Good day WesternU,
The pandemic is unfolding at lightning speed with consequences across our communities, regions, states, the entire nation and, indeed, the world. Indeed, it is now a world war without armed forces.
Nearly every hour, we try to anticipate and adapt to new developments as are entities of all kind, be they educational institutions such as WesternU, health services, governmental agencies, entertainment venues, retail stores, or bars and restaurants. Though WesternU has been ahead of the curve in terms of prediction and preparation, we now as are millions – indeed billions – of others are adapting to changing events in real time.
Of pressing urgency is the status of our many students of all our colleges on clinical rotations all over the country. Our clinical students have been standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their licensed counterparts on the front lines of this challenge and have been helpful in preparing our partner hospitals and clinics for an influx of patients. Health care systems nationwide are now deploying disaster plans and crisis protocols to streamline infection control and expedite patient care. They are in it for the long haul and the decisions they make today will determine their ability to sustain services in the months ahead.
Over the weekend partner sites have suspended rotations in an accelerating and broadening manner. We must now step back and let health professionals continue efforts to reduce disease spread and preserve resources, while simultaneously ensuring the cadre of future health professionals in training stays in good health to complete studies needed to one day join their licensed counterparts.
We have consulted extensively with many partner hospitals, clinics, preceptors as well as national health care education organizations and public health agencies. We have had extensive discussions within the Board of Trustees as well as with our own Deans and senior executives.
Effective immediately, all WesternU off-campus student clinical training assignments suspended for an initial period of two weeks.
The sole exception is for licensed pharmacy interns whose roles are categorically distinct from of all other WesternU students.
Deans will follow up with college-specific information as soon as possible. We intend to notify sites quickly, sustain training in active learning status to not delay academic progress or financial aid.
Again, students, faculty, and staff are advised to practice robust hygiene and social distancing, stay home or shelter in place as much as possible, and self-quarantine for two weeks with any symptoms.
This suspension will be reviewed in an ongoing manner and will likely be extended with as much coordination as we can muster in liaisons with national associations as well as sister institutions and governmental entities other institutions and, significantly, input of WesternU Deans.
Our Deans are in constant contact with accreditors and associations to ensure that – though public health is of greatest import right now – health sciences students continue to progress toward degree completion as professionals who are needed now more than ever.
Each of our Deans is also working tirelessly with their College teams and are taking great pains to adapt including the formulation of ‘virtual’ clerkships and other modes of training. University leaders also aim, wherever possible, to minimize the effect suspended rotations could have on academic progress. The University is doing all it can internally while also urging (and expecting) those external entities that have not yet articulated modified guidelines to adapt as well.
Much is in flux. Please stay tuned to email, social media, and other WesternU platforms for updates.
I am tremendously proud of how the WesternU Family – our students, faculty, staff – demonstrate remarkable capacity, flexibility, ingenuity, and calm during this global emergency. It is said the test of one’s character is seen in a crisis response. If so, WesternU is passing with flying colors. Still, we must remain vigilant, responsive, and strong as we persevere in our mission “To teach, to heal, together”.
Stay safe, and good health to you all.
Daniel R. Wilson, MD, PhD