Graduate Council Advisory Committee
Lister Hill Library, room G08
Wednesday, April 8, 2014

Members present: Puri Bangalore, Alan Eberhardt, Stacey Cofield, Ken Miller, Jim Collawn, Kyle, Grimes, Lynn Kirkland, Bryan Noe, Susan Rich, Jeff Engler, David Vance, Roderick Fullard

Staff: Thomas Harris, Cyndi Ballinger, Susan Noblitt Banks

Guest: Drs. Retta Evans and Lynn Kirkland, Dr. Donna Slovensky and Mr. Norman Bolus, Scott Buchalter, and Dr. Donna Arnett

Agenda Items:

The meeting began with the introduction of ADCOM members and guests.

The first action item on the agenda was a proposal for a certificate in Health Education from the Education School. Drs. Retta Evans and Lynn Kirkland gave a summary of the proposal and responded to questions from the committee. The certificate will intended for students that want to gain experience and exposure to planning, implementing, and evaluating health intervention programs. Emphasis is placed on students that do not have a specific degree in health education but want to gain training in health intervention approaches. The courses in the program were developed based on the national commission for health education credentialing; the governing body. All of the courses are offered online. The certificate will not require development of any new courses.  An ADCOM member asked if students will be expected to have backgrounds in health and biology. Response: Students who will be attracted to the program may or may not have health backgrounds. The certificate program is arranged so that students can learn about potential interventions and how to effectively plan interventions. The courses are designed around a particular health topic chosen by the student. As part of the requirement for implementing an intervention, students will complete the courses and assessments as well as a literature review to build a knowledge base within each of the courses.  An ADCOM member asked for clarification regarding job projections once the certificate has been earned. Response: Earning the certificate will provide the experience needed to effectively plan and implement a program in health education. An ADCOM member asked about oversight and follow up assessments to see where students end up in the field. Response: No assessments are currently built in but proposers are open to suggestions on how assessments might work. An ADCOM member suggested that data to determine whether the students are actually getting the appropriate job opportunities would be a helpful assessment of the relative success of the certificate program. An ADCOM member asked if there will be a need for the students to take an exam as part of earning the certificate. Response: The courses are designed to meet the national competency requirements. Students will have to have more course work than just the certificate courses to be able to sit for the national certification health education exam.  An ADCOM member asked for more clarification on what earning the certificate will be sufficient for.  Response: Many but not all positions require national certification.  Committee members recommended adding verbiage that would encourage students to plan their course of study to aim for earning national certification.  An ADCOM member asked about the potential need for prospective students to have prior knowledge on health topics. Response: The appropriate knowledge content is built into the courses.  One of the key requirements for planning an effective program is to include on the planning committee an expert for each topic area to help appropriately plan and implement the program.  An ADCOM member asked if the students will have a faculty expert who will assess students’ progress through the program. Response: Ultimately the course Director has to ensure the information included is accurate by engaging appropriate faculty in both the preparation and presentation of the course. An ADCOM member recommended having someone serve as a content mentor to the students.  ADCOM member asked if students entering the program will be required to have already declared a content area specialty and whether they could change their preference if they chose to. Response:  Students will be required to have a chosen topic area by the first class.  Based on prior experience, most students will have a preferred general area of interest which can change but few actually move into a different area of specialization.  An ADCOM asked about the types of health education programs certificate recipients will be able to implement. Response: Schools have a need for certified health educators on their core staff. Otherwise, they have to employ adjuncts. It was confirmed the certificate will be used to gain a set of skills and is not for licensing. A Motion to approve the proposal was made and seconded. No further discussion.  The certificate proposal was approved unanimously.

