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Educating the clinical educators: U-M to launch new master's degree in health professions education

Based at U-M Medical School, program will be open to those who train doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, clinical social workers & more

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A new master’s degree program at the University of Michigan Medical School will help doctors, nurses and other health professionals learn how to educate future members of their professions – and address the worldwide shortage of many types of health care providers.

Approved today by the U-M Board of Regents, the unique program of individualized learning will admit its first 12 students for this fall, to work toward a master’s degree in Health Professions Education or MHPE.

Physicians, nurses, dentists, pharmacists and clinical social workers who have responsibility for educating students and early-career trainees, or who seek to do so, will be able to enroll. The program will expand to 25 students by the third year.

Rather than classroom training, the program will focus on mentor-guided projects that enrollees will develop in their own current working environments over the course of two to three years. U-M faculty who specialize in health professions education will each mentor one to three students closely, ensuring a highly personalized experience.

The Medical School is one of only six institutions in the United States that has a department specifically dedicated to medical education. U-M is one of few universities with top-ranked schools in a broad range of health disciplines.

Through distance learning technologies, students will be able to enroll from anywhere – including India, where U-M is working with the Maharashtra University of the Health Sciences in Nashik on a joint program to educate new health professions educators. Students may also come from as close as U-M itself, which has more than 2,800 faculty in its health professions schools on the Ann Arbor and Flint campuses.

Larry Gruppen, Ph.D., who led the team that developed the new program, notes that many health professionals who are called upon to lead education and clinical training programs have no formal training in education methods.

“As the number of medical schools and other health professions training programs expands, we must ensure that education programs – and the health professionals they produce – meet the highest quality standards,” says Gruppen, who is the chair of the U-M Department of Medical Education and the Josiah Macy, Jr. Professor of Medical Education. “Our program will emphasize the importance of developing educators who can lead the way in serving national and worldwide needs.”

The new master’s will teach students to build and run “competency-based” programs that emphasize the skills a health provider needs, not just memorization of facts. Programs that train multiple types of health professionals to work with one another, just as they will in their careers, will receive special emphasis. 

Students will be expected to publish the results of their work in peer-reviewed journals as part of the program, ensuring that their experience can be shared with other health professions educators.

The program must still be approved by the President's Council of the State Universities of Michigan.

More information about the program, including application requirements and tuition costs, will be online soon. In the interim, working health professionals may email to indicate interest.

The new master’s program will be the latest in a range of master’s degree programs offered at the U-M Medical School, in addition to the medical doctor (M.D.) degree and Ph.D. programs. Applications are now being accepted for a new master’s program in Biochemistry. Students can also earn master’s degrees in Bioinformatics, Biomedical Engineering, Clinical Research, Genetic Counseling, Health & Health Care Research, Human Genetics, Microbiology, Pharmacology or Physiology through programs offered by the Medical School, some of them in partnership with other schools across U-M.

For a full list of master's degrees offered by the U-M Medical School, see

For more about the U-M Department of Medical Education, visit


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