Universities Announce New Initiatives In Education And Healthcare

By CityTownInfo.com Staff
February 10, 2009

Two universities have announced new programs geared towards helping students better meet job demands in education and healthcare.

The University of Texas at Austin announced the creation of an endowed chair focused on helping teachers incorporate technology in the classroom. The endowment was created by John H. and Elizabeth "Libba" Shatto Massey, who donated $1.5 million. Funds from the endowment will be used to engage a scholar who will advance technology use in teacher education, as well as for education conferences and visiting scholars.

"This latest donation addresses a core priority in the college, which is to be leaders in innovation and science-driven teacher education," noted Manuel Justiz, dean of the school's College of Education, in Austin Business Journal.

Meanwhile, Ohio State University and Columbus State Community College are working on a new program focused on connecting community college students to medical professions. The program, which is being called the Pipeline to Medical Colleges Initiative, targets community college students from rural areas and ethnic minority students in those regions who show interest in the healthcare field.

Ohio State spokeswoman Amy Murray noted in Columbus Business First that the program would give Columbus State students access to facilities from OSU and at least one undergraduate course each quarter. The initiative would also provide financial aid and guidance to encourage students to enroll in a four-year program leading to medical school and other health care professions.

While a goal of the program is to include more underrepresented demographic groups in the medical profession, it also addresses a need for more doctors in the coming decade. Last year, the College Board asked institutions of higher learning in Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to create initiatives encouraging more community college students to enroll in medical school.

But Murray noted that the program isn't solely limited to students interested in medical school. "There are also allied medical professions such as nursing and respiratory therapy," she said. "There's a need for all kinds of people in the medical field."

According to the American Association of Community Colleges, 59 percent of all new nurses and more than half of all healthcare workers in the country are educated at community colleges. In addition, nearly half of all students attending those institutions are from underrepresented groups.

Ronald Williams, vice president of the College Board, noted that the program addresses some of the challenges faced by community college students wishing to receive a medical degree. "The idea," he said, "is to try to help our four-year institutions and community colleges partner to solve some of our national workforce problems."

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