A University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford faculty member, Michael Glasser, PhD, was selected from faculty at all four medicine campuses to receive the 2019 University of Illinois College of Medicine Faculty of the Year Award at the graduation ceremony in Chicago.
“Dr. Glasser has significantly enhanced the profile of the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford both nationally and internationally through a unique combination of leadership, advocacy, service, research and teaching,” says College of Medicine Rockford Regional Dean Alex Stagnaro-Green, MD, MPHE, MHA.
Dr. Glasser exemplifies special achievement in leadership as director of the college’s National Center for Rural Health Professions (NCRHP); is an effective leader in developing programs and curriculum as the Associate Dean for Rural Health Professions; and has a rich history of outstanding teaching and research as a Research Professor of Medical Sociology, according to Dr. Stagnaro-Green.
More than 25 years ago, Dr. Glasser helped establish the Rural Medical Education (RMED) Program on the Rockford campus and, in 2003, the interdisciplinary NCRHP, a designated center of the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Under his direction, the NCRHP has achieved national and international recognition for its RMED Program that has graduated nearly 300 physicians — about 70 percent of whom now practice in rural areas, including at many of the 30 partner hospitals around the state serving as teaching sites for RMED students. Expanding on the success of RMED, Glasser incorporated a Rural Pharmacy Program in 2010, a Rural Nursing Program in 2017 and a recent Behavioral Health Workforce Education, Leadership and Learning Program. Now a nationally known leader in rural medicine and recognized for research on education and health policy, Dr. Glasser was named the Dr. George T. & Mildred A. Mitchell endowed professor, the first endowed professorship on the Rockford campus. In 2011, the Illinois Rural Health Association recognized Dr. Glasser’s contributions to rural medicine with the Outstanding Award of Merit for Community Service. He also received the Rockford campus Distinguished Faculty Service Award in 2012 for his outstanding contributions to community health. He’s demonstrated leadership for the campus community where he’s served on and chaired many committees as well as the national and international medical community through such endeavors as the editorial board of the Journal of Rural Health since 2005 and as co-editor for the international peer-reviewed WHO-sponsored journal, Education for Health. He also serves as a reviewer for numerous other publications.
Dr. Glasser served on the team to develop the Rural Health Professions curriculum and contributed to the design, development, implementation and evaluation of a six-week interdisciplinary curriculum for health professions students in medicine, pharmacy, social work, nursing, public health, and dentistry with a focus on clinical, community service-learning, and classroom components. He designed the M3-year RMED curriculum on community health and community-oriented primary care and participated in the development of the problem-based learning modules for health care professionals in rural communities. He also assisted Princess of Naradhiwas University in Thailand in establishing a rural medicine program modeled after Rockford’s highly successful RMED Program. In addition, Dr. Glasser developed the Native American Pathway Program to bring Native American students to our campus medical school with the intent that they will return to their tribe to practice medicine.
As course coordinator and an instructor for the RMED program, Dr. Glasser taught medical students about community-oriented primary care and proposal writing for 21 years. He also serves on the Executive Committee of the international organization Network: Towards Unity for Health, which is committed to community and academic partnerships. He also works with the Pan American Health Organization (regional office of WHO) in developing and teaching primary health care in Central and South America. Dr. Glasser has set up affiliation agreements with Maastricht University in the Netherlands and the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, for research and clinical externships for medical students.
Dr. Glasser earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology at Colorado State University and a doctorate in social psychology and medical sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He came to the College of Medicine Rockford in 1978 as a research associate focusing on geriatrics and dementia, but, since the 1990s, his primary research focus has been on rural medicine. His current research interests include rural workforce development, program development to reduce health disparities, patient-provider relationships, chronic disease management, and mental health care in rural and underserved populations. He has published nearly 100 papers, books and chapters and his work is frequently cited by others interested in rural healthcare. In addition, he has had significant grant support over the years and has been a recipient of more than 30 grants totaling more than $23 million, the most recent of which is a $7 million Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality grant for primary care and community-based prevention of mental disorders in adolescents.
Additionally, Dr. Glasser has served as co-investigator on the HRSA-funded Hispanic Center of Excellence (HCOE), which established the Rural Medicina Academy with the goals of identifying Latino/Hispanic youth in Illinois to support medical and other health professions careers that will result in a culturally competent workforce in rural areas, providing services to Latino and Hispanic populations. The NCRHP, under the direction of Dr. Glasser, also serves as the Program Office of the federally funded Illinois Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Program Network with its three urban and six rural AHECs around the state. Over the past five years, these Illinois centers have provided services and education for over 55,000 participants. Finally, Dr. Glasser was co-principal investigator, with the executive director of the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network, on another federally funded Rural Network Development grant. This project targeted 13 of the poorest and most underserved rural communities in Southeast Illinois to develop a network to improve young people’s interest in health careers in rural areas and to encourage a “grow-your-own” approach, where local youth are informed of and supported in pursuing health careers that will ultimately benefit the local community.