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A Healthy Outlook At
High Point University Expanding programs in the School of Health Sciences and proposed School of Pharmacy
High Point University is preparing students in its School of Health Sciences to meet a growing demand for healthcare professionals across the country. The timing couldn’t be better. The numbers show that demand will climb for the foreseeable future, particularly here in North Carolina. “These programs, revolving around an increased need for health care providers, will place HPU graduates in critical, professional roles throughout North Carolina and across the country,” says Dr.
Nido Qubein, High Point University president. During his tenure, the university has tripled in size and moved up to the No. 1 spot among Regional Colleges in the South, according to U.S. News & World Report. “One of the factors fueling the rate of job growth in healthcare and particularly with physical therapists and physician assistants is the graying of America and the consequences of obesity,” says Dr. Daniel Erb, dean of the School
of Health Sciences at High Point University, who hails from Duke University. “There is a definite need for healthcare that addresses those issues in all 100 counties in our state.” North Carolina isn’t alone. According to a 2010 study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, healthcare already represents 18% of the U.S. economy. The report estimates that by 2020, about 13% of all American jobs will be in the healthcare industry.
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Statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor support this, showing the demand for both healthcare services and providers will grow by 39% nationwide over the next seven years.
Impacting Healthcare and North Carolina
The School of Health Sciences currently enrolls students in exercise science and athletic training undergraduate programs. Proposed graduate programs in physician assistant studies and physical therapy will be phased in beginning 2015. The School of Pharmacy is proposed to open in 2016, with pre-pharmacy students enrolling at HPU in fall 2014. In 2015, High Point University will begin construction on a 170,000-square-foot, state-of-theart facility for the schools. More than 90 faculty and staff will lead 700 students in programs that will be based in the building. Together, the programs and facilities will be a cornerstone for medical-related innovation at the university. Along with preparing graduates for in-demand careers, the jobs and activity generated by the schools will provide an economic boost to the Piedmont Triad. The estimated economic impact of
the programs is $90 million, in addition to HPU’s current $464.5 million economic impact on the state of North Carolina.
Advanced Programs Built on HPU’s Solid Foundation
Leadership and faculty at High Point University are taking a longterm outlook on student success. “We’re not preparing students just to find jobs when they graduate,” says Erb. “We’re preparing them to function in a healthcare system for the next 40 to 50 years.” Erb became dean of the school in 2011 after serving as the director of Graduate Studies and associate professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Division in the Department of Community and Family Medicine at Duke University Medical Center for 11 years. He and other faculty say High Point University has several differentiated advantages over other programs. For one thing, he says the university has assembled a prestigious and highly published faculty to guide its stu-
dents. And, these faculty members are already working on innovative research projects that will form the basis of graduate and undergraduate programs moving forward. “Students are working side by side with individuals who will help guide what future practice will become,” says Erb. “Rather than reading about it and trying to use it in the clinic later, they will experience it firsthand right now.” This fits with the university’s core tenet of experiential learning. High Point University students in every field of study are given unique opportunities to put the skills they learn in the classroom to practical use before they hit the job market.
Master Clinicians, Accomplished Researchers
For instance, students who want to become physical therapists are working with Dr. Eric Hegedus, professor and founding chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, on his Targeted Enhanced Athletic Movement (T.E.A.M.) screen app,
TOP: Dr. Kevin Ford is the director of the Human Biomechanics and Physiology Lab, which houses state-of-the-art technology like the 3D motion analysis system. Faculty and student researchers can document how the body responds during each individual movement through sensors, high-speed motion capture cameras, force plates, and much more.
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which helps predict and prevent injuries by pinpointing inefficient movements. Hegedus has been an innovator and leader in physical therapy for 20 years, having previously served as vice-chief in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Division at Duke University. Students have also been involved with Dr. Alexis Wright’s study to determine the most effective treatment of patients with shoulder pain. Wright is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists, who has published more than 20 peer-reviewed manuscripts on orthopaedics, manual therapy, and outcomes-based treatments. The results of the study could have a lasting impact in her field, as the chosen treatment has the potential to improve practice for physical therapists around the world. Dr. Kevin Ford, meanwhile, specializes in biomechanics and injury prevention. He is an associate professor of physical therapy and director of HPU’s new Human Biomechanics and Physiology Lab. He currently works with students to examine an injury that impacts numerous youth – ACL or knee injuries in sports such as soccer, basketball and volleyball. The research, funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health,
focuses on how growth spurts during puberty may contribute to the risk of knee injuries in young female athletes. It is being finalized in the HPU lab. “The purpose of this research is to eventually reduce devastating ACL injuries in certain sports,” says Ford.
