By: David Wolf and Kevin Hansen
Today’s healthcare leaders are faced with many challenges and dealing with the shortage of healthcare workers is extremely important. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects healthcare jobs to be among the fastest growing occupations between 2016 and 2026. However, healthcare has been experiencing a lack of qualified workers for several years, and the shortage continues to worsen. For most healthcare organizations, the workforce is their largest expense and human resources management has become a high priority. As healthcare leaders continually seek solutions, one key aspect of workforce planning is to ensure a readily available supply of properly educated and highly competent individuals to fill these needs. Organizations everywhere are now establishing relationships with universities as on ongoing strategy to continually generate a supply of qualified talented individuals.
Bellarmine University offers excellent academic programs that prepare students for a host of careers in the healthcare field. Students are well-prepared upon graduation to enter the workforce as competent, caring professionals to meet the needs of clients, patients, residents and their families in various care settings. Most academic programs at Bellarmine pair contemporary, relevant in-class learning from highly educated and industry-experienced faculty members with experiential learning gained through supervised clinical experiences and internships with community/regional/national healthcare partners. Bellarmine provides focused learning opportunities in the following areas:
Galileo Learning Community
To better prepare students to enter the healthcare workforce, Bellarmine University offers a unique program to first-year students interested in health and medical sciences known as the Galileo Learning Community. This program challenges students to think about the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and engages students in a multidisciplinary learning environment to understand healthcare from a broader perspective. The program aids in developing holistic providers of healthcare and services through the acquisition of technical expertise, focusing on care for the entire individual (not just a particular illness or disease). This learning community is also a key program to enhance student retention in health professions education.
Students in this field prepare for careers in health, wellness, nutrition, biomechanics, athletic training, physical therapy and medicine. This program teaches students how to improve athletic performance, maintain health and wellness, and prevent and treat chronic diseases faced by patients. The degree offers two educational tracks and utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to understand how physical activity behaviors, outcomes, and issues affect various health issues. A Master of Health Science and a Master of Science in Athletic Training is also available for students or practicing professionals seeking a graduate degree.
Health Services and Senior Living Leadership
The health services leadership program prepares students for a range of careers as leaders in health services and senior living, or for additional graduate education. The program helps students understand the broader context of health services delivery to prepare for careers as leaders of nursing homes, assisted living communities, and home- and community-based services organizations. The accredited-based curriculum focuses on many aspects of healthcare leadership and students directly apply their classroom-acquired knowledge during an internship, where they synthesize contemporary best practices to include operational, programmatic, financial, clinical, logistical, and technological aspects in the development and implementation of the organization’s strategic plan.
Medical Laboratory Sciences
Students graduating from the accredited Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) program are prepared to serve in hospital laboratories, research labs, forensic centers, and pharmaceutical labs, any many other healthcare settings. As part of their curriculum and internship experiences, students analyze blood cells and body fluids to identify disease-causing bacteria and viruses, and perform testing prior to transfusions and transplantations. The MLS program includes coursework, laboratory and practicum instruction a variety of settings and students may earn either an undergraduate or graduate degree.
Bellarmine’s accredited nursing program focuses on innovative and inter-professional teaching to prepare future nurses for careers in healthcare. Students benefit from a state-of-the-art simulation laboratory on campus as well as over 700 clinical hours with acute care and community organizations. In addition to the traditional 4-year undergraduate program, Bellarmine offers an accelerated 1-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree for students who possess a degree in another discipline, and now choose to seek a career in nursing. Bellarmine also offers a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.
Bellarmine is also meeting the needs of the healthcare workforce through its accredited radiation therapy program. Radiation Therapists are highly trained medical professionals who collaborate with a team to deliver ionizing radiation to patients for the eradication of pathology, primarily cancer. Radiation Therapy practice includes treatment delivery, medical dosimetry and patient care. These activities require a strong background in anatomy and physiology, physics, chemistry and mathematics to work in this highly specialized and rapidly advancing field.
The accredited respiratory program prepares students for future careers as registered respiratory therapists working with individuals who have heart and/or lung disorders. Graduating students are prepared to perform pulmonary function assessments, conduct breathing retraining and pulmonary rehabilitation, and engage in management of patients in need of ventilatory support, in a variety of care settings. The program also provides advance training to respiratory therapists through a Master of Health Science degree, allowing individuals to gain further competencies for respiratory therapy careers.
Physical Therapy Program
The accredited Doctor of Physical Therapy Program prepares students for licensure and practice in the field of physical therapy. These healthcare professionals provide service to individuals of all ages with physical impairments, functional limitations, disabilities or changes in physical function and health status resulting from injury, disease or other causes. Physical Therapists find careers in settings ranging from hospitals and rehabilitation centers to private practices, pediatric facilities, home health agencies, school systems, higher education and research institutions, fitness and wellness centers, and nursing homes.
While there many possible solutions to relieve the healthcare workforce shortage, the need for skilled, compassionate individuals pursuing careers in healthcare settings continues to grow. Bellarmine University is responding to this need by continually evaluating and developing its academic programming and community partnerships to prepare highly competent leaders for these healthcare-related careers.
-Kevin Hansen, PhD is an assistant professor in the department of Health Services and Senior Living Leadership. David Wolf, PhD, is the department chair and professor in the department of Health Sciences and Senior Living Leadership.