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HPANews NEWS for Alumni of the Department of Health Policy and Administration COLLEGE OF HEALTH AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT FALL 2012 From the Department Head How much has changed since we sent our last print newsletter in the fall of 2011. As I sit to write today, the one word that keeps coming to my mind is integrity. It’s something that resonates with me from my own days as an undergraduate student. My university, the College of William and Mary, had a student honor code. In most classes, professors handed out exams and walked out of the room. Students were expected to act with integrity, including reporting whether their peers honored that academic code. I appreciated the idea that we were a community of scholars with high expectations for ethical behavior. That’s one reason I was drawn to study health care, where we find high expectations for professional behavior combined with a vibrant and tempting economic market. I loved the dynamic between my field of economics and the ethical issues raised in health care. All around us, we see areas where integrity is compromised—from academic medical centers that fail to identify, prevent, or manage financial conflicts of interest among physicians to the many instances of fraud in almost every area of health care. While leading the undergraduate program in HPA, I wrote a statement on academic integrity, which many faculty members now include in their syllabi. The statement stresses the ideas that ethical integrity is critically important in health care, where compromises can have life or death implications, and that ethical behavior is a habit developed over time. Thus, academic integrity is just one part of developing a habit of integrity. In my opinion, students who lie, cheat, or plagiarize are likely to become health professionals who cut corners, shade the numbers, or cook the books. Recent research on behavior, such as that found in Dan Ariely’s book “The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty,” is offering new insights into how and why we deceive ourselves and others. As our health system pushes more opportunities for risk and reward onto providers, a better understanding of how these impact ethical behaviors is critical. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on two questions: 1) What do you see as the most important ethical challenges facing health care leaders and organizations today? 2) What does HPA need to do to better prepare our students to handle these challenges? Our Penn State community has had a stunning lesson in integrity during the past year. I don’t think any of us have fully comprehended its meaning. During the course of the events, someone spoke with me about “The Grand Experiment.” I do not know that I have the facts or the ability to fully assess that history. As a scholar, however, my thought was that you learn in science that almost every experiment fails. Great researchers, like great leaders, learn the lessons from each failure and do it better the next time. Regards, Dennis Shea Professor and Head

Health Policy and Administration Fall 2012 Newsletter

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