Wednesday, January 18, 2017 - 09:45

New Health Sciences Program Includes Interdisciplinary Curriculum, Providing Students Comprehensive Undergraduate Education

Interdisciplinary coursework, fieldwork and research opportunities cornerstones of unique program

Anatomy students

For more than a decade, Worcester’s education and healthcare industry has experienced a renaissance. According to a study sponsored by the city of Worcester, the sector grew by 35.5 percent between 2000 and in 2010 and by 2010, represented the single largest employment base in the city. As this industry continues to expand and dominate the regional economy, the need for healthcare-based education has become increasingly important. In response, Assumption College has announced its new health sciences major, an interdisciplinary program that will prepare students for a broad range of career opportunities in the growing field of healthcare, with applications to clinical practice, administration, policy development and research.

The College’s health sciences program draws from coursework in the natural sciences, disease and disability, and health care delivery and care models, as well as the economics, ethics and policies that drive global health care systems. Health sciences students are encouraged to customize their education by adding a concentration.  According to Associate Provost Kimberly A. Schandel, Ph.D., “students interested in becoming physicians, dentists, or physician assistants should pursue the health sciences major with a concentration in pre-clinical health professions, which will prepare them for admission to the relevant graduate and professional programs.  Concentrations in pre-physical therapy, pre-occupational therapy, and communication sciences and disorders are aligned with requirements for graduate programs in those specialties. Concentrations in public health and patient advocacy are in development.”

“The health sciences program creates a clear pathway for students with aspirations of contributing to the health care industry,” said Robert R. Caron, Sc.D., assistant professor and one of several architects of the Health Sciences program at Assumption. “When combined with our core curriculum, internships and volunteer opportunities, and the wide variety of other academic and co-curricular activities offered at Assumption College, the program is built to educate  health care industry professionals who are prepared to deal with the challenging and ever-changing landscape of health care in the United States.”

A unique aspect of the health sciences program is that it combines interdisciplinary coursework with meaningful fieldwork. Assumption’s health sciences curriculum includes a semester-long internship in a healthcare setting, enabling students to develop and refine the knowledge and skills they’ll need to effectively contribute as health care professionals. This internship experience also helps students with career development and discernment, often leading to employment opportunities after graduation.

Health Sciences students will be afforded numerous opportunities to engage in meaningful research with professors in the natural sciences and human services and rehabilitation studies. Assumption is home to the Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences (MARS) Laboratory, one of the few motion capture laboratories in Central Massachusetts, where Caron and his students study human gait patterns. Other students work with professors in the Richard and Janet Testa Science Center, where they synthesize and analyze antitumor compounds, characterize gene expression in breast cancer cells, and study molecules that impact axon navigation.

“Our students will emerge from this program will real world experience, an excellent diversity of course work and a sense of purpose to serve our communities' health needs,” added Caron. 

The health sciences program will be available to Assumption College students beginning in Fall 2017.  

Kimberly Dunbar, Director of Public Affairs, Assumption College @AssumptionNews