issue Community Health 2024

Leadership Message

By Wendy Rheault, PT, PhD, FASAHP, FNAP, DipACLM
Wendy Rheault, PT, PhD, FASAHP, FNAP, DipACLM, President and CEO

Rosalind Franklin University enters 2024 with the knowledge that the trust we build can help create positive change in the communities we serve.

Health care is changing every day, powered by AI and the pairing of data with digital solutions. RFU’s mission to improve the wellness of all people through innovative, interprofessional education (IPE) of health and biomedical professionals places us at the nexus of that change. By fulfilling our mission through trusted partnerships, we can help usher in a future of sustained health and well-being.

RFU is preparing future professionals who will thrive in dynamic learning and care environments; clinicians who will work in teams to design innovative approaches to patient-centered care; and biomedical researchers who will collaborate across disciplines to discover new ways to improve health and longevity. Our graduates are in demand.

Employment in healthcare occupations is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2032. New kinds of jobs are being created — in telehealth, precision medicine, epigenetics and many other fields. Innovations in care delivery are already improving the experience of care for both patients and providers.

The convergence of healthcare and technology and the urgent need for more equitable models of care call for new ways of teaching, learning, engaging and practicing. We are committed to working in partnership to enhance our academic environment and meet the evolving needs of our students, our communities and the future of care.

Our College of Nursing is just one example of how collaborative effort is helping to meet the needs of our clinical partners, our communities, and our prospective and current students. Our Nursing Education to Workforce (NEW) Pathway guides students underrepresented in the profession along an educational journey to nursing careers in the Lake County region. The future nurses we’re educating today will help build health, financial security and prosperity for themselves, their families and communities.

Lake County Health Department Executive Director Mark Pfister says that “The number one thing that will make our community healthy is education.” He recently visited campus to speak with students in our Foundations for Interprofessional Practice course, which is using RFU faculty-developed video simulations to teach IP teams of students how to take the social determinants of health into account in preparing patient treatment plans.

This issue of Helix highlights other RFU educational innovations aimed at providing impactful clinical and research experiences. Our Michael Reese Research and Education Foundation Center for Health Equity Research (CHER) is connecting students to community-engaged research projects aimed at building health equity in our region. Our student-driven Interprofessional Community Clinic (ICC) is providing access to speciality services for uninsured patients — made possible through the compassionate care and support of clinical, faculty and philanthropic partners.

Change is a constant in health care — and for RFU. We have learned over the past 112 years that — guided by mutual trust and shared values — we can create the kind of change that transforms care and improves lives.

Wishing you the best of health.

Wendy Rheault, PT, PhD, FASAHP, FNAP, DipACLM
President and CEO