Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Veterans Day

Today marks the 240th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. Here in Philadelphia, on November 10, 1775, the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution establishing the Continental Marines. Since that time, Marines have distinguished themselves defending our freedoms. During my 33-year Navy career I had the privilege of serving with the Marine Corps for almost one-third of that time. Tomorrow we also recognize all of our veterans as we celebrate Veterans Day.  World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of World War I.  Originally designated Armistice Day by President Wilson, November 11 commemorates the armistice that began that day. In 1954 Congress changed the name to Veterans Day to recognize all veterans. 

While I was on active duty I paid little attention to the observance of the Navy and Marine Corps birthdays and Veterans Day other than to enjoy a nice social event and a day off. Now, as a retired Navy veteran I find myself thinking of these days a bit differently. I have been reflecting on how lucky we all are to have men and women who, everyday make sacrifices to ensure we continue to enjoy the freedoms we have. They do this while being held to the highest of standards, both professionally and morally. Their core values of honor, courage and commitment have been the moral and ethical compass that has guided them for 240 years. 

As healthcare professionals we have much in common with those who serve in our armed forces.  We too have made a commitment to devote our time and energies to serve others.  Most importantly, though, as healthcare professionals we also must be guided by an ethical and moral compass – one that emulates that of our Navy and Marine Corps – that of honor, courage and commitment. 

So, as we celebrate the Marine Corps Birthday today and take time to honor our veterans tomorrow (and I hope every day) I also hope that we reflect on how we can leverage our own commitment to always conduct ourselves with honor and have the courage to always do what’s right for our patients. 

If you see someone in uniform or if you know someone who is a veteran, please take the time to thank them for their service while I thank you for your service and commitment to helping others! Semper Fi!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Trust in Talks

Webster defines trust as assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something or one in which confidence is placed.  It’s something we all strive for in relationships with our patients, colleagues, friends and loved ones.  Trust is something that is earned through honesty, deeds and commitment over time. It is also something that can quickly be diminished with a dishonest act or misdeed of some type. 

As talks of a strategic alliance with the University of the Sciences progress, possibly towards an eventual merger, there appears to be many on our staff and extended alumni family who do not trust those of us in leadership positions to make the right decision for the University. Our Board of Trustees has always looked out for the best interest of the University and, compared to other University boards that I’ve had the opportunity to observe, is head and shoulders above them in terms of dedication, participation, knowledge of the University and stewardship.  As an alumnus myself, I feel a special obligation to ensure that the quality, innovative spirit and long-term legacy of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry as well as our other programs benefit from any partnership we might develop. This is first and foremost in our minds.

I want our faculty, staff, students and alumni to know and understand your Salus leadership team is absolutely committed to moving forward with our research and due diligence discussions with the University of the Sciences. We envision great opportunities for both institutions if we can work together, but we’re not going to “pull the trigger” on any deal if it will not benefit Salus. You have my firm commitment that we will not jeopardize the University’s marquee and legacy programs.  I believe our colleagues at USciences feel the same way. 

So, as we move forward with our discussions, please trust us to remain transparent in our work, to keep you informed and to make the right decisions when the time comes. As we move forward I hope that you will provide honest feedback as we progress.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Busy Week at Salus

White Coat Ceremony- Salus University

This has been an unbelievably busy and fun week at Salus. On Monday, October 12th, 327 students from our Doctor of OptometryDoctor of Audiology, Clinical Optometry, Physician AssistantOccupational Therapy and Speech-Language Pathology degree programs celebrated the first of many professional milestones – receiving their white coats in a ceremony attended by over 1500 friends, family, staff and faculty. Symbolically and in reality, the white coat represents the beginning of the transition from layperson to healthcare professional – the hard earned rite of passage into the health sciences.

Jim Hindman
Additionally, the keynote address, delivered by Mr. James Hindman, a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist and author, provided our students and their families with a personal testament to the importance of inter-professional education. Mr. Hindman, an age-related macular degeneration patient, has experienced firsthand the devastating effects of this disease and is now dedicated to using his resources to help improve the lives of others who have this disease through philanthropy and education. Each student received his book, Was Blind, But Now I See.  Mr. Hindman left us with a quote from one of his college professors that I believe all of our students will remember, "If you reach for the stars you’ll never come out with a handful of mud." 

On Friday, Danne Ventura from Essilor was on campus to present the Essilor Optometry Bowl trophy to Nicole Rist, our senior who won this prestigious academic contest for Salus/PCO during Optometry's meeting last June.  It was a fun event acknowledging not only Nicole's accomplishment but also Essilor's commitment to optometric education. 

Concurrently, during Salus Time our College of Education and Rehabilitation presented a blindness and low vision orientation and mobility workshop for the University community. I think a high point was watching our Provost and VP of Clinical Services traverse a hallway with blinders on and a cane. It's not as easy as it looks!  I think everyone walked away from that session with a new appreciation for what it must be like to not have functional vision.  

Friday, October 2, 2015

Fall Commencement & White Coat Ceremony

White Coat Ceremony, October 2014
As we get ready to march into October, Salus is preparing to celebrate two very significant events; our Fall Commencement on October 6th and our traditional White Coat Ceremony on October 12th. Both of these ceremonies mark significant milestones in the professional careers of our students.

