Dear students,

The University of Applied Health Sciences has been at the forefront of education of health professionals for decades and it is one of the most desirable higher education institutions in the Republic of Croatia. At this point, in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic, we still cannot define what will be the “new normal” for health education, health care, or society as a whole once this pandemic ends. It is quite clear that the enormous pressure placed on education, health care and public health systems could not be addressed without a collaborative and interprofessional team approach. If we have ever doubted that we were preparing future health workers to work in teams, COVID-19  has removed that doubt. I am proud to say that our current and former students are at the forefront of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and thus confirm the qualities we strive for at the University of Applied Health Sciences. These qualities – in addition to knowledge and skills – are humanity, dedication and excellence.

These are challenging times for the education of health professionals. Many of the theoretical classes are  held in the virtual environment, and it is likely that this will be applied in the future.  In addition to changes in theoretical classes, there have been significant changes in practical classes during the pandemic. Due to epidemiological measures, the implementation of practical classes has substantially changed in order to protect patients, health professionals and students, but the experience and innovation of our teachers and mentors from about 40 collaborating institutions have found adequate solutions.

The pandemic has very clearly demonstrated the growing role of technology in education and health care. This forced rapid transition in both domains will lead to rapid improvement and acceptance of more and more technological solutions, and I believe some of these changes will be lasting. As traumatic as such a transition may be, we can see it as an accelerator of change, albeit at a very high cost; psychological, physical and material.

Building on a decade of innovation that has provided evidence of the concept and guiding principles of education, we are ready for a decade of explosive innovation in line with the new global trends. We are aware that new generations of students, adults with interactive devices and easily accessible online information, expect higher education to offer the same level of advanced educational technologies. Following the needs of Next Gen students/Generation Z entering higher education, the University of Applied Health Sciences is preparing study programs for which will be mostly held in a virtual environment and study programs available in English. As these are skill-based professions, the programs will be combined with interactive learning activities and hands-on teaching.

For many years now, the University of Applied Health Sciences has been organizing e-courses in the virtual environment by using the Moodle platform which enabled us to be more than ready to face the challenges of working in the time of a pandemic. Our team of teachers and IT support is strongly focused on the regular improvement of the virtual educational experience in order to continuously maintain high quality of teaching.

The aim of the University of Applied Health Sciences is to provide student-centered education, which will promote the development of highly specialized knowledge and skills among students in each of the study programs. Our strategic focus is to prepare future forward-thinking health professionals who actively improve access to quality care. The University organizes 12 accredited study programs. Created as a center that fosters innovation, the University of Applied Health Sciences provides excellence in preparing students’ practical skills training through simulations of clinical environments to accelerate the acquisition of experiential learning. New, modernly equipped skills laboratories show a strong commitment to excellence, especially aimed at new generations of students, who grew up in the digital age. The inclusion of the widest range of state-of-the-art simulation technologies, such as 3D teaching, simulation mannequins connected to remote units through software, laboratories, tablet computers and other computer models, is extremely important to achieve a transformational learning environment. This combination of technologies offers the ability to create realistic health care scenarios and encourage research into human factors, such as identifying the most effective methods to improve and measure learning styles and the resulting impact on the outcomes of care provided. Such a clear articulation of the desired outcomes conveys a strong commitment to influencing health care outcomes, that is, to reducing errors and improving the effectiveness of our students’ skills. Procedural and professional skills, as well as communication skills, critical thinking, leadership and team training are improved and assessed through skills laboratories. At the same time, we are keeping in mind that technology is a platform through which connections can be established, but pedagogy is the one that involves students in learning, and this is  the responsibility of our teaching staff. We need to be aware that man is limited only as much as he is, or is not ready and capable for change and innovation. The times we are in are challenging, with necessary and important advances that are already largely underway, and from which, with joint effort and perseverance, we can create a better tomorrow, for us and the community as a whole.

I invite you to enter this new educational age with enthusiasm and knowledge that the University of Applied Health Sciences stands together with you in facing all the challenges that come your way. Bring ideas, experience, perspective and dreams with you as you communicate with each other using digital tools at your disposal. You are now part of an educational institution that has spawned leaders in health, science, education and legislative areas at the local, state, regional and world levels. Let this motivate you because there are those among you who will bring change and achieve extraordinary success.

I would like to thank you, the students. I would also like to thank the teachers, staff and alumni, for adapting to the challenges of this rapidly evolving and uncertain time, and who, as members of the community committed to caring for the sick and to promoting and protecting health, have risen up to the challenge. Recognizing our interconnectedness as a community and our professional and scientific understanding of how to protect public health has never been more important.

With certainty into a new and better tomorrow together with you,

 

Dean
Professor Krešimir Rotim, MD, PhD