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Released March 30, 2004

By Angela Cutrer

HATTIESBURG -- The University of Southern Mississippi's newly approved Allied Health program will offer graduates of community college allied health programs the opportunity to enhance their skills and employment options in allied health management or allied health education.

"The Allied Health degree is a cooperative venture with the community colleges to meet the needs of allied health care professionals in south Mississippi," said Dr. Joan Exline, interim dean of the College of Health. "This degree will allow allied health professionals to obtain additional education and create promotional opportunities for them."

The program, approved last week by the Institutions of Higher Education, will assist community college graduates of programs such as respiratory care, radiology technology, and dental hygiene. Initially, the program will be offered via traditional instructional routes and with current online courses reviewed by the Academic Council regarding delivery and library support. Student advisement will be managed by the Community Health faculty.

According to the paperwork turned in to IHL by officials of the College of Health, the curriculum of the Allied Health baccalaureate program includes a core set of courses in community health and health promotion that all students are required to complete. Students will select either the health management or education emphasis area for additional coursework, depending on their career goals. The program will use existing courses, faculty, and facilities and will be administered within an existing department.

Since the Community Health bachelor of science degree is currently offered on campus, the Allied Health degree program can utilize many of the courses already offered by the Community Health degree program, as well as courses from other degree programs, including Medical Technology, Nutrition, Nursing, Speech and Hearing, Social Work, and Technology Education.

The university wanted to include the Allied Health program because the state of Mississippi does not have a similar program to assist two-year allied health graduates with career advancement. The only programs for the two-year allied health professional are discipline-specific offered only at the graduate level or offered in other states.

"In conversations with allied health faculty at Pearl River Community College, we found that there was student interest," Exline said. In addition, three other community colleges with allied health programs - Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Copiah-Lincoln Community College and Meridian Community College - are located within a two-hour radius of Hattiesburg. With this program in place, university officials say that graduates of the baccalaureate Allied Health program would be more capable of assuming managerial and educational roles in the state.

"This new Allied Health baccalaureate program will provide associate degree allied health graduates the opportunity of obtaining educational coursework required for managerial or educational positions," said Dr. Jane Hudson, interim associate dean of the College of Health. "The university looks forward to working with graduates of the associate degree allied health programs as they advance in their careers and endeavor to provide better health care for the citizens of Mississippi."



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April 2, 2004 3:02 PM