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Health Systems Science Academy

In 2016, the Health Systems Science Office designed and launched the Health Systems Science Academy (HSSA), a year-long professional development program for Penn State Health faculty and staff to develop skills in HSS. The longitudinal professional development program aims to 1) improve the HSS and teaching skills of educators and 2) to advance clinical practice and health outcomes for the patients and populations served by Penn State Health.

Learn more about health systems science at the College of Medicine.

The Health Systems Science Academy runs from September through May.

Apply now

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About HSSA

HSSA Program Objectives Expand answer
  • Inspire and educate clinician-scholars in the field of health systems science including population health, health care policy, clinical informatics, value-based care, health system improvement, and healthcare delivery.
  • Create Academy scholars capable of leading health systems science education initiatives in undergraduate, graduate and continuing medical education.
  • Develop leaders who apply systems thinking principles to accelerate change in education and health care delivery by conceptualizing complex challenges in health care and applying innovative solutions.
  • Develop a cadre of clinician-scholars prepared to lead improvement efforts in the health system.
  • Advance clinical practice and health outcomes for the patients and populations served by Penn State Health.
Who Can Participate Expand answer

The program is intended for all those who interact with learners in the Penn State Health system and who are interested in developing a more holistic understanding of health care systems, based on principles of health systems science. Participants in the academy will include physicians, nurses, advanced practice clinicians, quality professionals, residents, fellows and students.

Priority will be given to applicants who have a desire to gain a deeper understanding of the vital components and their relatedness necessary for organizational excellence in health care delivery and a commitment to developing programs to enhance education in health systems science.

Program Faculty Expand answer

Faculty will be experienced educators and health care leaders. Health systems leaders, with specific domain expertise, will partner with program faculty in mentoring the participants.

Curriculum Expand answer

The curriculum will span a six-month period between October and March and will include two key components:

  • Face-to-face learning sessions
  • A longitudinal mentored project

Course sessions will be held on two to four Friday afternoons per month from 12:30 to 2:30PM.  The course seeks to provide participation with experiential learning opportunities in an environment that fosters interprofessional team skills, curiosity, systems thinking and a commitment to enhancing education and improving our systems of care.

The curriculum will integrate knowledge in the six domains of health systems science:

  • Population and public health
  • Health care policy, economics and management
  • Clinical informatics and health information technology
  • Value-based care
  • Health system improvement
  • Health care delivery structures and processes

The mentored project will align and reflect the needs of patients, populations and the health system. Incorporated throughout the curriculum are activities targeted at educating in the cross-cutting domains of Teamwork, Scholarship, Leadership and Change Agency.

Program Benefits Expand answer

Upon program completion, scholars will have:

  • An educational work product that is relevant to solving a specific gap, need or challenge identified in their own division or department
  • Systems thinking and organizational learning competencies
  • The ability to act locally while thinking globally in the organization of the future
  • Improved awareness of and responsiveness to the larger system of health care
  • The tools necessary to make clinical and educational changes important in a modern health care environment
  • Developed the ability to collaborate effectively to identify and call on resources in the system to provide optimal health care
  • Learned to apply health systems science concepts to generate and implement health system improvement ideas</li >
  • Established connections with experienced faculty and professionals with proven track records in the field
Teaching Methods Expand answer

Content delivery will seek to include innovative, collaborative and transdisciplinary strategies to provide a flexible and integrated curriculum grounded in systems thinking principles.

Methods will include a variety of learning formats, group discussions, content expert presentations all bound by vignette-based problem solving exercises that address local and national challenges in health care.

Scholars will receive individualized, longitudinal mentoring in support of their self-selected projects by Woodward Center faculty, health systems content experts, and academy faculty.

It is anticipated that scholars will take an active role in their own learning and may participate as design partners in curriculum revision.

Previous HSSA Scholars Expand answer

To obtain the official Health Systems Science Scholar designation, academy scholars must meet the following requirements:

  • Attend at least 75 percent of the face-to-face learning sessions or design an out-of-class equivalent program with academy faculty
  • Complete or significantly develop a project and prepare a year-end poster for presentation

Previous graduating scholars are listed here.

Application Process Expand answer

To participate in the Health Systems Science Academy, applicants will need the following:

  • Approval from senior leader (vice president, senior vice president) or department chair and/or division chief if appropriate
  • A completed application describing interest and intent
  • Curriculum vitae

The deadline for applications is Aug. 2, 2024. Participants will be notified via email regarding acceptance into the academy.

Apply now

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