GUEST EDITORIAL: IU committed to health science education in Fort Wayne

Ann Obergfell is an associate vice chancellor of academic affairs and operations at IU Fort Wayne
Dr. Fen-Lei Chang is associate dean, director of IU School of Medicine - Fort Wayne

In 1917, Indiana University made a commitment to education in northeast Indiana by establishing an extension center in Fort Wayne. That first IU experience began with 142 students and 12 courses, including nursing and education.

Now, more than 100 years later, IU continues that tradition and reaffirms its commitment to educating and training the next generations of health care professionals in the tri-state area.

As the second-largest city in Indiana and the main economic driver for the northeast region, Fort Wayne provides — and demands — opportunities in education and workforce training. The success of our area’s urban and rural communities depends on that strength, and IU is playing a key role through health sciences, medical education and workforce training along with advanced degrees in social work and nursing, bringing to the table world-class programming and expertise in these key fields.

This fall, more than 300 incoming first-year undergraduate students are expected to begin their journeys to become your next nurse, medical imaging technician, dental laboratory technician or medical specialist. In addition, more than 150 students will return to continue their professional degree tracks in nursing, medical imaging and dentistry.

The programs at IU Fort Wayne remain focused on quality health sciences education. For students, the emphasis on interprofessional and hands-on education through simulation exercises, competency-based curricula and advanced technology will create a highly qualified talent pool dedicated to providing the best care possible to our local community and beyond.

The degree on the wall of your dentist’s office most likely bears the Indiana University seal. In fact, did you know that IU Fort Wayne is home to the only dental laboratory technology program in the state and is one of only 15 accredited programs in the country?

With the only bachelor’s degree program in the field, we are creating the next generation of professional dental laboratory technicians who design and build oral appliances. So, if you wear dentures made in Indiana, there is a large possibility they were made by an IU alum.

As educators, we have developed strong partnerships with healthcare leaders like Parkview Health System and Lutheran Health Network, where our students have had — and will continue to have — the opportunity state-of-the-art and work in state-of- the-art facilities, becoming a part of the fabric of our society and advancing regional health care quality for generations to come.

The IU School of Medicine in Fort Wayne will add a class of 32 incoming medical students this fall, with an education and teaching environment that is preparing the next generation of healers for Indiana and around the globe.

And we want to build healthy communities through our IU School of Social Work, the oldest university-affiliated school of social work in the nation, dedicated to educating those who want to give hope and change lives.

IU Fort Wayne is more than just health sciences education and training. With 60 full-time undergraduate and graduate faculty and numerous staff, IU Fort Wayne is a part of everyday life. We are your neighbors, your clients, your friends and family.

The name has changed a bit. But the dedication to health sciences education and the Fort Wayne community is unwavering and steadfast.

This has been the foundation of an IU education in Fort Wayne for the last 100 years, and it will continue to be for the next 100 years to come.

Ann Obergfell is an associate vice chancellor of academic affairs and operations at IU Fort Wayne and Dr. Fen-Lei Chang is associate dean, director of IU School of Medicine – Fort Wayne.