By Kate Hunger
The School of Health Professions has opened applications for its new Bachelor of Science in medical sciences degree, with the first cohort to begin in Fall 2022.
The degree program is designed to prepare undergraduate students for a variety of graduate-level health professional programs including occupational therapy, physical therapy, medical laboratory sciences, respiratory care, dentistry, medicine, pharmacy, physician assistant, speech-language pathology and health systems management.
“We are seeing more professions with increasing education requirements to become a practicing professional in that field,” said Matt Anderson, PhD, associate dean for administrative affairs and assistant professor in the School of Health Professions. “The additional cost and length of study create barriers to students interested in pursuing those careers, in particular students from a lower socioeconomic status or demographic group underrepresented in the health professions.”
Students in the program will receive individualized advisement to help them plan for and achieve their educational and career goals, Dr. Anderson said. The program is intended to offer students pathways to health professions careers and help build a diverse workforce.
“The demand for health professionals is growing both nationally and in Texas, and there is a need for a diverse workforce,” Dr. Anderson said. “It is important to have providers who are reflective of the patient populations we serve. When health professionals can relate to the cultural backgrounds of their patients, they will be more likely to provide culturally competent care.”
The curriculum for the medical sciences degree, which is part of the Department of Health Sciences, includes courses in basic sciences, research and the health care system. Students also participate in a practicum experience to shadow professionals in a variety of health fields. Applicants must have completed the Texas Common Course Curriculum and meet other admission requirements.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects health care occupations to increase by 16% from 2020 to 2030, with a number of health professions projected to grow by more than 20%. Employment is forecast to increase by 31% for physician assistants; by 29% for speech-language pathologists; by 23% for respiratory therapists; by 21% for physical therapists; by 17% for occupational therapists; and by 11% for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians.
The Bachelor of Science in medical sciences degree program is currently under reviews by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS/COC). Matriculation into the program is contingent upon SACS/COC approval.