High Point University’s School of Health Sciences, is growing by leaps and bounds. Already housing undergraduate programs in exercise science and athletic training, the school is developing proposed new graduate programs in physical therapy and physician assistant studies. These programs will equip graduates to work in health-related fields expected to grow up to 39 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Dr. Daniel Erb, dean of the School of Health Sciences, discusses how the programs will prepare students for careers in a flourishing health care field.
How are current majors receiving a top notch education in the School of Health Sciences?
We are creating more experiential learning experiences through research for all of our majors. For example, our exercise science majors have opportunities to participate on DNA studies, human muscle tissue studies and are able to work directly with athletes who are looking to improve their performance or recover from an injury at our Human Biomechanics and Physiology Lab.
We are also working to change the undergraduate athletic training degree into a five year master’s program. In that program, the students would spend three years earning a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and then two years earning their master’s degree in athletic training.
Our athletic training students are already succeeding. In fact one of our students, Brenn Bolding, spent the summer interning with the New York Giants’ athletic trainers.
The Human Biomechanics and Physiology Lab is the most advanced of its kind with state-of-the-art equipment not found anywhere else on the East Coast, and you continue to upgrade. What new equipment is arriving this year?
The athletic training department is getting a portable motional analysis system that will collect and analyze three dimensional biomechanics of human movement at multiple remote sites, and a new high fidelity patient simulator that will allow students to practice caring for patients with emergency medical conditions common to athletes that often cause sudden death such as traumatic brain injuries, cardiac arrest, and exertional heat stroke.
The department of exercise science now has a metabolic cart, which can be found at major research, teaching and clinical sites so our students will be prepared to use them in their future careers; a biochemical plate reader to measure blood protein and hormones; and a nanodrop lite that allows researchers to measure specific gene changes with health and disease.
Finally, the department of physician assistant studies is incorporating medical clinical simulations into their curriculum. We are currently working on building a new facility that will house the physical therapy and physician assistant programs. The new building will include a labor and delivery suite, a simulation emergency room and trauma bay, a simulation operating room, a simulation pediatric hospital room, a simulation adult hospital room and a simulation of bed critical care and post-anesthesia recovery unit.
Why is it important for students to have access to equipment like this?
Students use this equipment in their experiential research, and help treat athletes at all levels from middle school to professionals. The facility also provides opportunities for collaboration with other HPU faculty and educators, researchers and clinicians throughout the world.
Our students have been very successful in presenting their work with this equipment at professional symposiums. One example is junior athletic training major Andrea Baellow who presented her mentored, original research on the role of hip muscle activation and injury at local, regional and national professional conferences. She was recognized as a top five finalist in undergraduate research by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association in Las Vegas this past summer.
How do health sciences translate into 21st century careers?
There is a great need for all of the disciplines within the School of Health Sciences because as the U.S. population ages, we will need more health care providers. There is also an increase in chronic disease such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiac disease and kidney failure. Every individual with these chronic diseases will require additional care.
Individuals are also trying to stay active longer, and as a result they get injured. The older they are, the longer healing can take and they require more health care.
Finally, there is a shortage of physicians. In fact, by 2025 we can expect a shortage of about 130,000 physicians in the U.S. alone. As the need for health care services grows, HPU recognizes the value of expanding the physician assistant workforce through the MPAS program. There are limitless opportunities for certified PAs in transforming our nations’ health care.