and other clinical rotations.  It may be time we start thinking about tweaking our international outreach model from one of a single profession to one that provides multidisciplinary care, thus leveraging all those great experiences our students are getting.  SOSH, for instance may evolve into SHSH - Student's Health Services to Humanity.  Why not?  We work in an integrated health system so why not practice it?  Think about it.  Salus students, I solicit your comments on this!  More to come......

Saturday, April 26, 2014

It's been a while since I've last posted and I really don't have any good excuses.  I'm currently traveling in Asia discussing how Salus programs can help to expand the health science professions in countries such as Singapore, China and Korea.  It's been extremely educational for me to see, first hand, how some of the professions we train and really take for granted in the U.S. are practiced and regulated in Asia.  Optometry, as we know it, is a fledgling profession in all of these locations with many variations of the profession practiced, often without any regulation or quality measures.  What was extremely gratifying to me was that those providers who had successfully completed Salus courses and programs designed for non-U.S. based clinicians were enabling those providers to practice with significantly enhanced clinical competence that has led to an increased scope of practice in their countries.  Clearly, as we have done in Europe over the past 20+ years, Salus (previously PCO) is changing the way optometry and potentially other professions are practiced throughout the world.  While we won't change things overnight, I firmly believe our efforts, combined with the development of requirements from the host nation's professional organizations we're partnering with, will improve the quality and efficiency of health care delivery worldwide.  What makes this even more gratifying are that these efforts and subsequent successes are very much in concert with our ethos and mission to protect and enhance health and well-being through education, research, patient care and community services worldwide.  We're doing that now!  

When I travel and see how healthcare is delivered in Asia I feel extremely grateful for the system we have in the United States.  While not perfect, by any means, our philosophy of leveraging professions such as optometry, audiology, physician assistants, occupational therapy, speech and language pathology as primary care entry points into our healthcare system provides a relatively efficient and effective method of assuring access to quality care for most patients.  While still not perfect there are significant advantages to the way we practice these professions in the U.S.   

This week we'll explore even more ways we can help others leverage Salus programs to improve their healthcare systems and provide quality care where necessary.  It's extremely exciting to be part of a team that can do so much!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

It's not often one gets to meet an individual who has significantly influenced the way a profession is practiced, let alone help to invent a device that literally has changed millions of lives, but I had that very honor yesterday when I had to pleasure to spend time with Dr. Robert Morrison.  Dr. Morrison is a 1948 graduate of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry.  During the course of his very unique and successful career, Dr. Morrison helped to shape the way optometry and ophthalmology are practiced globally.   You may ask what were his accomplishments and why haven't I ever heard of him?  I'll address the what first.  Dr. Morrison, working with scientists in Czechoslovakia helped to develop what is today's modern soft contact lens.  As a young provider, Dr. Morrison had a keen interest in corneal physiology and contact lenses.  He was a pioneer in the fitting of PMMA lenses and did early research in orthokeratology that helped inform today's body of knowledge.  He also was a leader in the visual treatment of keratoconus, using toric contact lenses to help improve vision.  When he learned of a new polymer (HEMA gel) that was developed in Europe, he worked closely with chemists to perfect the optical quality of the material so it could later be employed as soft contact lenses.  

Always innovative and creative, Dr. Morrison didn't stop there, but he worked to develop toric soft lens designs and was the first to use what we call a "piggyback" lens, a soft contact lens with a rigid lens over it, to correct keratoconic patients.    Bausch and Lomb ultimately purchased the patent for the soft lens and as they say, the rest is history.  Throughout his very illustrious career, Dr. Morrison was called upon by royalty in Europe, movie stars, politicians and others to address their unique visual needs.  An avid tennis player, he managed to weave his love of tennis and eye care together often forging lasting friendships that have served both optometry and ophthalmology well.  He is very humble about all of his accomplishments, thus the reason many have not heard of him.


We've got a copy of his biography in our library and I would encourage our students to read it.  It's not often one person leaves a legacy of innovation, creativity and professional achievement.  Dr. Robert Morrison has done the optometric and ophthalmological professions and the patients we serve a great service and we all owe him a debt of gratitude.