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Cross-pollinating nursing and business: educating for the future

With everything from the debate over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to discussions about the cost of end-of-life care, healthcare and business are inextricably linked – and Thomas “Tim” Monahan, PhD knows this well.

Emphasizing that the College of Nursing and the School of Business have similar goals and interests, Dr. Monahan, the John M. Cooney Endowed Professor of Accounting and Information Systems at the Villanova School of Business (VSB) and an inaugural member of the College of Nursing’s Board of Consultors, encourages the two schools to work closely together on questions that are driving public policy today. Addressing health and business and the intersection of the two, these questions include everything from how to provide the most effective care at the best price to how to nurture cost-savvy technological innovation in healthcare, says Dr. Monahan, who was VSB’s dean from 1996 to 2003.

Dr. Monahan understands the overlap of business and nursing given his academic and professional background. Prior to joining Villanova’s faculty in 1981, he was a tenured professor at LaSalle University, and, before that, worked in the Treasurer’s Department of Becton, Dickinson and Company. He has published research in a wide variety of academic journals on such topics as capital budgeting, integrating finance and strategy in decision making, and new models for accounting education. He currently serves as chair of the audit committee on the Board of Ariba, Inc. and has served as a consultant to more than 30 Fortune 500 companies over the past 10 years, including Comcast, Dow Chemical, Exelon and Sprint.

To problem solve, those in business and nursing will have to work closely together to navigate an increasingly complex healthcare landscape – and one that is growing more and more expensive by the day, with U.S. healthcare costs eating up about 17.9 percent of GDP in 2011, according to government statistics. As the Baby Boomers continue to age – those 65 and older are poised to make up nearly one-fifth of the country’s population by 2030 – health care costs are expected to dramatically increase as the number of people with chronic conditions seek medical attention.

There are a variety of ways that Villanova can address these issues, including greater collaboration between the business and nursing colleges, Dr. Monahan said – and he suggested that could include creating minors involving health and business, as well as cross-teaching. Such ideas, as well as his interaction with Dean Fitzpatrick over the years and having his daughter Katie Monahan Spano ‘99 BSN, RN in the College, inspired him to join the Board of Consultors. “The most impressive thing about nurses is their level of concern for their fellow human beings,” Monahan said.

He stresses that each field can draw from one another’s strengths. “You need to push the discipline to other disciplines,” Dr. Monahan said. “By teaching your discipline to others, you in turn learn more about your own.”

Dr. Tim Monahan, a member of the College's Board of Consultors, is the John M. Cooney Endowed Professor of Accounting and Information Systems at the Villanova School of Business (VSB).