Development of a Health Science Division

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Karen Montalto, PhD
Rowan College at Burlington County, New Jersey, Burlington, NJ, USA
Karen Rose, PhD
University of Tennessee, College of Nursing, Knoxville, Knoxville, TX, USA
Jeanette Lancaster, PhD
Associate at Tufts Executive Search Firm. Retired as nursing professor., Vonore, TN, USA

A brief search in the State of New Jersey under the heading “Health Science Careers” initially reveals over 800 job vacancies. When Rowan College began enrolling students over 50 years ago, the title “health sciences” did not exist. The college was formed with two divisions, liberal arts and science, technology, engineering and math or “STEM”. Health science education was initially placed under the STEM division. There was slow growth in the development of health science programs, with almost no growth over the last ten years.

This past year, changes within the college and the county became the catalyst to create a Health Science Division. Literature support for colleges to collaborate with healthcare institutions in the education of healthcare workers has been on the forefront of educational model change for years. The president of Rowan College in Burlington County formed a partnership with a large area healthcare system that has resulted in the redesign and reevaluation of health science education. New programs have been developed and others proposed as county and hospital resources are examined and consolidated. The workforce development institute for the county, as well as the county technical institute have joined the initiative, creating educational reform at the high school, associate degree, baccalaureate degree and adult career educational levels.

Development of new initiatives involves coordinating meetings with educators, directors and hospital leaders on a weekly basis. Information gained from participation in the Emerging Educational Administrator’s Institute (EEAI) through Sigma Theta Tau has been an invaluable asset in my ability to coordinate these initiatives. I have utilized practical information gained from participating with mentors through EEAI related to influencing and leading change on a daily basis.

The committee’s work is ongoing; however, this year I have developed new associate degree and career certificate programs and moved them through the college, county and state approval levels for implementation in the 2017-2018 academic year. Initial committee projects have involved a viability evaluation of current health science educational offerings, initiatives to change curricula, and the establishment of “3+1” health science programs which allow students to transition from associate degree to baccalaureate degree education at reduced tuition cost. A systematic approach to evaluating program viability through the lens of both employers and educators has resulted in a sound platform to change educational offerings provided by the college to benefit all involved.