Extraordinary education.

 
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There's a Chinese proverb that reflects High Point University's approach to learning:

"I hear and I forget; I see and I may remember; I do and I understand."

The HPU experience focuses on holistic education. Students not only gain knowledge, they learn how to apply it. They work hard in the classroom, in the laboratory and in the solitude of scholarship, yet their innovative campus offers continuous inspiration and opportunity for connection. Faculty support students' personal growth and success while staff prepare them to lead and create value in the marketplace. And experiential learning opportunities provide professional development.

In short, HPU bridges the chasm between classroom content and real-world context.

Employers appreciate HPU's holistic approach to learning. They see the rewards in attracting HPU graduates and offering internships to students. Parent and Child Magazine hired Olivia French, pictured right, as an intern for two consecutive summers. The national publication, based in New York City, allowed French to conduct research for stories, gain by-lines and publish her own pieces for thousands of readers to see.

"Preparing to graduate has triggered a deep reflection on my time here. This has been a 'total' educational experience, in a place where opportunities were plentiful and where the education extended beyond the four walls of an academic building," says French. "High Point University provides its students with not only an extraordinary education, but the ability to become an extraordinary individual, and ultimately an extraordinary future leader. I'm leaving HPU with a lot to live up to. Yet, I'm up to the challenge."

French is unique, but her experiences stem from the same DNA found in the HPU education: extraordinary.

Preparing students for health care careers of tomorrow

Health care professionals answer a crucial calling.

They take an oath to serve humanity in all of its complexities, mysteries and surprises.

From the boardroom to the classroom, HPU's values-based education has prepared thousands of graduates to lead in relevant fields. The next transformational journey will also prepare future leaders for the health care careers of tomorrow, meeting the growing demands for practitioners around the world.

New faculty, facilities, technology and curricula are being put into place now for physician assistant, pharmacy and physical therapy programs, all slated to launch in phases. It begins this year with PA studies.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these fields will grow up to 38 percent in the next 10 years, well beyond the average rate of job growth for other professions.

These programs will put HPU students at the heart of medical research and patient care as graduates enter a world with a high demand for health care providers who can tackle challenges in a changing landscape. They'll treat individuals across the world as they enhance our quality of life. It's a journey that starts on this campus.

The Growing Demand for PAs

HPU's School of Health Sciences, which already houses undergraduate and graduate programs in exercise science and athletic training, will launch a new Physician Assistant Studies program in 2015. The program will equip students to work in a field where 78 percent of graduates have multiple job offers, according to the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.

The Department of Physician Assistant Studies is currently next to the Department of Physical Therapy and its Human Biomechanics and Physiology Lab. The two departments will move to the $85 million School of Health Sciences building upon completion in 2017.

Two medical simulation labs in the current PA facility feature leading technology. This includes four high-fidelity, wireless mannequins, one of which gives birth to a simulated baby. Stan, a male mannequin that appeared in a "Grey's Anatomy" episode, can talk, bleed, cry, convulse and respond physiologically to scores of intravenous and inhaled medications. Faculty in an adjacent control room can alter Stan's physical responses to students' actions, causing him to have increased heart rate, change in temperature, allergic reactions and much more.

Dr. Linda Sekhon, founding chair of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies, says that incorporating high fidelity mannequins into the classroom allows students to practice providing clinical care to a patient without risk.

"PA students need to learn in an environment where they can develop the metacognitive skills required to practice medicine before they enter the workforce," says Sekhon. "This type of medical simulation prepares our graduates for careers that are not only in demand, but crucial to society."

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, HPU programs will fill demand for medical practitioners in the marketplace.

In addition to the medical simulation labs, the department includes three patient exam rooms for working with live patients, rooms to facilitate problem-based learning, and a clinical skills lab for demonstration and practice of medical techniques such as suturing.

Sekhon says the outstanding facility and faculty in place rival top PA programs around the country. Hailing from prestigious PA programs at Duquesne University, the University of New Mexico, Wake Forest University, Indiana University and others, HPU's faculty have been recognized for their excellence in teaching as well as their expertise in health care. Their experience in medical specialties includes rheumatology, pediatrics, orthopedics, urology and family medicine. As the program grows, they will represent hundreds of years of combined experience.

"As one of the largest employers of physicians in the Piedmont Triad, Cornerstone Health Care is thrilled to be working closely with the PA program staff," says Dr. John Walker, COO of Cornerstone Health Care in High Point and member of the PA program's advisory board. "The quality of education students will receive at HPU will be outstanding, and we look forward to hiring many of them as we continue to move to a health care delivery model that stresses improvements in quality, reduction in cost, and an unparalleled patient experience."

The Future of Pharmacy

Soon, students of High Point University's School of Pharmacy will get hands-on experience that prepares them to care for and communicate with patients on a daily basis. Dr. Ronald Ragan, dean of the School of Pharmacy, who previously developed new classroom and experiential opportunities at the highly respected University of Kansas School of Pharmacy, is leading the development of HPU's new school. 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.

Ragan and newly appointed faculty have developed a curriculum for the six-year program that connects community pharmacy roles with basic science and clinical skills. It is currently being reviewed by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. He notes that it is a critical time in the field as pharmacy is evolving quickly, presenting new opportunities and new challenges.

"Health care is changing from providers who work in silos to providers who work together in a team-based approach," says Ragan. "We will demonstrate collaboration in our curriculum, classrooms and clinical sites."

By the time they graduate, HPU pharmacy students will be well-prepared for the workforce. They will go through a traditional two-year 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 passive observers. We are building relationships with quality sites that have clinicians who enjoy teaching and helping young professionals learn how to provide care."

Faculty are also building a research department for the school that will serve as a core component of the curriculum. The research will focus on discovering new molecules and medications, as well as better ways to treat patients with existing medications.

"Our research department will provide teaching opportunities for students, but the research conducted there will also have an impact on the drug therapy options that exist in our health care system," says Ragan.

Physical Therapists Helping 'Active Agers'

Physical therapists have seen the passion that aging baby boomers have for staying active. No longer do individuals retire to a rocking chair. Today, they retire to a life of physical activity and adventure.

Helping those individuals stay mobile and accomplish their dreams is crucial as the graying population of America increases. Physical therapists accomplish this by enhancing athletic performance, rehabilitating injuries and researching injury prevention techniques to prevent problems before they begin. In short, physical therapists are experts in restoring, maintaining and improving function.

"There is a definite need for health care that addresses these issues in every state and in countries around the world," says Dr. Dan Erb, dean of the School of Health Sciences.

Dr. Eric Hegedus, founding chair of the department who hails from Duke University, leads the PT doctoral program development, which is scheduled to accept its first cohort in 2017. He's put together the two most important pieces of the program: faculty with distinguished credentials and technology that's second to none.

The esteemed professors come to HPU from institutions including Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, Cincinnati Children's Hospital and the University of Otago in New Zealand. They have achieved major milestones in their careers, such as publishing hundreds of peer-reviewed research articles, some of which...

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