MHA director Natalia Rekhter travels to Russia for Fulbright project

December 5th, 2016 | SMWC

Natalia Rekhter, director of SMWC’s Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) program, speaks to the faculty of Southern Federal University in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, as part of a project funded by the Fulbright Specialist Program this fall.

By Dianne Frances D. Powell

Empowered by her own knowledge and experience with Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College’s (SMWC) pioneering expertise in distance education, Natalia Rekhter traveled this fall to Russia where she taught courses on global health and helped design a public university’s online program.

Rekhter, director of the College’s Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) program, spent two weeks from late September to early October in Russia for a project funded by a Fulbright Specialist grant.

Federally-supported, the prestigious Fulbright Specialist Program “sends U.S. faculty and professionals to serve as expert consultants on curriculum, faculty development, institutional planning and related subjects at overseas academic institutions for a period of 2 to 6 weeks,” according to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Rekhter was awarded a Fulbright Specialist status by the Council of International Exchange of Scholars and Institute of International Education in 2013.

This year, she said her expertise was specifically requested for the project by Southern Federal University (SFedU) in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, a public university with around 30,000 students. While there, she helped create a training program for its faculty in areas of online teaching and the use of social media in education, Rekhter said.

The Fulbright project had several parts: one, Rekhter was tasked to teach a seminar on global healthcare issues and on ethical issues in contemporary healthcare; two, she shared her expertise with faculty on online teaching and social media use in the classroom; and three, she provided support for the faculty in the development of an online pilot course. The fourth and final part is a possible follow-up visit to Russia for evaluation.

Natalia Rekhter poses with students
MHA director Natalia Rekhter poses with the business management department students of Southern Federal University in Russia. She taught a course on "Emerging Issues in Healthcare Management,” part of a Fulbright project this fall.

“Mrs. Rekhter’s credentials and experiences perfectly fit our needs of training faculty in on-line teaching,” according to the project description. “Mrs. Rekhter, a native of Russia, has 16 years of college teaching experience and six years of teaching online.” Plus, as director of the MHA program, she has experience in program and course development, the project stated.

In the end, the collaboration aims to lead to the creation of a Certificate in International Healthcare Affairs, taught online.

Rekhter said the experience was rewarding. She was appreciative of the opportunity to share her knowledge and SMWC’s expertise to educators in Russia who are in the process of improving their education programs. “I felt like I can make a difference,” she said.

Through her, the College has reached students from this part of the world. “The College expertise that we developed here is benefitting the university in Russia, for sure,” she said.

While the Fulbright project directly impacts Southern Federal University both in the areas of online education and in the preparation of its students for changes in healthcare, it also opened possibilities for future partnership between the Russian university and SMWC.

“One of the project’s goals is to foster relationships between SFedU and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) with a possibility of offering online courses for students from both campuses,” the grant authors wrote. “Another goal is students exchange visits.”