By Kate Hunger
Spring and summer graduates from the School of Health Professions programs are beginning their careers at a time of significant challenge. Faculty and department leaders share their accomplishments and reflect on their hopes for the students as they launch their careers in the health professions.
Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
Thirty-five students graduated from the Speech-Language Pathology master’s program this spring — the second graduating class of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.
“We are grateful for the Class of 2020 and the resilience and tenacity shown particularly during these unprecedented times,” said Assistant Professor and Clinical Coordinator Angela Kennedy, SLP-D, CCC-SLP. “May each of them take the experiences obtained during their tenure at UT Health San Antonio and continue to engage and positively impact their communities through the provision of excellent health care.”
A student-coordinated virtual celebration is planned for May 31.
Department of Emergency Health Sciences
The Department of Emergency Health Sciences graduated students in the following programs:
• Emergency Medical Technician: 23 students
• San Antonio Fire Department Paramedic Class 54: 27 students
• Civilian Paramedic Class: 23 students
• Bachelor of Science: 10 students graduated in May; three will graduate in August and 12 in December
“The COVID pandemic delayed the Department of Emergency Health Sciences’ civilian paramedic program by several weeks, but the department’s accrediting agency allowed the department to create specialized practicum experiences that enabled the cohort to graduate a few weeks later than originally scheduled, said Lance Villers, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of Emergency Health Sciences.
Division of Respiratory Care
Seven students graduated from the Respiratory Care bachelor’s program this spring.
“I am excited to have these highly trained professionals graduate and join the frontlines fighting disease and death in our community,” said Respiratory Care Program Director and Associate Professor Richard Wettstein, MMEd, RRT, FAARC. “I pray they maintain their enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge to become excellent clinicians and patient advocates.”
There are plans to celebrate the bachelor’s graduates at the end of summer with the master’s program graduates, as circumstances allow, Wettstein said.
Division of Medical Laboratory Sciences
The Division of Medical Laboratory Sciences will graduate one bachelor’s student in June and 25 master’s students in August.
Most of the summer graduates have found positions in San Antonio laboratories, while several have been trained in high-complexity testing and are part of a hospital’s SARS-CoV-2 testing team, said Medical Laboratory Sciences Program Director and Assistant Professor Gerardo Ramos, MS, Ph.D. MLS (ASCP), F-ABFT. Some students who wish to continue their education have applied to the School’s Ph.D. in Health Sciences program.
“The graduates of 2020 will forever remember their graduation and graduating classmates as they embark on to their next journey,” Ramos said. “We are extremely proud and honored to stand by them as they continue to change the world.”
A decision on the graduation ceremony will not be made until July, Ramos said.
Department of Physical Therapy
Thirty-nine DPT students graduated this spring, and a ceremony and reception are scheduled for Aug. 1 if restrictions permit, said Associate Professor and Interim Department Chair Greg Ernst, PT, Ph.D., ECS.
The members of the graduating class have “provided thousands of hours of community service, demonstrated professionalism and altruism while taking care of patients, produced quality research for dissemination to other professionals, and have been a joy for faculty to develop as professionals,” Ernst said. “We look forward to continued interaction with our graduates as they give back to the university and the community.”