The Charger Blog

University’s Inaugural Doctor of Health Sciences Cohort Includes Leaders, Change Agents

Led by the University’s dedicated and experienced School of Health Sciences faculty, the innovative program focuses on educational and healthcare leadership and preparing graduates for in-demand careers in a variety of healthcare settings.

October 6, 2021

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

The University of New Haven’s inaugural Doctor of Health Sciences cohort on the steps of Echlin Hall.
The University of New Haven’s inaugural Doctor of Health Sciences cohort.

Since earning two graduate degrees from the University of New Haven, Jeffrey Gold ’93 M.S., ’94 MBA founded Blackmaple Group, a large group-purchasing aggregator serving physician’s offices. Now CEO of a company with a network of more than 15,000 clients, Gold says the name and idea came from his time at the University.

Gold has now returned to the University as a member of the inaugural cohort of its Doctor of Health Sciences (DHSc) program.

“I think anyone trying to stay at the top of their game in the field of healthcare needs to consider a DHSc or a similar program,” he said. “The lectures alone from the first month of class have been eye opening. In a very short time period, I have started to think differently as a professional and apply the new principles I have learned. I truly believe that the lessons learned will make me a more effective CEO, a better employer, and stronger business partner.”

‘I am committed to health professions education’

Designed to help candidates become leaders and change agents in a variety of healthcare settings, the program is offered in a flexible online format, enabling students to study full- or part-time. Following their preliminary coursework, students choose one of two program tracks – educational or healthcare leadership.

Students complete two summer residencies as well as a doctoral thesis that incorporates practical experience or a research or clinical project, depending on the student’s career interests and program track. As part of their thesis, students might design and develop a course, develop a quality improvement program to be implemented in their health system, or conduct a research project.

Gold’s classmate DaShawn Robinson Sr. ’21 MHA was so encouraged by the support of his professors as he earned a graduate degree at the University that he decided to pursue his doctorate. They are among the 15 students in the inaugural cohort with backgrounds in health administration, public health, health informatics, athletic training, and nursing.

“The Doctor of Health Sciences program has been carefully developed by some of the best and brightest minds in academia,” said Robinson, a principal trainer II and instructional designer for Health Services Corporation, the largest customer-owned health insurance company in the United States. “I am proud to have been accepted into the program and to be getting a chance to learn how to become a healthcare leader.”

Anthony Santella, DrPH, MCHES, COVID-19 coordinator for the University, serves as director of the Doctor of Health Sciences program. Passionate about advocacy, Dr. Santella has 20 years of experience in infectious disease prevention and control, as well as 15 years’ experience in higher education.

“I am committed to health professions education,” said Dr. Santella, who also serves as professor and interim chair of the University’s Health Administration and Policy Department. “I've led master’s programs twice in the past, and I am excited about leading our new doctoral program. I am excited to see our doctoral students work and collaborate together and with our faculty to learn and grow from each other."

The University of New Haven’s inaugural Doctor of Health Sciences cohort on the steps of Echlin Hall.
The University of New Haven’s inaugural Doctor of Health Sciences cohort.
‘Graduates of our program will help to make the world a healthier place’

One of only a dozen similar programs in the United States and one of only three in New England that offers a DHSc degree, the program is open to students of diverse academic backgrounds who have a variety of practical experiences. It is designed to help students become leaders in their health-related field – including in teaching, administration, or applied research or practice.

Because there is a national shortage of doctoral-trained health science faculty with the qualifications to teach at the master’s or doctoral level, faculty members say program graduates will be in demand.

“Our Doctor of Health Sciences program is a premier educational model, combining scholarly inquiry with crafting solutions to real-world problems,” said Karl Minges, Ph.D., MPH, interim dean of the University’s School of Health Sciences. “The DHSc program serves a unique local and regional niche to develop doctoral-prepared individuals to lead health systems and educate the future generations of healthcare providers and leaders.

“It is our vision that the graduates of our program will help to make the world a healthier place,” Dr. Minges continued. “The program is off to a tremendous start thanks to both a talented inaugural cohort and a dedicated program director in Dr. Santella.”

‘The degree program you want’

Gary Havican ’04 MBA, central region president for Hartford Healthcare, is also a candidate in the program’s inaugural cohort. He hopes to take on advanced leadership roles within the healthcare field and to offer his experiences as a mentor and instructor.

“I was proud of the fact that the University has a robust strategy for the future,” said Havican, who serves on the University’s School of Health Sciences Advisory Board. “I appreciate the diversity of my colleagues in the program. Their experiences and insights have made it rewarding and informative, and have helped me look at our industry from different perspectives.”

As part of the program, students will take a variety of interdisciplinary courses, such as “Academia for Health Professionals,” “Principles and Theories of Teaching and Learning in Health Sciences,” and “Population Health Management.”

Robinson, who aspires to become a C-suite level executive of a health system, says the courses are designed to help him and his classmates become leaders and build the skills they will need to foster change.

“Each course in the curriculum is something I am interested in learning more about and hope will be a part of my career going forward,” he said. “If anyone is interested in reaching the highest level of education that will prepare them to become leaders in a healthcare organization, academic institution, in research, or to better understand the importance of being involved in service and community engagement, the Doctor of Health Sciences at the University of New Haven is the degree program you want.”

‘The University has already launched me to the top of the industry’

Dr. Santella calls the inaugural program cohort a “standout group of practitioners, administrators, and clinicians,” and his students say they are impressed by his leadership, knowledge, and willingness to offer guidance and support.

Gold, who is “very happy to be back” at the University, is looking forward to seeing the program develop and grow. He’s also excited about what he will learn as a student and the impact he can have on his classmates and those who will follow in his footsteps.

“The University has already launched me to the top of the industry, and I am thrilled that it prepared me so well,” he said. “I expect the DHSc program to help me better understand new concepts and research methods in the field of health sciences that I will be able to apply to my companies. Ultimately, my goal will be to work with the School of Health Sciences to help prepare graduating students for success.”