WMU News

Two new doctoral programs to bolster health education

Dec. 9, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University will offer two new doctoral programs to bolster offerings in the health education fields of audiology and interdisciplinary health studies.

The two new degrees, a doctor of audiology and doctor of philosophy in interdisciplinary health studies, will be offered through the WMU College of Health and Human Services. The WMU Board of Trustees approved the two programs at its Dec. 7 meeting.

The doctor of audiology program is designed to prepare audiology practitioners to meet the accreditation standards of the Council on Professional Standards of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. The association has established new clinical certification standards that include a doctorate as the entry-level degree for the practice of audiology.

ASHA's preferred doctoral degree is a doctor of audiology. The degree is not a teaching and research degree, but a professional doctorate designed to replace the master's degree in the new professional standards.

Students completing the new doctoral program will meet association standards for certification. The program is to begin in fall 2003, with six new students admitted each year.

The new doctor of philosophy in interdisciplinary health studies is designed to meet the career advancement needs of working health and human service professionals.

Several recent national commissions, including the Pew Health Professions Commission and the National Commission on Allied Health, have challenged higher educational institutions to

respond to the fundamental changes occurring in health care by designing more flexible curricula, removing disciplinary boundaries and increasing research in allied health.

The College of Health and Human Services is meeting this challenge by developing a unique student-centered curriculum that focuses on an interdisciplinary core curriculum and strong research preparation. In order to meet the needs of working professionals, courses will be delivered through intensive weekend and summer on-campus sessions as well as distance learning tools.

The program's interdisciplinary core and research preparation will provide the knowledge and understanding necessary for all health and human services professionals to function effectively in new settings. An extensive needs assessment has found that almost 60 percent of prospective students thought the program would help them professionally, and 65 percent of educational institutions and 48 percent of health and human service organizations plan to hire doctorate-prepared graduates in the next seven years.

The program is to begin in fall 2002, with a projected enrollment of a cohort of up to 12 students distributed evenly through the college's disciplines entering the program once every two years.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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