Leadership does not begin in the workforce — so why should higher education ignore leadership efforts in healthcare? North Carolina’s Salem College seeks to address this education gap with a new focus on women’s leadership in the global health ecosystem. As one of the oldest women’s liberal arts colleges in the United States, Salem College recently announced its intention to become the first liberal arts institution dedicated to preparing the next generation of female leaders in health.
Calling the new campaign “a newly transformed academic model and undergraduate experience,” Salem College will offer new curricular and co-curricular components starting in Fall of 2021. The campaign involves three new health-oriented majors (Health Sciences, Health Humanities, and Health Advocacy and Humanitarian Systems) along with women’s leadership development programs.
Salem’s new programming offers renewed core liberal arts curriculum, internship and service-learning opportunities for women in healthcare, and more. Unlike traditional pre-med or healthcare focused programs, the Salem College experience will be an immersion program in health leadership, putting the power of healthcare leadership in the hands of a new generation of female healthcare professionals.
“Leadership doesn’t begin in the office or the workforce; it’s something that must be fostered and developed during the undergraduate experience,” says Sarah L. Berga, M.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University of Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Salem Academy and College Board of Trustees. “As we enter a post-COVID world, it’s critical that we foster a new generation and network of women prepared to catalyze progress among the myriad of intersecting health issues. I couldn’t be more excited to see the positive impact that both Salem College and its future alumnae will have on the health trajectory of individuals and the world.”
An exciting factor of this new programming can be found in the concentrations available to Health Advocacy and Humanitarian Systems majors. Students may concentrate in Health Advocacy and Leadership in Domestic or Global Contexts, offering a new approach to the future of the healthcare ecosystem.
In layman’s terms, this means that women graduating from Salem College with degrees in this concentration will find seats at the table when it comes to creating, shaping, and changing the policies and systems that impact global healthcare.
Advocacy is a growing field with intense repercussions — how many women have lost access to critical healthcare simply because a doctor dismissed her concerns or symptoms? Alternatively, how many women and girls around the world do not have access to healthcare due to lack of information, roadblocks in supply and demand, and economic factors?
The new programming at Salem College represents a hopeful future for women in healthcare: Not just as medical practitioners, but as policymakers, advocates, and leaders.
“We need more women leaders across virtually every sector, but particularly within the larger health landscape – spanning healthcare, health policy, advocacy, education, and law – it’s absolutely critical that we begin to close the gap between the high number of women professionals and the low number of women in leadership and decision-making positions,” says Lucy Rose, Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees at Salem Academy and College. Rose is also a former Executive at the FDA and a Global Healthcare Consultant.
“Over the past several years, we’ve seen a steady increase both in the demand for health professionals and in student interest across these fields,” she says. “For a well-established women’s college like Salem, the time has never been better to launch a reimagined liberal arts experience designed specifically to address these leadership gaps, at the community, national, and global levels, and prepare these women for burgeoning careers across the health spectrum.”
Salem College has already been a leader in women’s medical development. Since 2010, students graduating from the Natural Sciences or Mathematics Departments have achieved an 89.6% acceptance rate to health science-related programs, including dental, graduate research, medical, occupational therapy, osteopathic medical, pharmacy, physician assistant, and physical therapy schools.
“The new educational model not only aligns with the college’s strong history in preparing women for graduate and professional school in health-related careers, but is also rooted in extensive research and planning,” the school announced in its February 24th press release. “[The program] comes in direct response to several critical trends: a growing interest from prospective students in health and more purpose driven education, continued job growth in health-related fields, and the crucial need to fill the gap of women leaders across the entire health ecosystem.”
As for the future of Salem College? It can be summed up well by the College’s Interim President, Susan Henking, Ph.D. “As an institution that has prepared women to lead and engage in the challenges of their time for 250 years, Salem is eager to once again be at the forefront of driving transformational change for the world.”
To learn more about the new program offerings, visit Salem College’s website at www.salem.edu/apply. Supporters and future applicants can also like the College on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/salemcollege, and follow along on Instagram and Twitter at @SalemCollege.
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