With nearly 30 percent of Mercyhurst University students interested in careers in the health sector, one of the fastest growing areas of the economy, the university believes the time is now to integrate its health-related programs under one umbrella.
The administration has authorized a new School of Health Professions and Public Health, beginning this fall. Public Health Department Chair David Dausey, Ph.D., will become dean of the new school, the sixth at Mercyhurst; while David Hyland, Ph.D., professor of biology; and Marion Monahan, director of health professional programs at the North East campus; will serve as associate deans.
“The number of students interested in health programs at Mercyhurst has dramatically increased over the last decade, and we have reached a point at which nearly 30 per cent of our students wish to pursue careers in the health sector,” Dausey said.
Unlike many other fields, health is one of the few to escape job declines during the recession. Still, a large number of health jobs are going unfilled because of the limited number of people with the necessary skills. In fact, Dausey cited estimates that by 2020 there will be 250,000 unfilled jobs in public health. In addition, the nation continues to experience shortages in nursing and trained technicians in a variety of health professions.
“The School of Health Professions and Public Health at Mercyhurst is designed to help meet the demand for these jobs,” Dausey said.
The school will incorporate the university’s programs in public health, sports medicine, physician assistant studies, exercise science, nursing and allied health offerings. Its impact will be widespread and diverse, allowing the university to fully exploit the synergies of these programs for the benefit of students, the local community and the greater health field.
The new school will make it easier for collaborations across programs. For example, public health is engaged in a research project on childhood disability in which students in the university’s physical therapy program could conceivably participate. Another advantage, Dausey noted, is that the new school will enhance supports for students who are applying to graduate or professional schools, among them medical school, graduate public health schools and graduate programs in sports medicine.
“The new school will increase our visibility to the outside world, which will improve the ability of our students to secure positions in graduate and professional schools,” Dausey said.
Further, students of the new school will have a multidisciplinary source of information and advisers focused on health. Given the large numbers of students interested in pursuing health careers, this will be a major asset for students as they move forward.
The school’s impact on the community is also an anticipated outcome.
“Health care and public health are critical to the vitality of all communities both from a human standpoint - healthy communities are happier - and from an economic standpoint - health care is a major economic driver for many communities,” Dausey said. “Erie is no different. Education and health care are major parts of our community.”
Having a School of Health Professions and Public Health allows Mercyhurst to have a broader impact on the Erie community and a larger presence in the health area.
"With all the changes in the health care system, with the additional complexity and the growing need for integration of health-related disciplines and facilities, it makes good sense for Mercyhurst to organize our health professions and public health program under the expertise and experience of Professor Dausey," said Mercyhurst President Thomas J. Gamble, Ph.D. "This is an exciting time in the life of the university and we have very high expectations for the success of this new school."
For more information, contact Dausey at 814-824-246