Health Care Delivery

You can’t say that it is completely unexpected, given Kim’s consistent advocacy on this issue. If any initiative is right up his alley, then it’s this one. Altogether, in addition to the policy improvements it will hopefully yield, this new Center for Health Care Delivery Science could make Dartmouth more of a national and global name in education and research. That’s a great thing.

Kim’s announcement is certainly very exciting, and it suggests that Kim does have a style that is big and bold. He coordinated the announcement with an op-ed in today’s Washington Post. He badly wants Dartmouth at the head of the national discourse on health care. In a lot of ways, this flows nicely with an advantage that Dartmouth already has: the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care has been making news throughout the health care debate, and between the Med School’s solid reputation and the resources of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, “health care delivery science” is a niche that Dartmouth can rapidly fill.
The College’s press release contained a quote from Ed Haldeman that suggested this won’t be the first big initiative we see coming out of the Kim administration:

The Trustees and I fully expect that this is the first of a number of initiatives Dartmouth will launch in the coming years. This spring President Kim and Provost Folt are launching a strategic planning process that will identify other initiatives that build upon Dartmouth’s many strengths.

I hope so, because as exciting as this new initiative is, and as big an issue as health care delivery is, it’s still a niche issue not tailored to an undergraduate institution. Undergrads in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities will appreciate the massive public policy ramifications, but our education won’t be defined by Kim’s new center.
In addition to the master’s degree in health care delivery science that is planned to start enrolling students in July 2011, Kim said in the press release and on the new Center’s website that the College is also going to put forward undergraduate offerings in the field. As long as it’s a few courses, that sounds great. But there have been rumors floating among faculty members for months now that Kim might be interested in introducing a “Health Care Delivery” major, a move that would seriously compromise the College’s core liberal arts mission by focusing undergraduates on a very narrow field of public policy/medicine.
So for now, optimism. As pertains to undergrads, it will be extremely interesting to wait and see what moves the College makes to integrate this new center with undergraduate education.