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News | 4 min read

VCU launches certificate program to train future innovators in health care

April 27, 2020

A new certificate program at Virginia Commonwealth University will make it simpler for those with an interest in innovation to develop products and solutions to challenges facing the health care industry.

The Graduate Certificate in Health Care Innovation is a joint program offered by VCU’s School of Nursing and da Vinci Center for Innovation, a collaboration of VCU’s Schools of the Arts and Business and colleges of Engineering and Humanities and Sciences that advances innovation and entrepreneurship. The certificate will provide opportunities for students to advance their knowledge and skills at identifying problems and implementing solutions to foster high-quality, safe and accessible health care.

VCU received formal notice last week of the program’s approval by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. It is Virginia’s first graduate-level certificate program to focus on cross-disciplinary health care innovation.

“This program is geared toward health care professionals who want to better understand product development and professionals in other areas who want to build solutions that fit the needs of the health care field,” said Ingrid Pretzer-Aboff, Ph.D., the program’s co-director and a senior nurse researcher and associate professor in the School of Nursing. “It has become clearer than ever how vital it is for leaders in these fields to find innovative solutions to the challenges in health care that impact everyone, from rising health care costs to improving quality and access to care.”

As the world faces the onset of COVID-19, the program is a unique way for those with an interest in improving health care to learn a different set of skills.

“Even before the COVID-19 crisis, there was a clear need to innovate within the health care space, which inspired the creation of this graduate certificate,” said Allison Schumacher, the program’s co-director and an instructor and director of academic alchemy at the da Vinci Center. “Health is one of the most challenging fields in which to innovate, so this program is designed to identify health care opportunities and eliminate the hurdles in product development and commercialization processes.”

The program expands on the work VCU has done to support bringing health innovations to market. In January 2019, VCU launched the Health Innovation Consortium, with founding partners VCU Health and Activation Capital, to support new technologies that improve health care for providers, patients and health systems.

The graduate certificate program, open to those who have earned a bachelor’s degree, will enroll its first class in fall 2020. Its multidisciplinary curriculum will prepare students for leadership roles on interdisciplinary teams and will cover topics including problem identification, product development, user analysis, prototyping, quality and safety testing, marketing, supply-chain management and commercialization.

The online and in-person hybrid program consists of 12 credit hours and can be completed in one year full time and two years part time for students not seeking an additional degree. Degree-seeking graduate students at VCU can also apply to enroll in the certificate program.

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 30,000 students in 233 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Twenty-two of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 11 schools and three colleges. The VCU Health brand represents the VCU health sciences academic programs, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, MCV Physicians and Virginia Premier Health Plan. For more, please visit and