Last month, a group met in E Hall’s Montpelier room to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the JMU-RMH Collaborative.

The brainchild of interim JMU provost Jerry Benson, the collaborative is built on the proposition that both JMU and the local hospital have talents, expertise, ideas and dreams that  can create successes both for the hospital and for the university when they join forces. When Benson approached Rockingham Memorial Hospital/Sentara CEO Jim Krauss a half-dozen years ago, the two agreed it might work.

It actually takes little imagination to think of all the ways that the mission of a hospital and a university could overlap. But how does one mine and coordinate all the possibilities?

That’s exactly what the collaborative does. It vets good ideas, engages people in both organizations and finds ways to  improve health care and education in the valley. It’s purpose is simple: the see how JMU might benefit the hospital and how RMH might benefit JMU. In the mix are medical professionals, university faculty and students.

Since the collaborative was launched in January of 2007, 121 collaborative projects have been successfully developed. These include Research Rounds, a periodic meeting of RMH physicians and JMU faculty members who share what they are working on and how they might work together. Bill Grant, professor of economics in the College of Business, brought the concept to JMU from Duke University where he had seen it be successful.

Out of Research Rounds, a professor of chemistry might find a physician interested in conducting research that could involve undergraduate students, or the nursing staff might find a way to allow student nurses to contribute to research into best practices.

Another successful venture the collaboration has produced is a program that allows pre-med students to assist emergency room physicians. The Scribe program, headlined by RMH’s Dr. Claire Plautz, exemplifies the symbiotic relationships the collaborative fosters.

JMU’s health programs, many through the Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services, is “one of the largest health programs in Virginia short of medical schools,” Benson told the gathering. While RMH is not a research hospital, research is done there, and while JMU has no medical school, important medical-related education occurs there.

You could call it meducation — taking the best of medicine and education in the valley and changing it into the best kind of collaborations.

Learn more about the collaborative at

Read Jim Heffernan’s (’76) story about the collaborative’s successful scribe program at


About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

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