FranU launches hub for healthcare professional development

Technology, medicine, and even the institution’s name may have changed since the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady first opened FranU in 1923, but the goal of extending the healing ministry of Jesus Christ to God’s people remains at the forefront of every decision the academic team makes. That mission is why, more than a century later, the leadership at the award-winning university decided to gather information from partners and stakeholders about what the area, state, and region most need.

“The most commonly voiced concerns were centered around the skill gaps in our workforce,” said FranU Assistant Professor and Director of Health Administration Laurinda Calongne, EdD, LCSW. “In Baton Rouge alone, we have more than 30,000 people employed in the healthcare sector and in Louisiana, there are 300,000 people who work in our industry, highlighting a clear need for upscaled and targeted training.”

Seeing an opportunity to help those in healthcare grow and develop professionally, FranU’s Board of Trustees decided to launch the new Franciscan Center for Professional Development, a hub for e-learning courses, virtual seminars, webinars, and a simulation hospital that will serve as a training site for clinicians to learn new and enhance existing skills.

“We are thrilled to offer these advanced learning opportunities and to be a major partner in the state’s workforce development,” said Calongne. “From specific nursing skills to finance in healthcare, there will be options that help all ranges of healthcare professionals continue to best care for our friends and neighbors.”

Named by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a Community Engaged Campus and a six-time President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll winner, FranU has the capacity to develop high-quality, innovative programming and will partner with other healthcare organizations to create customized in-person training.

The first round of classes, which will focus on leadership development at all levels—from managers to executives to clinical leaders and finance in healthcare—will begin in September of 2024.

As the program continues to develop and grow, healthcare professionals will have the opportunity to learn in FranU’s state-of-the-art simulation hospital. The 19,000-square-foot, two-story simulated learning environment has the capacity for improvised technology, computer-based simulation, task training simulation, virtual reality simulation and mannequin-based simulation.

“Many hospitals might have one or two rooms for simulation,” said Calongne. “Our two-story building with inpatient units, operating room, and outpatient clinics allows teams of people to come together to learn new skills in a realistic clinical setting.”

FranU’s work in the professional development realm is just beginning, with semiannual listening sessions planned to hear partners’ feedback and advice on future healthcare trends.

“We have just opened the door for this project,” said Calongne. “We know there are many more opportunities for collaboration and programs, and we’re excited to be part of it. Learning is growing, and if we grow our workforce, everyone will benefit from it … especially patients.”