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IU Northwest College of Health and Human Services invited to prestigious Relationship Centered Care Immersion Conference in Indianapolis

Other attendees to include Harvard Medical School, Ohio State College of Medicine and UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine

A team of educators from the College of Health and Human Services at Indiana University Northwest will be among the participants at the acclaimed Relationship Centered Care Immersion (RCCI) Conference III in Indianapolis when it convenes this April. The conference, sponsored by faculty and administrators at the IU School of Medicine (IUSM) in Indianapolis, looks at ways to improve the professional culture of medical schools by focusing on relationship-building amongst and between administrators, faculty and students, as well as other positive organizational changes.

IUSM, which has a national reputation for helping to change the culture of medicine, aims to foster a climate of respect, appreciation and positive relationships in medical schools through its RCCI initiative, which began in 2003. This goal reflects the central purpose of health education, which is to help students, faculty and practitioners learn how to form caring, healing relationships with patients and their communities, with each other, and with themselves.

Other attendees at this year’s conference, which will be held in Indianapolis from April 29 through May 1, include: the Harvard Medical School Institute for Professional & Ethical Practice; the Ohio State University College of Medicine; the University of Kentucky College of Medicine; Aurora Health Care, in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin Medical Group; the University of California — Davis School of Medicine; the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine; the University of Virginia School of Medicine; and the Ross University School of Medicine from the Caribbean island nation of Dominica.

The College of Health and Human Services (CHHS), which consolidates IU Northwest’s nursing, allied health and social work programs into a comprehensive academic unit that also includes the IU School of Medicine—Northwest (IUSM-NW), will be the first such interdisciplinary entity to participate in the RCCI conference, which previously had included only medical schools.

“We believe this is a prestigious and competitive international selection from among the top medical schools in North America,” said Patrick Bankston, Ph.D., who is interim CHHS dean and assistant dean and director of IUSM-NW. “It furthers our goal for IU Northwest’s CHHS to be recognized as a national leader and resource in innovative collaborative health and human services education.”

The IU Northwest CHHS delegation to the RCCI conference will include: Bankston; Assistant Professor of Social Work Manoj Pardasani, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor of Nursing Susan Rouse, Ph.D., RN; and Associate Professor of Nursing Linda Delunas, Ph.D., RN. The CHHS team will be the first RCCI participant to include undergraduate faculty.

The RCCI program is built around the idea that students learn how to interact with patients, colleagues and other health professionals by observing and participating in the social environment of their medical schools. This so-called “informal curriculum” influences the way students go about developing professional and patient relationships later in their careers. The goal of the RCCI initiative is to create a social environment that reflects and reinforces in daily practice the moral, ethical, professional, and humane values that are already expressed in a medical school’s formal curriculum.

This goal complements one of the aims of CHHS at IU Northwest, which is to train doctors, nurses, social workers and other HHS professionals in an interdisciplinary setting that gives students from each discipline greater understanding and appreciation for the roles and contributions of other members of the healthcare team. That, said Delunas, is why IU Northwest applied to the prestigious RCCI conference.

“It is no secret that we need to do better in establishing a culture of understanding and respect among all members of the healthcare team to achieve the best care for our patients.” said Delunas, who also serves as faculty assistant to the chancellor at IU Northwest. “As a nurse, you don’t have to be in the profession long to understand why this is a problem. That is why we applied to send a team to Indianapolis to learn techniques that we can use in training our doctors, nurses, social workers and allied health professionals to become the best they can be in working together for patients.

“It is the conference organizers’ working hypothesis that, for us to train students who possess the best skills, values, attitudes and behaviors, the faculty must exhibit the best in those attributes themselves,” Delunas said. “Surely a lofty goal, but one worth pursuing if we expect to fulfill the words of our mission as a new CHHS to provide ‘a unique and quality interdisciplinary education that prepares ethical and competent leaders and practitioners in health policy, practice and human service.’ Because of our strong belief in educating healthcare professionals to function as members of interdisciplinary teams, and our strong belief that professionalism and collaboration must not only be encouraged but also modeled, we are excited at the possibility of participating as an interdisciplinary team in the IU School of Medicine’s Relationship-Centered Care Initiative.”

IU Northwest announced the creation of its College of Health and Human Services last summer. The new college is expected to enroll its first class in either Fall 2008 or Fall 2009.

For more information on the Relationship Centered Care Immersion Conference III, visit the website at For more information about the IU Northwest College of Health and Human Services, contact Bankston at (219) 980-6562, or e-mail him at



Media Contact:

Christopher Sheid

Michelle Searer

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Relationship Centered Care Immersion Conference

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