Since 1959, the education of healthcare practitioners has been a pillar of TIRR Memorial Hermann’s success in advancing the field of rehabilitation medicine at the local, regional and national levels. In 2014, in recognition of its five-decade-long legacy of training physicians, therapists, nurses and other healthcare professionals, the rehabilitation hospital formalized its educational vision and mission as the TIRR Memorial Hermann Education Academy. In 2019, the program was restructured as TIRR Memorial Hermann Education, and now includes four distinct programs: the Education Academy, Staff Education and Training, the Student and Observer Program, and Post-professional Programs.
“As educators, we’re focused on turning knowledge gained from research into practice as quickly as possible,” says Anna De Joya, PT, DSc, director of education for TIRR Memorial Hermann and the Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Network. “The number of research studies under way here and the size and acuity of our patient population gives us the opportunity to contribute best practices to the disciplines that make up rehabilitation. When we adopt a new practice, we immediately consider how we’ll share it with healthcare professionals across the Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Network and with the new and experienced professionals we host nationally and internationally through internships, externships, residencies, fellowships, courses and conferences.”
Hundreds of observers, student interns, residents and fellows come to TIRR Memorial Hermann for training each year. The institution has more than 136 affiliations with universities and colleges in the U.S. It hosts undergraduate programs for nursing students who complete clinical rotations each semester, for fulltime student interns and for part-time entry-level students. More than 125 observers spent structured time with educational teams in 2019. The hospital provides internship opportunities to students from colleges and universities in 25 states and several countries.
TIRR Memorial Hermann Education sponsors three Post-professional Programs, including nursing residency, physical therapy neurologic residency and speech-language pathology board certification support. An occupational therapy fellowship is under development. 2019 marks the tenth anniversary of the institution’s Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency Program, begun with two residents in collaboration with Texas Woman’s University and The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. One of the first credentialed neurologic physical therapy programs in the country, it offers a full range of clinical and didactic experiences across the lifespan and continuum of care, from acute care to community reintegration.
Few institutions offer combined opportunities for clinical experience, research and teaching. “We have the expertise to provide experience in one of these areas or all of them,” says De Joya. “It benefits those who come to us for training and our own staff as they grow and advance themselves. When you teach, you have a responsibility to stay current and involved. Teaching challenges us to elevate ourselves and provides opportunities for networking and collaborating internally and externally. The more we learn, the more questions we generate for our researchers. All this creates a healthy environment that ultimately benefits our patients.”