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Creighton University Arizona Health Education Alliance

Maricopa Integrated Health System (MIHS), Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Creighton University, and District Medical Group (DMG) have joined forces to form the Creighton University Arizona Health Education Alliance. This partnership brings together a university recognized for providing outstanding training for students and residents in the health sciences and two health care providers known for their impressive history of caring for members of the greater Phoenix community.

MIHS and St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center also have long histories of success in preparing physicians for the medicine of tomorrow. They offer Arizona’s longest running residency programs and train hundreds of physicians every year in a wide range of clinical settings.

With this new partnership, we anticipate some major changes coming in the spring of 2018. There will be new facilities, improved resources and greater fellowship opportunities as you pursue your chosen specialty.  

What will not change is our dedicated teaching faculty, the diversity of patient care encounters and experiences, or our commitment to you, your education and your professional and personal development. We are working to build a better health care system and a stronger educational institution with shared resources and talent.

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Further information about the Health Education Alliance was provided at the Graduate Medical Education forums by Dale Davenport, Senior Associate Dean, Creighton University School of Medicine.  A copy of the PowerPoint can be accessed here


Frequently Asked Questions


What exactly does this affiliation between MIHS, Creighton University, Dignity Health and DMG mean?

These entities have signed a binding agreement that outlines a strategic partnership designed to improve upon and expand Graduate Medical Education (GME) Programs and to develop academic and clinical education programs in nursing, pharmacy, allied health and medicine through a collaborative organization tentatively called the “Creighton University Arizona Health Education Alliance.

Why did MIHS, Dignity Health and DMG select Creighton University as their academic partner?

Due to their closely aligned missions and core values, this Affiliation is uniquely positioned to combine the best and brightest to take a leadership role in attracting both top caliber faculty and students, expanding educational training programs, developing joint research institutes, and collectively being a greater advocacy voice for medical education funding.  In addition, these parties have already experienced successful relationships; with MIHS and Dignity Health’s St. Joseph’s Hospital having an integrated obstetrics residency program dating back to the 1980’s and in 2009 Dignity Health partnering with Creighton University in an academic affiliation that created a Creighton medical school presence in Phoenix.

What do these parties hope to accomplish with this affiliation?

These “Parties” with their exceptional track records, reputation and proven expertise in running teaching hospitals, medical schools and medical training see this affiliation  as a commitment to being at the forefront of advanced medical education, research and to training new generations of physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals to improve the health outcomes of our community, state and nation.

How will this affiliation operate?

  1. Governance: through an oversight committee serving as the governing body of the Alliance, it will develop a strategic plan, provide program oversight, and ensure an optimal clinical learning environment.
  2. Operations: The Alliance, with the goals of providing centralized coordination and oversight, expanded clinical research and training, increased access to greater patient/community diversity, reduced costs due to consolidation, and expansion of existing training programs, developing new specialty/sub-specialty fellowships and clinical training programs, improving advocacy for medical education funding, and addressing the work force needs of the State of Arizona.
  3. All Maricopa and Dignity residency and fellowship programs in good accreditation standing will be brought under Creighton Institutional sponsorship. This includes the training programs of podiatry and pharmacy. It also includes a new Creighton nursing program. 
  4. Program Standardization: through the development of, among other things, a charter, policies, monitoring, coordination of faculty and support for research.
  5. Development of New Programs: The Alliance will provide the opportunity to develop new sub-specialty programs for physician training. It will also assist in developing new programs in nursing, pharmacy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, medicine, and various medical specialties and sub-specialties.  The Parties will collaborate through the Alliance for clinical rotations for applicable educational programs. 

When will this collaboration begin?

September 1, 2018, following institutional Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accreditation approval to be accomplished by the summer of 2018. Creighton University will start to work with Maricopa and Dignity GME programs directly to help the programs transition sponsorship next spring.

How Long is the agreement?

The agreement is for an initial term of 20 years followed by two five-year renewals. The new affiliation is designed to be a permanent partnership among the members.  The five years allows the Alliance to fulfill their commitment to health care trainees to finish their programs.

What is the financial implication of this affiliation?

We do not anticipate any significant cost increases for this collaboration as these are currently funded positions and programs.  There will be opportunities to examine any duplicate activities to determine if the training programs can be operated more effectively.

Each partner has important teaching and research relationships in health education, how will these change?

Currently students from the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine Phoenix have rotations at MIHS and Dignity Health.  Additionally, Creighton School of Medicine sends about 90 students to complete their final two years on their campus at St. Joseph’s and Creighton School of Pharmacy sends 20 students.   We do not anticipate these opportunities to be decreased or diminished.  In fact by potentially expanding Graduate Medical Education (residency training) opportunities may increase.  The same holds to students in other medical schools and health education including nursing and other allied health fields. Similarly we expect the ability to collaborate with other research institutions to grow.

How will faculty's relationship change with the affiliation?

We do not expect to see a material decrease in faculty and even expect to see an expansion as GME programs increase, to include residency and fellowship programs.  As faculty are involved with students of other institutions we expect to see continued faculty appointments with the relevant institutions including but not limited to Creighton University, University of Arizona, Arizona State University, Mayo Clinic and Midwestern University.

Will faculty's employment change as a result of this affiliation?

The partnership does not include any provision to change employment status, other than some centralization of academic administrative activities.

Will residents' employment change as a result of this partnership? 

The Alliance will work toward being the employer of Alliance residents in order to achieve parity of total compensation across the institutions. We anticipate there will be a transition of employment period.

Will this affiliation definitely mean a 4-year Creighton University School of Medicine campus at St. Joseph's?

The alliance will provide the foundation for the potential that Creighton University School of Medicine will enhance its current campus at St. Joseph’s to a full four-year medical school in the next 5 to 7 years. Currently Creighton University School of Medicine Regional Campus at St. Joseph's provides 3rd and 4th year medical students the training they need to become physicians.  There are 42 third-year and 42 fourth-year students currently on the campus.

Will this affiliation definitely mean a new nursing school in Phoenix?

Creighton University is working with Alliance partners to determine the demand for additional nursing education programs in Arizona and the Southwest.  The initial program will be an accelerated nursing program, which has received state approval. The nursing program is scheduled to begin January 2018.  Additional programs may be developed in the future.

How will the people of Arizona benefit from this affiliation?

The initial goal is to bring together the strengths of each residency program and thereby raise the quality of the combined programs.  This is a clear example of the "sum being greater than the parts". We will then be able to recruit the "best and brightest" to our training programs who potentially will serve and stay in Arizona.

Today, Arizona ranks 32nd in active MDs per 100,000 Arizonans.  As the Alliance matures, our goal is to expand training opportunities by way of residencies, fellowships and medical student slots.  Because they train here, Arizona would be more likely to retain some of these trainees in the region. Additionally, the Alliance will pursue expanded development of training and education programs in nursing, allied health and pharmacy that could all benefit Arizonans.

Does this agreement include clinical growth opportunities?

This alliance relates to training and there are no planned joint clinical expansions contained in this particular agreement. The Alliance will provide opportunities to develop more specialty training programs that could assist members in developing new clinical services.

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