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IgnitED Newsletter: Transforming Healthcare in Texas

Sep 15, 2023

In this edition of IgnitED by WGU, we look at efforts to transform healthcare in the Rio Grande Valley, the influence and impact of emerging technologies in human resources, and the college affordability crisis.

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WGU Aims to Transform Rio Grande Valley’s Healthcare

The Rio Grande Valley is a 50-mile stretch of towns along the border of Texas and Mexico and is one of the fastest growing areas in the U.S.

This border region is home to 1.4 million people, nearly 90% Hispanic, and has some of the poorest counties in the country.

According to the RGV Health Connect Organization, the region’s median household income is $46,016, compared to $71,347 median household income state-wide in Texas. The region also has 24.7% of families living below poverty level, nearly triple the percentage for the nation. The Rio Grande Regional Hospital states that an estimated 76,000 people in the region have diabetes. The region also has nearly triple the rate of people living without health insurance compared nationally. 

WGU’s Institute for Advancing Health Value at the Leavitt School of Health and Altacair are collaborating to address these issues through an innovative coopetition (collaboration with competitors') program to transform the healthcare landscape of the Rio Grande Valley, and eventually expand to other regions in the country.

Equipping HR Professionals with Tech and Data Skills

Ashley Dugger, associate dean and director of HR and organizational psychology programs in the WGU College of Business, recently talked about how the field of Human Resources (HR) is undergoing a transformation fueled by existing and emerging technologies.

“AI is proving to be a game-changer across multiple HR functions,” she says.

“One intriguing application is the use of AI-powered chatbots to enhance employee interactions and streamline communication. Open enrollment periods, for instance, can be overwhelming, with employees seeking information and assistance. AI-driven chatbots can swiftly provide responses to common queries, freeing up HR professionals to focus on more strategic tasks. Moreover, AI tools can automate email generation, customizing messages and offering relevant links. This not only reduces manual workload but also empowers HR professionals to concentrate on more critical endeavors.”

It’s Time to Rethink Incentives for Higher Ed

“In recent months, discussions on the escalating cost of college — and subsequent debt passed onto students and taxpayers — have illuminated an affordability crisis that is hindering the ability of individuals to get ahead in life,” writes WGU President Scott Pulsipher.

How to Balance Technology and the Human Touch in Self-Service Enrollment

Students may encounter a totally autonomous experience in which they have to independently navigate where to go, with whom to speak, and how to contact the right person. These barriers can be considerable, especially for first-generation college students.

More WGU Headlines:

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Entrepreneur: Beyond Tuition: The Shocking Hidden Costs of College You Need to Know About

It’s easy to miscalculate your college expenses and lose track of your finances as you embrace your college life. Even the most meticulously designed college budgets tend to fall short.

Inside Higher Ed:Minority-Serving Institutions Lead on Student Economic Mobility

The second annual analysis by Third Way found that minority-serving institutions continue to provide students with more economic opportunity and mobility.

WGU Student Story:

David Lee Morgan, Jr.
M.S. Curriculum and Instruction (2021)
Canton, Ohio

A former sportswriter, David has worked for more than 20 years in the writing and journalism profession. The author of 11 books, he’s currently a high school English teacher and motivational speaker. David developed a program called "David Lee Morgan, Jr.'s MVP (Most Valuable Person) Youth Character and Literacy Program," which was used by Summit (Ohio) County’s Connect the Dots program. Offered to 17- and 18-year-old foster children as a bridge

from learning to life experiences, the program provides literacy and creative writing workshops. It focuses on mentoring, educational soft-skills development, and engages youth in lively discussions on subjects such as attitude, caring, focus, hope, handling adversity, persistence, responsibility, and gratitude—all topics that help build character.

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