Better care through collaborative training and treatment

President Drake shares vision of integrated education across health sciences disciplines

By: Emily Caldwell

President Drake meets with optometry students. Photo by Gail Martineau
President Drake meets with optometry students. Photo by Gail Martineau

As Ohio State University President Michael V. Drake concluded a recent discussion with optometry students, he congratulated them for “picking such a wonderful career.”

“You are learning something special that you can do that helps people have better lives,” said Drake, who, as an ophthalmologist, shares the group’s interest in the human eye.

Not long from now at Ohio State, optometry students and their health sciences peers will also learn an innovative way of providing care: in an integrated way, collaborating with other health care professionals.

“We are looking at more integrated education between students in the health sciences to maximize effectiveness and efficiency,” Drake said.

The integrated education model is a component of the university’s planned investments in medical and health sciences over the next several years. Ohio State recently announced proposed development of an optometry clinic and health sciences faculty office at 11th and Neil avenues as well as modern education and research space that will promote interdisciplinary work across the health sciences and beyond.

When the optometry students asked how Drake envisions the future of Ohio State’s health sciences enterprise, he said an emphasis on preventive care and early intervention will be key to mitigating disease and relieving cost pressures. And Ohio State’s breadth and depth will enable students to train in ways that lead them to think beyond their own discipline.

“We have seven health sciences colleges and a comprehensive university. We are bigger and more diverse than most other universities,” he said. “In the health sciences, we want to be able to maximize the effectiveness of students being together to solve the most perplexing problems with a uniquely wide set of perspectives.”

In a meeting with college staff members, Drake touched on the searches in progress for two key executive positions: a chancellor for the medical and health sciences enterprise who will oversee widespread infrastructure growth, including a new inpatient hospital tower and ambulatory center currently in the earliest stages of planning, and a vice president for research to succeed Caroline Whitacre, who is retiring on Dec. 31 after 36 years at Ohio State.

The holders of both positions will help see Ohio State through an exciting period of growth in clinical and research endeavors guided by a new strategic plan building upon the university’s current momentum, Drake said.

“Our aspirations are really to be the example of the best possible health sciences and health-providing, health-protecting and health-supporting university in the country,” he said.