MHPE program celebrates grads, students, faculty in ceremony

Tuesday evenings, at least for some Campbell University Medical School master’s degree students, won’t ever be the same.

These are the graduating students of the school’s Master of Health Professions Education online program. Eight MHPE students received diplomas on Jan. 5, the culmination of the two-year cohort.

First-year MHPE Primary Champions Fellowship program students, 12 in all, also were honored during the ceremony on the campus in the Leon Levine Hall of Medical Sciences, home to the Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine. The two cohorts are composed of DOs, MDs and physician assistants.

Each of the students and attending faculty held a microphone and addressed their friends and colleagues, lauding, oftentimes emotionally, the inventive program as well their new family. All are now equipped with new skills to take to their practices, their communities.

The novel MHPE program, the only one of its kind in North Carolina, offers clinicians of all disciplines a master’s degree focused on leadership, change management, curriculum design and teaching skills. A strength of the MHPE program is a diverse faculty, including the medical school, College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences, School of Education & Human Science and School of Business.

“It’s heartwarming to see each and every one of you, from different backgrounds, to be part of this,” said Dr. Brian Kessler, Medical School dean and chief academic officer. “I’m very proud of your accomplishments and will continue to champion these efforts.”

Learning from learners, he said.

“And I’m still learning.”

The MHPE faculty includes Dr. Kristina Natt och Dag, an adjunct professor and course director. The MHPE program, she said, was her “absolute favorite.”

“Everyone in the cohort has had an impact on me,” she said.

Each graduating and first-year student completed a project, on topics such as leadership, hypertension management, improving screening of veterans for toxin exposure, improving readmission rates in a rural solo family practice and improving obesity care in a rural solo family practice.

All of it impressive work, said Dr. Victoria Kaprielian, associate dean for Faculty Development and Medical Education and MHPE program director.  Kaprielian was singled out among students for her dedication, leadership and teaching skills.

Quite firmly, she deflected the praise.

“It’s not about me,” she said.

The students, Kaprielian says, were the focus, and they will continue to be.

Still, appreciation and gratitude for the faculty, university and Medical School, burned bright. From the fourth-floor room in Tracey F. Smith Hall of Nursing & Health Sciences and across the country via a livestream.

Dr. Scott Menard, driving from someplace to somewhere, looked into a camera and smiled wide. Menard, a physician in Florida, focused his fellowship project on improving patient satisfaction at a rural Federally Qualified Health Center.

“I’m very grateful for this program and for everything I can utilize in my practice,” Menard said from his car. “

Dr. Heber Watson, who graduated from the MHPE program, is the Family Medicine program director at Conway Medical Center in South Carolina. His project was called improving in-training exam performance of family medicine residents.

“I have learned more in the past two years, applied directly to my job, than I would have ever thought I would be able to do,” Watson said.

“I’m so appreciative of the training I’ve been able to receive. Thank you so much for pushing us, for critiquing us,” he said, looking toward Kaprielian. “Whenever I go through anything the residents put together, I am thinking, ‘What would Vickie say?’”

Dr. Marie-Luise Zaldivar is a family medicine physician in Smithfield who also graduated Jan. 5. She targeted her project, fittingly, toward improving readmission rates in a rural solo family practice.

“All the practices, everything I learned, was applied,” she said. “It wasn’t hard, because it was so exciting.”

Tuesday evenings, though, looking at a screen yet still surrounded by friends and colleagues — family — won’t ever be the same.