Posted by William Nunnelley on 2004-05-05

Health care education and service in the region will get a big boost from an innovative program announced May 5 by two of Birmingham's leading institutions.

Samford University and Baptist Health System announced the formation of the Samford University/Baptist Health System Institute for Health Care Quality to provide medical residencies, research opportunities, continuing education and post-licensure training for health care professionals and hospital workers. Samford and BHS officials expect the institute to strengthen Birmingham's position as a major educational center for health education.

Samford President Thomas E. Corts and BHS President Beth O'Brien announced the joint venture, similar to hospital-university models at Wake Forest University-North Carolina Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C, the George Washington University-Hospital in Washington, D.C., and Drexel University-Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia.

The new institute will focus on health care professionals in the BHS system and throughout the region, as well as students in Samford's pharmacy, nursing, nurse anesthetist, premedical studies and sports medicine programs. The institute will draw on BHS's clinical capabilities and Samford's educational resources, including the schools of nursing, pharmacy, divinity and law.

Samford and BHS will jointly recruit a leader for the institute from the medical field. The person will hold the title of president and the rank of professor of health sciences at Samford and chief quality officer at BHS. The position will require an M.D.

Corts and O'Brien said institute programs would be developed and implemented within the next several months.

"We are bringing together our resources in learning strategies to offer the best possible education and training for health care professionals," said Corts. "It's a strategic alignment that will provide continuous learning for medical professionals, students and health care personnel."

"Baptist Health System's partnership with Samford brings the complementary strengths of two respected faith-based organizations to the overall benefit of students, medical professionals and the community," said O'Brien.

The alliance also will benefit the public, O'Brien noted, by providing quality training for the health care professionals who serve the region. BHS facilities alone serve more than 71,000 hospital patients annually, and the institute's impact will reach beyond just those served directly by BHS.

"Health care education and training is a continuous process," O'Brien said. "It does not end the moment one receives a diploma or certificate. Samford's strong academic reputation will serve the interests of BHS and the public through the expert level of training that can be offered through the new institute."

The institute will encompass the 78 physician residents at BHS, continuing education for physicians and nurses, and orientation and quality training for health care workers. The institute will relate to Samford health care-related programs that include 475 pharmacy students, 243 nursing students, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist program that admits 15 students a year, approximately 100 undergraduate premedical students and other fields of study such as divinity, with its ethical and pastoral care training, and law, including health care legal issues and compliance.

Of Samford's 4,400 students, approximately 1,100 are in health care-related fields, or about one-fourth of its student body. Corts noted that Samford historically has trained many Baptist missionaries who provide health care services around the world. In addition, missionaries could return to the U.S. periodically for training and continuing education opportunities provided by the institute.

"Baptist Health System is committed to quality health care and we are confident that the education and training we can offer, drawing on all the human and material resources of Samford, will yield a great benefit to our hospitals and the community," said O'Brien.

"Continuous learning is directly related to continuous quality improvement," said Corts. "Bringing the latest educational strategies to the clinical setting will be mutual enrichment."

The new institute continues a long-time relationship between the two Baptist entities. Samford's Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing began at Birmingham's Baptist Hospital and is named for the hospital's long-time director of nursing, Ida Vines Moffett.

Baptist Health System, Alabama's largest health care system, includes 10 hospitals, approximately 9,000 employees, seven skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes, nine senior housing locations, eight home care programs and 10 fitness centers--all within Alabama. Occupational medicine, managed care and senior membership programs are among the diverse components in the system. Its primary care network consists of more than 100 physicians in more than 50 locations.

Samford, with 4,440 students, is Alabama's largest private university or college. It offers 23 degree programs through eight component colleges--arts and sciences, business, divinity, education and professional studies, law, nursing, performing arts, and pharmacy. Founded in 1841, it is the nation's 87th oldest university or college.


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.