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Featured Online Faculty Profile


Deryl Gulliford, MHA, FAAMA

Professor - Professor, Online
Teaching Field: Health Services Management

"The distinguishing mark of a DeVry education is its high relevance to the workplace. Students don't waste their time. Both the coursework and exposure to on-the-job concerns are practical and relevant. They learn things today that they will literally use at the clinic, the hospital, or HMO tomorrow."

Where I come from

I graduated from Ohio State University thirty years ago with a bachelor's degree and my training as a respiratory therapist. Because I had taken the Management track in the OSU program, I found myself a department director five years into my clinical practice. I soon went back for my Master's in Health Administration (MHA), and additional graduate work in law and health policy.

I had the opportunity to build an entire new hospital in Kansas, between 1998 and 2000, before taking a position as CEO of Seiling Hospital in Oklahoma. I am proud of the fact that my peers elected me state director for the American Academy of Medical Administrators (AAMA) this year, and colleagues across the country elected me as the William Newcomer Healthcare Executive of the Year in 2005. The Newcomer award was a big deal, not just for me, but for small and rural community hospitals like mine. Usually the winner of the national award comes from a major medical center, often a teaching hospital. Election of a small hospital person made a statement about the importance of what we are doing out here in community healthcare.

Teacher and architect

I love teaching! OSU recruited me as an adjunct professor in 1982, and I have been teaching online for DeVry University since 2001. At DeVry University, I teach the Introduction to Health Services Management course, HSM 310. I feel that if I give students a good experience, their chance of success moving forward into the more specialized courses is much better. In 310, we teach HSM, of course, but we also teach people how to be online learners.

I also do course architecture - taking existing courses and bringing them up to leading trends in technology. My particular approach is to bring in a lot of real-world experience and to make the course as directly relevant as possible. Right now I'm doing that for HSM 340, Health Services Finance. For HSM 430, Strategic Planning, I brought in my own hospital's strategic plan as an example.

Moving on up into management

DeVry University offers a real-world, nut-and-bolts experience that opens students' eyes to what they will see when they complete their degrees and find themselves in management. This happens quickly - there is a severe shortage of leadership in health services. Some students move up into management while they are still in the program. Others come because they have been "knighted" on the job - first they get the title of manager, then they're sent for training. Sometimes the very first post from a student says, “I've just been made manager of the laboratory, and I need to find out what to do."

The teacher's teacher

Jim Sheahan at OSU will forever be my model of a teacher. Jim found the exact balance of rigorous academics and human involvement that characterizes what we try to do at DeVry University. He absolutely devoted himself to his students, took it as a personal responsibility to see them succeed, and put an inspiring amount of effort and planning into his teaching. He also made it fun. His humor helped take off the serious pressure of medical training. In my experience, the best work in every field is done by the people having fun doing it.

Being a person online

In an onsite classroom, the student can see your eyes and body language, and see that you are a nice person. The ice is broken quickly. Online you have to find other ways to convey collegiality and warmth. It is important for the online instructor to be a real person and for the students to come out as real individuals.

I always "smile online." I use medical humor in my posts, especially when the jokes make a point about expectations. DeVry University instructors also post their biography, telling about their degrees and work experience. I share my outside interests (golf!) and family news. Once in a while, my cat adds a bit of humor by running across the keyboard during a live chat.

Opening closed doors

The huge advantage of online education is that you can do it any hour, any day, virtually anywhere. At least one person in every class has no other way to study and earn a degree except online. This gives dedicated people the opportunity to advance themselves, their healthcare organizations, and the population they serve. This is an enormous benefit, especially to people in the military and in rural areas. DeVry University opens doors to people who thought they were stuck at low levels for the rest of their careers.

eCollege is the definitive, leading platform for online learning-miles ahead of any other. Students find it friendly and easy to use. As to the HSM curriculum, at DeVry University it is exactly the same for onsite and online classes. As a course developer, I used the onsite curriculum guide to create the online course, with the same objectives and assignments. My changes feed back into the onsite course.

Meet your fellow students

Online education appeals to a mature population-mostly people in their 30s and 40s. They bring their experiences of life to the course. They are more goal-focused than traditional undergraduates; their degree is going to open doors for them or teach them to handle a job they've been given. Most of our students are already employed in healthcare - about a third in some supervisory role and the rest in frontline positions like nursing or physical therapy or the laboratory. I've had physicians and pharmacists in my classes.

Tips for success

The key to success is regular participation in the discussion. I preach logging on daily. That way I can guide them as to the things they need to be doing. The student who tries to do it all on the weekend is at a real disadvantage. I typically have 20 students in class. I encourage them to get a "study buddy" and they often form small groups that do live chats and phone calls. Friendships develop among the students who've taken a number of courses together, and that is a neat thing. It is a great resource for their professional careers.

The power spot for professionals

Early on, I get students involved in the professional associations, American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) and the American Academy of Medical Administrators (AAMA). Student membership fees are a real bargain. I teach them how to use the career section of those organizational web sites, where the jobs are posted. It is very motivating to see that there are, say, 900 HSM positions open nationwide, including the actual job they want.

Why DeVry?

The high visibility of DeVry University in the industry, and the very smart marketing they have done to healthcare technology, makes a DeVry University degree a very valuable credential. It is far above many other online programs, and benefits from DeVry University's experience with onsite courses.

The distinguishing mark of a DeVry University education is its high relevance to the workplace. Students don't waste their time. Both the coursework and exposure to on-the-job concerns are practical and relevant. They learn things today that they will literally use at the clinic, the hospital, or HMO tomorrow.