Health Care is Topic of Free, 14-Week U.Va. Course Open to Students and Public

Does the current state of health care have you scratching your head? You’re not alone. To alleviate confusion and search for answers, the Department of Public Health Sciences in the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine is offering a free webinar course to students and community members that will feature guest lecturers considered to be the country’s elite health policy experts.

The 14-week series, which begins Jan. 23, presents topics of engaging national dialogue. Each one-hour discussion will present topics ranging from health care spending, on both a national and international perspective, to patient safety and challenges facing hospitals.

Guest lecturers will include Gerald Anderson of Johns Hopkins University, David Blumenthal of Commonwealth Fund, Marc Boom from Houston Methodist Hospital, Tsung-Mei Cheng of Princeton University, Carolyn Clancy of the Department of Veterans Affairs, David Goodman of Dartmouth College, Harlan Krumholz of Yale University, Mark McClellan of Brookings Institution, John McDonough of Harvard University, Sean Nicholson of Cornell University, Uwe Reinhardt of Princeton University, Sara Rosenbaum of George Washington University and William Stead of Vanderbilt University.

“For the people who know and are involved in health policy, these are big hitters,” said Carolyn Engelhard, director of U.Va.’s Health Policy Program. She and Dr. Arthur “Tim” Garson, director of the Center for Health Policy at U.Va., co-founded the health policy webinar series earlier this year and co-moderate the weekly lectures.

The series, which is open to the public and funded by the Center for Health Policy within the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, includes students from within the U.Va. community and other universities as well. U.Va. has partnered with Cornell, Vanderbilt and the University of Texas at Austin to offer an experience of “collaborative learning,” Engelhard said. The first series drew in a crowd of nearly 100 students, but with the ability to add seats to the virtual classroom, all are welcome to join.

“When I have a more heterogeneous group [of students], the No. 1 comment is, ‘We love being in class with so many different kinds of students,’” she said.

Students at the partner universities, as well as about 30 students from U.Va., use the webinar as a supplement to a regular, in-person course in which students meet at their respective schools for a lecture and discussion on the topics at hand. .

While guest lecturers choose the topic of conversation that guides the weekly webinars based on their expertise, they don’t come in with a prepared lecture but instead promote the community classroom experience by taking questions from students and guiding discussions based on their classroom audience.

“If you’re engaged in what’s going on in health policy, it’s really exciting, provocative and enriching to be part of a national dialogue,” Engelhard said.

Fortunately for visiting students from the community, the series does not include tests on material covered in the webinar. However, students are asked to complete weekly readings in preparation for the week’s guest lecturers and are offered the opportunity to ask questions of the guest lecturers based on their readings.

Between face-to-face video experience with guest lecturers, students asking questions via video and voiceover and an engaging chat box, there is an outlet for all to participate in the weekly dialogue.

For those who follow the national dialogue of health policy – whether in school or not – the free experience and discussion between experts and amateurs is incomparable, Engelhard said.

“It creates a great sense of collegiality. It’s not just student-to-student,” she said. “The classroom becomes more virtual, less walls, it’s just a richer experience for everybody.”  

To sign up, email Engelhard at

Media Contact

H. Brevy Cannon

Media Relations Associate Office of University Communications