The second agenda item was review of a NISP from School of Health Professions for a Master of Science degree in Health Physics.  Responding to questions and comments were Dr. Donna Slovensky and Mr. Norman Bolus. There has been a desire for a number of years to develop a Health Physics program at UAB. There are only twenty such programs nationwide.  The timing for the new program is good as UAB has obtained the largest medical cyclotron unit in the United States. It is now operational in the new advanced imaging facility within the hospital. The development of the program will be a joint effort between the Radiation Safety Officer, Occupational Health and Safety, Radiology, and Physics. An ADCOM member representing the science departments stated support for the new program and a desire to be involved with the design and implementation if approved. An ADCOM member representing engineering also stated his school can play a role and asked to be invited to participate in the planning for the new program. An ADCOM member asked if the program will be unique in the state. Response: It will be the only program in Alabama with the closest school having  similar program being Georgia Tech. An ADCOM member asked about potential collaboration possibilities with other local schools or medical facilities. Response: The plan will be to offer internships in other states as the program grows, but there are areas in which collaborations can be arranged with other schools or medical facilities in the state. An ADCOM member asked what the curriculum would look like.  A Health Physicist in general is charged with assuring radiation safety within the workplace. There are several forms of radiation, ionized vs non-ionized radiation as well as laser safety which the student would need a background in. Health Physicists are the ones that make sure that all federal regulations are adhered to. The students generally have been to Physics majors.   An ADCOM member asked why there are so few programs in the country. Response:  The programs are very costly and difficult to maintain. The basic equipment is very expensive. An ADCOM member asked a question related to agenda Item number 3 by asking for an explanation of the differences between the two new degree programs being proposed, Health Physics and Nuclear Medical Technology. Response: The two programs are completely separate from each other. Both programs will grant a Master’s of Science degree.  An ADCOM member for a better differentiation of the two degrees and a description of differences in jobs for which the degree recipients will be prepared. Response: Nuclear Medical Technology is specifically a diagnostic, therapy, and imaging field that resides in medical school Radiology departments. Health Physics is a separate field that prepares individuals to serve as Radiation Safety Officers. The former requires patient contact of the worker. The latter worker makes sure the equipment and regulations are adhered to. A Motion to approve this NISP was made and seconded.  The committee voted unanimously to approve.

The third agenda item was the review of a NISP from School of Health Professions for a Master of Science degree in Nuclear Medical Technology.  Responding to questions and comments were Dr. Donna Slovensky and Mr. Norman Bolus. There is an existing Bachelors degree in Nuclear Medical Technology. The proposal is to elevating that degree to the Masters level. The amount of information that degree recipients now need to be able to competently perform their work is increasing dramatically.  Molecular Imaging involves much more than what has been traditionally done in Nuclear Medicine. The prerequisites include upper level biology, physics, chemistry, immunology, cell biology, microbiology and molecular genetics. With the requirements for an increase of basic knowledge in the field, now is an appropriate time to elevate the degree to the Master’s level. There are four other programs across the nation that are currently making this same change. An ADCOM member asked if students who have finished with the bachelors have any problems with finding a position in the job market.  Response: As in most of health care, there has been a freeze on hiring the last few years. Most of the former graduates have been getting part time positions. Full time positions have been hard to find. However, over the last two years there has been 80% placement rate. An ADCOM member asked whether this degree be a logical add on for students who are currently in medical school and interested in going into Radiology.  Response: The clinical training would be experience that most of the students in the program would not have. But it would be unlikely that an M.D. in Radiology would need this Masters degree to adequately perform his/her duties.  An ADCOM member asked about the research component and whether students would be required to do a thesis. Response:  The program would be a non-thesis track with a capstone project. An ADCOM member suggested continued collaboration with natural science departments for the courses that are cross listed.  A Motion to approve was made and seconded.  The committee voted unanimously to approve.