High Point University students are given unique opportunities to put the skills they learn in the classroom to practical use before they enter the job market. “All the research our faculty is doing is tied in with an emphasis on teaching,” says Erb. “Last year, the School of Health Sciences had more than 51 peer-reviewed publications. Some involved students. They are getting that exposure, but every faculty member we’re hiring has this desire to be an excellent teacher as well as a master clinician and accomplished researcher.”
Unparalleled Technology and Facilities
Another unique aspect of High Point University’s School of Health Sciences is the interdisciplinary approach of its programs. “We’re planning a curriculum with classes that physical thera-
HPU Programs Will Fill Demand in the Marketplace Job Title Physical Therapists
Increase in Demand for Healthcare Providers
Average Starting Salaries
pists and physician assistants will take together so they have an understanding of each other’s scope of practice,” says Erb. They will also work side-by-side in the 13,150-square-foot Human Biomechanics and Physiology Lab. Opened in November 2012, the lab features state-of-the-art
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
technology that faculty, students and healthcare professionals use to help rehabilitate patients with orthopedic and sports injuries or train them to avoid injury. A 24-camera motion analysis system, environmental chamber, DEXA scanner, and anti-gravity treadmill are among the high-tech equipment students will use as they gather data for groundbreaking research. “There are not a lot of places where undergrad students can go and get this level of hands-on work with equipment like this,” says Ford, who has published more than 80 peer-reviewed articles that have been referenced in leading medical journals, such as the British Medical Journal and American Journal of Sports Medicine. “Most of the time, you see labs like this, where doctoral students are the only ones getting to have the experience.” Ford said the lab gives High Point University undergrads a jump on their peers once they enter the job market. “Whatever they do after college, our students go into it with practical experiences learned in this lab that they can apply,” says Ford. “This lab and all the instrumentation complements what they learn in the classroom. They see the textbook come to life.”
Pharmacy Focused on Patient Care
Soon, students of High Point University’s proposed School of Pharmacy will be getting the
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same kind of hands-on experience. Dr. Ronald Ragan, dean of the School of Pharmacy, previously developed new academic and assessment programs at the highly respected pharmacy school at the University of Kansas. He has more than 25 years of experience as a community and hospital pharmacist and educator and holds a Ph.D. in pharmacology and toxicology.
pre-pharmacy program, benefiting from the liberal arts education High Point University provides. Then, they begin a four-year professional program, the final year of which is spent in the field, going through a series of nine, one-month clinical experiences. “The student becomes a pharmacist supervised by a clinician at the site,” says Ragan. “We don’t want them to be a
“We’re preparing High Point University students to function in a healthcare system for the next 40 to 50 years.” Dr. Ragan has developed a curriculum for High Point University at a critical time in pharmacology. He says the field is evolving quickly, giving pharmacists new opportunities they haven’t had before. By the time they graduate, High Point University School of Pharmacy students will be wellrounded, says Ragan. They will go through a traditional two-year
passive observer. We work hard to find good quality sites that have clinicians who enjoy teaching and helping young professionals learn how to provide care.”
The HPU Advantage
The structure of High Point University’s developing programs in physical therapy, physician assistant studies and pharmacy, coupled with the distinguished
The proposed School of Pharmacy at High Point University will prepare students with a focus on patient care and a wealth of clinical experience before they graduate, giving them an advantage when they commence their career. faculty shaping the programs and planned state-of-the-art facilities, offers a clear advantage to future healthcare providers educated at HPU. Along with numerous job opportunities, they will graduate with an in-depth clinical background, breaking research experience and a true focus on patient care — all before they ever step foot into their first full-time healthcare career. “These are programs that will allow our graduates to find flourishing career opportunities quickly after they graduate, if not before,” says President Qubein. “Our students will provide care for individuals in the Piedmont Triad, in North Carolina, across the United States, and throughout the world.”
At High Point University, every student receives an extraordinary education in an inspiring environment with caring people. For more information, visit www.highpoint.edu.
HPU Featured in Our State Magazine in October 2013.