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April 28, 2006

ULM announces new Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences program

On Friday, the Louisiana Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System voted to implement the Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences program at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, a program that will attract a large variety of students and positively impact Louisiana's economy. The Louisiana Board of Regents approved the request on Thursday.

Not only will ULM's new program benefit the state, it will greatly help ULM students, President Dr. James E. Cofer, Sr. said. "Almost 40 percent of health science majors leave the institution by their junior year because of the limited enrollments in the professional health science programs. The new BSHS programs gives these students a viable career path in the health sciences."

Because the Occupational Therapy Accrediting Body will no longer accredit bachelor's degree programs in occupational therapy (effective Jan. 1, 2007), the boards voted to eliminate ULM's Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy. The boards also voted to withdraw the Master of Occupational Therapy proposal.

The BSHS program will support significantly more students than the proposed MOT program. While an MOT program would only support 34 students, the BSHS program would support 190 BSHS majors and approximately 600 students majoring in other health science degrees, Cofer said. "We have 600 to 700 first-time freshmen wanting to major either in the allied health sciences, pharmacy, nursing, pre-med, pre-vet, or pre-dental. With its diverse curriculum, the BSHS program serves as the ideal department to house these students as well as positively affect retention by providing alternate career paths."

A multi-option program, the BSHS program will better prepare students for one or more of the following career options:

Dr. Jessica Dolecheck, who has taught in the Occupational Therapy program at ULM for the past 11 years, will develop the BSHS program. She will utilize off-campus consultants together with ULM faculty in biology, chemistry, management, marketing, pharmacy and other allied health programs.

Administered by the Department of Health Studies and housed in the ULM College of Health Sciences, the BSHS program will answer existing healthcare needs, Dolecheck said.

"Current market research indicates that graduates with a health sciences degree have excellent job prospects as managers and leaders in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and health care foundations, child health research, and health/fitness organizations."

According to the Louisiana Department of Labor, approximately 30,000 health services positions will need to be filled within the state during the decade ending in 2010.

"The program is an excellent fit for ULM," said Commissioner of Higher Education Joseph Savoie. "There is a built-in market for a health sciences baccalaureate in the region. I'm confident that the program will attract a wide range of students with diverse health care career goals. This is an excellent example of a university providing for the needs of the community in which it operates."

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