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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Top of the Class

Education opportunities grow for local medical students

Editor’s note: Read more about Evansville’s health in the full feature story.

Maintaining Evansville’s status as a regional medical hub requires a consistent pipeline of new talent and across the community, the next generation of health care professionals is being trained.

A centerpiece of that effort is the Stone Family Center for Health Sciences in Downtown Evansville. Dedicated in 2018 and hailed as a game-changer in local health care education, the center houses the Indiana University School of Medicine’s Evansville campus, as well as some of the programs offered by the University of Southern Indiana and the University of Evansville.

USI, UE, and Ivy Tech Community College Evansville also train future health care workers on their campuses.

Here’s a glance at what’s happening in local college class- rooms and teaching labs.

Indiana University School of Medicine-Evansville

More than five years after its move from USI’s campus to Down- town, IUSM Evansville’s four-year undergraduate medical edu- cation program has gone from training 72 students a year in the region to 98.

Before 2018, Deaconess had the only residency program in the region, with 18 family medicine residents. Since then, IUSM Evansville has started three new programs and graduated classes from all three, including one of five rural-based psychiatry programs in the country.

IUSM Evansville now has 110 resident physicians practicing in all programs.

Other new initiatives are coming. This summer, IUSM Evansville will launch its Medical Laboratory Science bachelor’s degree program at the Stone Center, with 24 students. The 11-month program is the largest university-based clinical laboratory science program in Indiana. Officials cite a demand for credentialed medical laboratory scientists in Indiana and elsewhere.

Photo of University of Evansville physician assistant students by Zach Straw

University of Evansville

UE offers pre-professional studies in dentistry, medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant science, and optometry. Indiana residents may enter UE’s Baccalaureate to Doctor of Medicine Program, and all Purple Aces can obtain bachelor’s — and sometimes master’s and doctoral — degrees in athletic training, clinical laboratory science, exercise science, health services administration, music therapy, neuroscience, nursing, physical therapy, physician assistant, and public health. Its first nurse anesthesia doctoral cohort graduated in 2023.

The Stone Center houses UE’s physical therapy and physician assistant programs, and some of its certified registered nurse anesthetist program incorporates courses there.

UE officials note the recently announced accelerated nursing program, in which students can pocket a bachelor’s degree by condensing in-person, hybrid, and online courses over 16 months. Created to address regional nursing shortages, the program requires participants to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, as well as previous completion of some science curriculum.

In September, UE received approval from the Higher Learning Commission to launch a Ph.D. program in health professions education, which will allow clinicians to develop the skills necessary to become educators.

University of Southern Indiana

Nursing program photo provided by the University of Southern Indiana

USI’s well-known nursing program bursts with success stories — last year, students achieved a 100 percent pass rate on registered nurse licensure exams. USI nursing graduates consistently perform above the national average and the university’s program is ranked second out of 52 nursing programs in Indiana. The university is in the top five percent nationally for both nursing and Bachelor of Science in nursing programs.

School officials report as many as 80 percent of USI nursing graduates stay in the Evansville region for employment, and they gain competitive internships and placement in advance practice nursing programs. USI officials say they consistently have two or three students admitted to UE’s Certified Nurse Anesthetist Program.

Additionally, the 100 percent online Master of Health Administration program offers three concentrations — health care leadership, health informatics, and post-acute care leadership — all of which are growing fields.

In the dental hygiene and dental assisting area, USI opened a state-of-the-art dental clinic in fall 2023, where future hygienists complete dental assessments, take X-rays, provide treatment, and work with a diverse patient population.

In spring 2023, USI’s dental hygiene graduates had a 100 percent first-attempt pass rate on all four licensure examinations. Those dental assisting graduates achieved a 94 percent pass rate on all three components of the Dental Assisting National Board Examination, and graduates of both programs typically soar above state and national average scores on board exams.

Photo provided by Ivy Tech Community College Evansville

Ivy Tech Community College

The college’s Evansville campus has six two-year programs in health-related fields, such as medical assisting, paramedic science, and therapeutic massage.

Ivy Tech’s School of Nursing is a selective program, and the college is working to grow its number of seats, with help from its IN Ivy Tech capital campaign. The Evansville campus has added a new nursing lab and more faculty, and it will start accepting 10 additional students per year in 2024.

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Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen is the managing editor of Evansville Living and Evansville Business magazines.

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