Our Fall Commencement always includes our Physician Assistant program graduates, but this year we're also graduating students who have completed our Master of Public Health (MPH), Doctor of Audiology Online Bridge Program and Blindness and Low Vision program. Commencement marks the transition from being a professional student to becoming a healthcare professional. Thanks to the wonderful education and training they have received at Salus, these very talented individuals will now take their place in the American healthcare system, with an eye on helping to improve how healthcare is delivered in our country.  

The White Coat Ceremony marks transition from the study of pre-clinical or undergraduate studies to clinical health sciences. This ceremony also helps to instill the fact that these new caregivers will now be held to a higher standard of behavior and must earn the trust of their patients. This year we'll be presenting over 300 white coats to students in our optometry, audiology, occupational therapy and speech-language pathology degreee programs. Additionally, we're very honored to have our first cohort of Chinese students who are here to complete a specialized master's program in clinical optometry.  

While some may think these ceremonies are time consuming and unnecessary, I believe they're extremely important for both students and their families to celebrate and reflect on these significant professional milestones. Becoming a healthcare provider requires a very special commitment to lifelong learning, caring and putting others' needs before their own. We absolutely need to recognize this and celebrate all the successes these very special people achieve along the way. 

Congratulations to our graduates and white coat recipients! 

Friday, September 11, 2015

President's Update

At meetings with our faculty, staff and alumni association president yesterday, I announced that the Boards of Trustees of Salus University and University of the Sciences in Philadelphia have agreed to discussions to consider forming a broad strategic partnership that could potentially lead to a merger of our two long-standing educational healthcare institutions.

Although discussions are very much in an exploratory phase, our respective boards recognize the potential for growth as a combined institution far exceeds what either of us can accomplish alone. There is no time table for completion of the talks.

Salus and University of the Sciences in Philadelphia offer marquee programs that, if combined under a single university, would form a health sciences university of considerable breadth and scale. As the landscape of American higher education has changed over the past few years, the boards at Salus and USciences felt it was important to consider how combining forces could strengthen health education delivery and be poised to meet the challenges of the 21st century.  Both institutions think tremendous opportunities can be gained from this potential partnership.

On behalf of the board, I am very excited about the future and the possible outcome of these discussions. We look forward to sharing additional information as talks progress.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Starting The School Year Off Right!

On behalf of the faculty, staff and Board of Trustees, I want to welcome all of our new and returning students to Salus. I’d especially like to welcome those students who represent our inaugural Speech-Language Pathology class. It's already shaping up to be a banner year at Salus as we enter our largest class ever!  

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank our great Admissions staff for getting things lined up for this success as well as orchestrating an amazing orientation program that I think everyone enjoyed a great deal. I'd especially like to thank those student and faculty volunteers who helped make this a great success.

While I mentioned this at orientation, I want to remind everyone how important it is to take care of yourself as you begin this new school year. Maintaining your health will help you stay sharp and perform at the highest levels possible. Additionally, as a healthcare professional it's important for you to set a good example for those patients you will be caring for and providing advice to. That means eating right, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep. While I realize everyone has tight schedules I want you to think about how you’re going to prioritize these things into your busy professional and student lives. I’ve done it for over 35 years so I know it’s possible. Get into those good habits now – they will be much easier to maintain later.

You're at Salus during an exciting time. We’re revising many of our curricula from which you all will reap the benefits, updating University infrastructure such as our library, classrooms, other study areas and the optometric clinical procedures lab. At times we may look like a construction zone but the end result will be well worth the slight inconveniences this may present – so please be patient with us. 

As the landscape of healthcare delivery changes, so must our mechanisms for educating future healthcare providers, councilors and educators. Whether we're teaching you how to diagnose and treat conditions such as diabetes, hypertension or hyperlipidemia, Salus is already leading the way in innovative programs through our Optometric Scholars Program and our Inter-professional Education efforts that cut across all of our specialties.  

I recently had the opportunity to attend the World Council of Optometry meeting in Medellin, Colombia along with a good number of our faculty members. What made me extremely proud was the fact that Salus was the only American school there with significant presence and all of our faculty members presented timely, relevant and excellent lectures and posters that were head and shoulders above many of the others I saw. Now, I'm not at all biased, but our folks are truly the very best and it especially showed there!  

As we move into the school year I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone the very best of luck and let you know that we're all here to help you succeed. See you around campus!

Follow me on Twitter: @SalusPresident 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Graduation Time!

Graduation is rightly a time of celebration and pride – for our students, their families, significant others and our faculty and staff. As we prepare to launch our newest group of Salus graduates I want to extend the University’s congratulations and thanks to all of our students, faculty and staff on attaining this significant accomplishment. There will be many more to follow as you mature as providers and educators.

You’ve all embarked on extremely exciting and rewarding careers. Your ability to help people improve their lives is a gift; one that needs to be cherished, honed and continually nurtured. It’s our hope and expectation that you take full advantage of all that you’ve learned during your time at Salus and apply those skills with the utmost care and sensitivity to those patients and clients you will care for. As I’ll remind you on Friday, you’ll be surrounded by all sorts of technology to “assist” you in doing your jobs. It will be important to remember that these technologies are adjuncts to assist you in finding the best ways to care for your patients and clients. Remember, to treat your patients and not the technology!

Finally, when you chose healthcare as a profession you’ve also chosen a path that requires a commitment to life-long learning. Salus will always be your academic home and I want you to think of us that way. Never stop asking questions, challenging your assumptions and sharpening your skills. We’ll all be there to help you continue to succeed. Congratulations on a job exceptionally well done – we’re all very proud of you!