The COVID-19 pandemic changed the world in 2020. It exposed strengths and weaknesses in the U.S. healthcare system as well as opportunities to transcend caregiving obstacles using technology. At Salus, traditional healthcare instruction shifted to online learning in only two days at the start of the pandemic and training future healthcare professionals to practice telehealth effectively became a top priority. In fact, telehealth education was the main focus of the most recent University Faculty Development Day held online Dec. 22.

Salus faculty attending event
The virtual event, which usually takes place in-person twice a year, featured an in-depth presentation by Dr. Ragan DuBose-Morris, associate professor and director of the Office for Telehealth Education at the Medical University of South Carolina. She discussed topics surrounding the growth of telehealth such as the pandemic’s impact on the industry and educational goals from both academic and clinical perspectives. Salus department chairs, deans and program directors also presented how telehealth has offered new ways of diagnosing, treating and communicating with patients from their respective clinical practices as well as emerging needs to continue to provide virtual healthcare services post pandemic.

Presenter Dr. Ragan DuBose-Morris
About 30 minutes of breakaway sessions followed the presentation allowing faculty to participate in group assignments based on a case presentation by Dr. Dubose-Morris. Tasked with developing one learning activity for students to explore telehealth through the lens of a diabetic patient, faculty members met in virtual breakout rooms to brainstorm. Final presentations outlined learning objectives, required resources and learning activities specific to each program of study.

Provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, Barry Eckert, PhD, welcomed new faculty to the Salus community along with Donna Agnew, MSPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA, Physician Assistant Studies (PA) program director, and Melissa Trego, OD ‘04, Resident ’09, PhD, dean of the University’s Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO).

Dr. Barry Eckert
President Michael Mittelman, OD ‘80, MPH, MBA, FAAO, FACHE, concluded the event with University updates and the “Return to Learn” initiative, requiring all students, laboratory and clinical educators, clinical staff and security officers to be tested for COVID-19 prior to their return to campus or clinical facilities following winter break. He continued to thank the entire University community for their patience and dedication throughout a year filled with uncertainties, reminding everyone that the coronavirus vaccine will bring new hope in the new year.

President Dr. Michael Mittelman
While the pandemic meant a lot of cancelations in 2020, teaching, learning and scholarship continued at an impressive rate, as evidenced by the outstanding scholarly achievements of Salus faculty. Research papers and posters were published and featured in notable journals and healthcare events worldwide.