MAILED: Sept. 29, 2005
EAU CLAIRE — The health care administration program at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has received accreditation from the National Association of Boards of Examiners of Long Term Care Administrators for the first time in the program’s nearly 30-year history. The UW-Eau Claire program is now one of only five NAB-accredited colleges and universities in the country.
“We’re thrilled that the examiners confirmed what we already knew to be true — that our health care administration program provides students with an education that exceeds national standards,” said Jennifer Johs-Artisensi, assistant professor of the health care administration program. “Graduates of our program are highly qualified professionals who are prepared to be leaders and managers in this ever expanding field.”
In its site visit report, examiners agreed, stating that UW-Eau Claire’s program “equips the learner as a decision maker and critical thinker who is knowledgeable in aging issues, government regulations and institutional residents.” The report also notes that graduates routinely pass the NAB National Examination with above average scores.
“The health care administration program at UW-Eau Claire is an educationally sound program that demands the best of its students; has a strong 50-week practicum, which is comprehensive in scope; its graduates are in demand in the tri-state area; and graduates are trained decision makers and not technicians who have memorized a text,” the report states.
UW-Eau Claire’s program is attracting top students thanks in part to its creation of the Center for Health and Aging Services Excellence, which brings health care professionals together with faculty and students in various ways. With private dollars and grant funds gained through CHASE, the program funds student scholarships, student research, practicum stipends, leadership training and various initiatives.
Through CHASE, the health and aging services administration community is deeply involved in the program, the site visit report notes. “The CHASE board of directors is a superior group of long-term care leaders who actively work … to help improve and expand the program, making curriculum reviews and improvements. They are key to keeping the program relevant to the changing needs of long-term care,” examiners found.
CHASE is a model for establishing partnerships with practicing professionals and experts in the field to strengthen an academic program, Dr. Douglas Olson, associate professor of health care administration said, noting that UW-Eau Claire’s program is among the only programs of its kind in the country that is growing.
“We have 140 majors and graduate certificate students and two faculty members,” Olson said. “It works in part because we use the expertise of the professionals in the field to design and support an exceptional learning environment for students. Programs elsewhere are struggling to attract students and we’re to a point where we might have to start turning good students away.”
Reviewers encouraged Olson to use CHASE to help fund an additional faculty member, eliminating the need to turn qualified students away. Bringing even more students into the program is important because nationally there’s a shortage of people going into the health care administration field, Olson said. And as the baby boomer generation ages, having qualified people in place to help care for them is more important than ever, he said.
“We need our best and brightest students to recognize that taking care of our parents and grandparents is a noble profession,” Olson said. “We need people who are prepared to make the dramatic changes that are going to be necessary to provide the care that’s going to be demanded by the aging baby boomers across a broad range of service settings. A lot has to happen in a short amount of time and we need bright young people to help make it happen.”
Given its success, CHASE is serving as a model for other health care administration programs across the country, Olson said, adding that faculty and students have been invited to make presentations at regional and national conferences and other events.
“People in the field know what we’re doing and they like it,” Olson said. “We’re a small program with limited resources so we had to be creative to improve our educational approach and grow. The results have been phenomenal.”