CU Anschutz expands health care education through MOOCs

New online courses range from newborn health to palliative care
Community, Healing, Innovation, Progress

Already a respected leader in health care education throughout the region, CU Anschutz Medical Campus is expanding its reach to improve health care on a global scale through a series of new massive open online courses (MOOCs). Five new MOOCs have recently launched, bringing the total of CU Anschutz MOOCs to seven. 

Dr. Jay Lemery, CU Anschutz

Jay Lemery

Jay Lemery, associate professor of emergency, and wilderness and environmental medicine, explained that the expansion came about by demand. Coursera, the platform that hosts several of CU’s courses, sought to expand its reach in health care and CU Anschutz answered the call.

“We’re going to try to be an innovator in the field and take advantage of this huge growth opportunity,” Lemery said. “This is the future. As the cost of education goes up and barriers to access go down, we’re in the middle of it, helping define it.”

F. Amos Bailey

F. Amos Bailey

Palliative Care: It's not Just Hospice Anymore – led by F. Amos Bailey, professor of internal medicine – launched in November. It’s the first offering of its kind from CU Anschutz.

“This program is designed to provide primary palliative care education to all health care providers in the USA but also around the world,” Bailey explained. “The course explains the many domains of suffering, communication skills, ways to ease pain and non-pain symptoms and how to ease psychological, social and spiritual distress.” 

The course benefits nurses, physicians, pharmacist, social workers, spiritual-care providers and others working with individuals and their families living with serious and life-limiting illness, Bailey said. “Patients and families benefit from the content as they learn to advocate for themselves.”

“The Palliative Care Team is a group of true professionals passionately dedicated to their work. They have developed a warm, empathic, and well-delivered series of courses that have received very high reviews in beta-testing,” said Jill Lester, CU system MOOCs Initiative Program manager. “Their learners range from health care professionals to caretakers working with patients facing end-of-life.”

Whitney Barrett

Whitney Barrett

Also launched is an emergency medical training, Become an EMT, led by Whitney Barrett, assistant professor of emergency medicine. The emergency medicine specialization offers practical content that prepares learners to become EMTs. Jaimie Henthorn, director of digital education and engagement, said working with the EMT team to prepare the courses was exhilarating.

“These faculty and paramedics are putting content online that can be directly utilized by learners to act at first responders or, in the US, to qualify to sit for the EMT certification exam. Each video, each lesson, each course created offers information and training that has the potential to save lives,” Henthorn said.    

Dan Nicklas

Dan Nicklas

On Jan. 17, a specialization on creating healthy learning environments and promoting child health through school and community partnerships, offered by Dan Nicklas, assistant professor of pediatrics, launched through Coursera. The School Health – Key Components for Establishing Healthy Learning Environments Specialization targets health professionals working with school-aged children. The course is accessible to those with limited health care training and educational staff who interact with children on a daily basis.

Laura Wiley

Laura Wiley

Beneficiaries would be primary care providers – such as, pediatricians, family medicine doctors, pediatric nurse practitioners, pediatric physician assistants – as well as other health professionals, such as school nurses, school counselors, school social workers and school psychologists.

Other CU Anschutz courses and specializations that went online Jan. 17 include Newborn Baby Care, led by Nicklas, and Clinical Data Science, by Laura Wiley, assistant professor in the Colorado School of Public Health. This latter specialization uses real-world health care and pharmaceutical contexts and challenges to prepare learners for the scenarios they face as clinical data scientists.

Lemery said a large part of the benefit of the courses is not only the reach across the globe, but across the campuses.

“It’s breaking down barriers. It’s a cross-disciplinary endeavor,” he said. “You think about health care, we know it’s a growing sector of the economy and the projections say it will remain so for 10 or 20 years.”

The access to this expansive and free-or-low-cost learning is imperative as we advance as a global society and to fill the demand for access.

“Being able to train a competent work force cheaply, efficiently, conveniently is something we’re all invested it,” Lemery said. “In that regard I think we’re in a very strong position because we have great connection with these online drivers of Silicon Valley. It’s a real partnership.”