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Lake Forest College, RFU launch joint Health Professions Program

masked medical team washing hands
May 18, 2020
Linda Blaser

Lake Forest College and North Chicago-based Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science announce the launch of the innovative Health Professions Program—a distinctive partnership aimed at preparing students for future careers in high-demand health care professions.

Building on an already strong relationship between two campuses that sit just five miles apart in Lake County, IL, the new program will create a pathway for students from Lake Forest College, a highly esteemed liberal arts college, to Rosalind Franklin University, which is nationally recognized for its model of interprofessional, team-based graduate education and collaborative practice.

“The Health Professions Program will encourage our students to think outside the traditional box and explore the boundless possibilities of a future in the health care professions,” said Lake Forest College President Stephen Schutt. “Our joint-degree programs clearly lay out a curricular path through Lake Forest College and the milestones students must meet for a seamless transition into a program at Rosalind Franklin University.”

HPP students will enter a track designed specifically to prepare them for careers in a wide variety of health care fields, including allopathic medicine, podiatric medicine, pharmacy, biomedical science, physical therapy, physician assistant, pathologists’ assistant, clinical psychology, and other RFU programs. 

“Academic partnerships can help us redefine and transform health care,” said Dr. Wendy Rheault, president and CEO of Rosalind Franklin University. “The future isn’t visit- or procedure-based. It’s a lifelong quest for health and wellness. We are preparing future health professionals who can see the big picture, who can think critically, communicate clearly, change and adapt quickly. Students who are educated in the liberal arts and sciences are uniquely prepared for graduate-level training in the art of caring and the science of systems.”

Nationally, jobs in health care are projected to grow 14 percent through 2028, faster than the average for all other occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Student and professor working in lab

“Forty percent of students who enter Lake Forest College are interested in health care professions, and we hope to draw some of those students into the Health Professions Program,” Dr. Rheault said. “The grounding Lake Forest College students receive in the humanities, ethical decision-making, and social sciences will enhance their preparation for the health professions. RFU can train them in analyzing and adapting systems of care and creating new ones that improve health outcomes.”

RFU and Lake Forest College currently offer dual-degree programs in pharmacy and physical therapy. They also collaborate through the LFC-RFU Research Fellows program, which helps students enter a diverse range of STEM and health-related careers and postgraduate programs. Under the program, Lake Forest science majors can apply for paid summer research and mentoring opportunities within RFU’s basic science labs.

The two institutions are also exploring the possibility of a new joint Master of Entry to Nursing Practice Program (MENP) that the schools envision launching in the next year or two, subject to approval by the appropriate regulatory and accreditation agencies. The dual-degree nursing program would provide a direct pathway for students to earn both an undergraduate degree and a graduate-level nursing degree in five years. 

Dr. Shubhik DebBurman, Lake Forest College senior director for science partnerships, said the Health Professions Program goes beyond increasing opportunities for students.

“Few national liberal arts colleges have such a close partnership with a premier interprofessional health sciences university,” Dr. DebBurman said. “We’re expanding our relationship to help meet our nation’s health care needs.” 

More information on Lake Forest College/Rosalind Franklin University partnerships and initiatives.