South Florida Hospital News
Tuesday September 29, 2020
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July 2008 - Volume 5 - Issue 1
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HPD Research Day Serves as Essential Educational Enhancement

There’s no denying the fact that research is one of the key components that propels a university’s growth and increases its stature in the academic world, which explains why Nova Southeastern University (NSU) and its Health Professions Division (HPD) have placed increased emphasis on research in recent years. On April 25, 2008, after several years of careful planning, the Health Professions Division reached a significant milestone when it held its inaugural HPD Research Day, which attracted an estimated 1,700 attendees to the Signature Grand in Davie and featured over 100 poster and platform presentations.

The seeds of Research Day first germinated several years ago when faculty members from NSU’s College of Dental Medicine and College of Osteopathic Medicine (NSU-COM) separately approached Patrick Hardigan, Ph.D., about showcasing their colleges’ research projects. "After this occurred, I went to see Dr. Fred Lippman, who is chancellor of the Health Professions Division, to ask him what he thought of the idea of coordinating a research day that included participation from all six HPD colleges," said Dr. Hardigan, who serves as HPD executive director of assessment, evaluation, and faculty development. "He said, ‘It sounds like a good idea, so why don’t you do some planning?’ I then got together with all the research deans from each college and pitched the idea, which was unanimously accepted."

Initial Research Day planning began in 2006, which included setting aside a day in the spring of 2008 that would be included in the curricula of all HPD colleges and forming a multidisciplinary committee that featured representation from each college. Next on the agenda was the monumental task of coordinating a complex array of tasks that ranged from programming and logistics to fundraising. Not surprisingly, the College of Osteopathic Medicine played an integral role in the event, with Drs. Gabriel Suciu from the Master of Public Health Program and M. Isabel Fernandez from the Behavioral Health Promotion Program serving as mentors for all COM projects displayed or presented during Research Day. In all, NSU-COM students and faculty members contributed 12 oral and 12 poster presentations to the event.

Although Dr. Hardigan categorized the inaugural event as a resounding success, he already envisions some enhancements he hopes to make by the time the next HPD Research Day event rolls around on February 12, 2010. "There were so many unknowns considering we had never done this before," Dr. Hardigan said. "In 2010, my goals are to incorporate more of a thematic approach, ensure better integration of students, and improve crowd control."

Because most health professionals hope to become clinicians once they complete their various educational requirements, Kathleen Hagen, who serves as HPD director of faculty development, sees added value in the implementation of such a vital research event. "Most students are working toward becoming clinicians, but if they have a chance to learn about this other area they can get into and broaden their horizons, I hope we can play a role in nurturing a new generation of researchers," she explained. "They just need the exposure to see how it’s done and how to pursue the research path if that’s something that interests them."

Dr. Hardigan says Research Day is a win-win situation for all involved because it also "helps us promote our research by presenting what the faculty does and showing it to the students. Many of our students go to class and leave without understanding that what they’re being taught is also what many of the faculty members are doing in the HPD labs, which is staying up to date in their own research," he said. "Research Day serves as a perfect venue to address this, which is something we’re really happy about. There are not enough physicians doing research today, especially D.O.s, so if we could inspire some of our students to pursue a research career, that would be a great outcome. If even one or two students gain an interest in doing research based on what they learned during Research Day, we’ve accomplished our mission."

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