Bolstering the patient’s experience has long been a key consideration for hospital leaders. But it’s been pushed closer to the forefront by health care reform and the tying of federal reimbursement dollars to patient satisfaction. With that backdrop, Rush University, Chicago, this past fall started offering a required graduate-level health system management course focused solely on the patient experience. Francis Fullam, assistant professor in Rush University’s College of Health Sciences and course co-director, describes why school officials felt the new course was important.

What signaled to the university that it needed to create a course like this?

FULLAM: Rush and its staff have known for some time that this is a topic of growing interest and concern. It was just a matter of time until it became its own course. It’s been introduced and been part of other courses at Rush, but the time had come when all the elements came together. People graduating now and entering the field really did need to know something about various aspects of the patient experience, regardless of where they were going after they graduated, whether they would be working in a hospital, consulting or going for another degree. There was enough information and enough had gelled in the health care field that this is really an essential part of knowledge.

Why is this type of offering not more prevalent in the field?

FULLAM: I think it will be now. People will see the value and the necessity of putting this together in a full course, as opposed to a lecture or part of a course. … With our students going into this new environment, this is a long-term thing they all would have to know. It’ll be changing pretty quickly, but at least they’re starting off with this fundamental knowledge, and they’ll be able to track it over time.