Grant Funds New Medical Degree Programs an Ocean Apart

Thanks to a University of Michigan partnership, a first-of-its kind master’s program in India stands poised to introduce that country’s first-ever entirely domestically-trained scholar-teachers in Health Professions Education.

Dr. Larry Gruppen (2nd from left) and colleagues from the U-M India partnership.

Maharashtra University’s Master of Health Professions Education (MHPE) degree program recently accepted its initial cohort of students. Meanwhile, the University of Michigan's own MHPE is set to graduate its first students in the coming months. The 2012 Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative grant that fostered the development of both allowed for travel and collaboration for the two universities to develop the programs jointly on opposite sides of the globe.

At U-M, the degree is a fitting addition to the already robust education programs offered within the Medical School. But in India, the degree marks a first-of-its kind in the country and a major milestone in advanced medical education and training.

“In a country of well over one billion people, there were only a handful of individuals with this training. And all of them obtained that education outside of India,” said Larry Gruppen, PhD and Professor of Learning Health Sciences at U-M Medical School, and the Principal Investigator from the U-M team.

“India’s health environment is still very much  in development, with a huge need for well-trained physicians and medical professionals who can teach and share expertise with their colleagues,” he said.

Maharashtra University’s new program will soon begin filling that need. Like its sister platform at U-M, it will give participants – all health professionals who already hold advanced degrees – insights into student learning processes as they hone their skills as educators, educational leaders, researchers, and scholars in health professions education. The program is for professionals in medicine, dentistry, nursing and other health fields, and Maharashtra University makes the program available nationally through partnerships with faculty members in a number of medical schools across India.

Maharashtra University launched its programming with a cohort of seven initial students in 2015 and expects to welcome the first graduates in 2017. Dr. Payal Bansal, Professor and head of the Institute of Medical Education Technology and Teachers Training at Maharashtra, was Dr. Gruppen’s counterpart on the India side of the joint project. She said the program will help India build up its healthcare infrastructure to meet the needs of the future.

“A key innovation in the Master’s degree program is that, even though it was developed jointly with an international partner,  the program has the flexibility to adapt to the needs of our local and national context,” Dr. Bansal said. “The globalization of education and healthcare, and India's potential to emerge as a destination for quality education and healthcare, has brought this issue into sharper focus. Advanced faculty training in education is thus the need of the hour.”