The fourth agenda item was the review of a full proposal from School of Health Professions for a new Master of Science in Healthcare Quality and Safety degree.  Responding to questions and comments were Dr. Donna Slovensky and Scott Buchalter. The master’s degree program will be an extension of an existing certificate program. It will incorporate the 15 hours that are required for the current graduate certificate.  Many of the students will be part time because most will be employed health professionals who are seeking to either further their education, to develop further what they are learning on the job, or to prepare for seeking new employment opportunities. Students who complete the certificate can complete the remaining courses to earn the Masters degree. Completing the degree will require 36 hours of course work, will not require a thesis, but will require an applied project in health care quality. An ADCOM member asked if there are students in the certificate program who have indicated they would be interested in continuing on to earn a master’s degree. Response: About two thirds (twenty to thirty) of the current certificate students have expressed interest in the master’s degree. An ADCOM member asked if credits will be carried forward. Response: Yes, credits will be carried from the certificate program to the masters program. An ADCOM member expressed concern with potential overlap with the MPH in health care organization. Response:  Almost every health care professional needs to have a foundational skills in certain areas like quantitative methods and quality improvement. The focus for this degree is particularly on the foundational skills in quality improvement but also in leadership in program quality improvement. Graduate will have competency in designing programs and hiring and evaluating professionals, charting health improvement teams and working with organizational processes. An ADCOM member asked what the need is for this particular program opposed to the MSHA program that is already in place. Response: The MSHA program is a broad based program in health care management and health care leadership. It includes operational management, financial management, and personnel management.  All aspects of managing, organizing, evaluating health care delivery.  Within that, there are processes specifically to assess and improve the delivery of health care and the operational processes of delivery of care including efficiency, effectiveness, and clinical outcomes management. Those are the subsets of skills on which the MHSA is focused. The students are not getting personnel management training; rather they are getting development of teamwork skills. An ADCOM member inquired regarding admissions requirements and whether a standardized admissions test would be required. Response:  Admissions requirements have not yet been established.  GRE will not be required scores as most applicants will be employed health professionals.  A Motion to approve the proposal was made a seconded.  The committee members voted unanimously to approve.

The fifth agenda item was the review of a proposal from the School of Public Health for a Dual MD / MSPH degree. Dr. Donna Arnett led the discussion and provided the justification for the new degree.  This degree will extend the MD/MPH in its current form. It has been approved by the MD/MPH committee as well. The new degree will provide a research track for the new clinical and translational science award and allows trainees to gain quantitative skills in epidemiology and biostatistics. The students will complete a master’s project. The students must first be admitted to the medical school before they can be considered for the joint program. The students can complete the requirements over the four years of medical school or they can take off a year and complete them during the third year and complete the project in the fifth year. The curriculum is 41 hours of course work with 34 hours in public health and 8 hours in the school of medicine. An ADCOM member asked why an option for students take off between the 3rd and 4th year to complete requirements is being proposed. Response: That is historically what the MD/MPH has done, but with the four year option, things are evolving.  Most students do not like interrupting their medical raining so most are opting to do the MSPH in their last year. An ADCOM member asked how the degree relates to preparation for careers in public health. Response:  There are various forms of translational research. This degree will prepare recipients to span the spectrum of clinical trials to the community of translational research. The individual course requirements are weighted heavily toward biostatistics and epidemiology. The curriculum includes foundations of clinical research which is a true clinical research curriculum where students learn about the FDA and randomized clinical trials. Then there are 9 credit hours of research which involves human subjects.  An  ADCOM member asked about potential partnerships. Response: There will be overlap with scientists in both public health and medicine. An ADCOM member found a credit hour discrepancy in the proposal that will need to be changed. Medical School credits cannot be used toward requirement of the master’s degree. An  ADCOM member asked about how students pay the tuition.  Response: Students pay for the additional forty credits out of pocket. An ADCOM member asked if students would be required to complete a master’s thesis. Response: Yes the students will complete a traditional thesis that will be approved by their committee.  An ADCOM member questioned how the dual programs actually work. Response: In the four year MD/MPH, when letters of acceptance are sent, is a description of the program is included. The hope is that students will enroll at the beginning of their medical training which gives the student maximum flexibility to take summer courses before medical school starts. An ADCOM member asked how many students are currently in the program. Response: There are currently six to nine, with six entering each year. The MD matriculation total in medical school  is 196.  An ADCOM member asked if there are other dual collaboration degree programs at UAB.  Response:  There was one in Nursing. Many of the courses distance education courses.  An ADCOM member asked about the logistics of the approval process.  Response:  It will be presented as an information item to the UA Board. Students must complete both degrees and will be awarded two diplomas. An ADCOM member made a motion to approve. The motion was seconded. The Committee membership voted unanimously to approve.

Information Item:

  1. NIH recommendation regarding employment of Individual Development Plans

The meeting adjourned at 4:20 p.m.