It’s not every day that Lincoln Memorial University is featured in the national media, but that is exactly what happened today thanks to Smithsonian Magazine. In a regular feature entitled Photo of the Day, a dynamic shot of the LMU campus during a lightning storm is displayed. The shot was captured by Matthew Hunt shows lightning striking the campus near the LMU-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM). Matthew is a photographer and physician assistant student at LMU-DCOM. He is a member of the Class of 2015.
When I started work at Lincoln Memorial University on September 15, 2005, the University was a small, liberal arts institution with a main campus in Harrogate, Tenn., and a small handful of extended learning sites where primarily graduate education was delivered. Our student population was under 2,000. At the time that I interviewed for my position there was no mention of possible growth or impending plans to add professional programs. Shortly after I started Vice President for University Advancement Cynthia Whitt, my boss, handed me a brochure on osteopathic medicine and said “oh, learn more about this… we are looking at the possibility of adding a school of osteopathic medicine here.”That was almost eight years ago. Today our enrollment is over 4,000 students, LMU operates 10 extended learning sites, and not only do we have the LMU-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine, it is now one of the largest medical school programs in the state. In addition to osteopathic medicine, LMU-DCOM is home to a top-notch Physician Assistant Program. And the University hasn’t limited its growth to the medical field. In 2009 the LMU-Duncan School of Law opened in Knoxville. As an institution, LMU-DSOL’s Inaugural Class graduation was a highlight of spring. Over my tenure there has also been tremendous physical growth on the main campus as five new residence halls and two new classroom facilities have been built.
One might think that with all that growth, the University would take a breather. However, today is another momentous day for LMU as we announce that the University has been granted a Letter of Reasonable Assurance by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education (COE) and can now recruit students to the emerging LMU-College of Veterinary Medicine (LMU-CVM).
As LMU Board of Trustees Chairman Autry O.V. “Pete” DeBusk said in the press release, “The approval from the COE to open a new school of veterinary medicine in Harrogate, Tenn., will propel this University to even greater heights and establish LMU as a leader in professional studies for the region.”
The University first announced its plans to pursue a college of veterinary medicine in 2011. Since then a dedicated pocket of LMU administrators and newly hired program directors have been working diligently toward the accreditation process. This group has worked tirelessly toward this day. However, there is no time to sit back and bask in the glow of today. It’s time to push forward and work harder than ever on program development. As the admissions team kicks into high-gear, recruiting the LMU-CVM inaugural class, faculty has to be hired and community partnerships lined up.
There is no time to rest because here we grow again!
During the last test cycle (April to June 2011) for the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board Certification (BOC) 92 universities had medical technology graduates take the exam. Guess where the LMU program was ranked among the 92? Well, if you read the headline you already know the answer to the question so it’s not much of a game. But nevertheless, the Lincoln Memorial University Medical Technology graduates tied for the second highest pass rate in terms of highest composite score. Yep WE’RE #2!! And that is not #2 in the region or #2 in Tennessee; that is #2 in all of the U.S. of A!
Even more impressive is the fact that the LMU Medical Technology Program has had a 100% pass rate on the ASCP BOC dating back to 2005. If you’re math-challenged, that is six straight years of perfect pass rates.
The Class of 2011 composite class average of 648 bested the national average of 408 by 140 points. A minimum of 400 points is needed to pass the exam. The highest score recorded by a member of the LMU Class of 2011 was 748, a new program record.
So sure, the Class of 2011 did really good on this test, but I’m sure some of you are wondering, what is medical technology? And what do you do with a medical technology degree? A medical technology degree will prepare you for a career as a clinical laboratory scientist performing and interpreting a wide variety of tests–from simple blood glucose checks to more complex analysis necessary for diagnosing and treating pathological states. Still not sure what I’m talking about? Think of any medical drama on TV when an attending tells a resident to run another panel or asks for pathology results or looks at a patient’s chart for a nutrient level. In the real world, those findings come from a lab which is run by medical technology graduates.
Not all med tech grads end up in the lab. The Medical Technology Program is one program within LMU’s Division of Health Sciences and is one of many health professions programs at LMU aimed at easing the looming medical crisis in Appalachia’s medically underserved region. The curriculum of a medical technology program prepares its graduates for the rigors of post graduate medical education including medical school or physician assistant programs. The program also serves as a feeder of sorts for the LMU-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine and the LMU-DCOM Physician Assistant program. Several LMU Med Tech graduates are currently pursuing advanced degrees in both programs. For example, Souleymane Diallo, a 2009 graduate, is currently a third-year osteopathic medical student at LMU-DCOM. While at LMU-DCOM he has picked up back-to-back student of the year awards.
I have already covered the outstanding job prospects for physician assistant graduates (https://abesquare.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/degree-job-there-is-no-sure-bet-but-this-one-is-close). Medical technology graduates can expect similar opportunities. Though the shortage of trained and qualified laboratory technologists and technicians can put patients’ lives at risk just like the shortages of primary care physicians and nurses, it has not gained as much attention. In the state of Tennessee, LMU is just one of only five accredited medical technology programs. LMU Program Director Bill Engle said that lab managers in the region rely on LMU graduates to staff their labs and that graduates have as many as six job offers before and immediately following graduation.
Did I mention that LMU has an excellent Medical Technology Program?
The Lincoln Memorial University Board of Trustees, President B. James Dawson, Dean Ray E. Stowers and the Faculty of the Physician Assistant Program welcomed friends, family and special guests of the inaugural class of the Physician Assistant Program at Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM) to commencement exercises earlier today.
The class of 32 new health practitioners gathered at the Sam and Sue Mars Performing Arts Center in the Duke Hall of Citizenship on the LMU main campus in Harrogate, Tenn. Dr. J. Dennis Blessing, associate dean for South Texas Programs and chair of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio served as the keynote speaker.
So Forbes has a list for everything. Want to know the largest private companies, most expensive zip codes, most powerful women or world’s billionaires? Forbes can tell you. Now, how important or useful that information is, is all in the eye of the beholder. However, back in June Forbes published a list I hope most college students took notice of.
The Best and Worst Master’s Degrees for Jobs (http://blogs.forbes.com/jacquelynsmith/2011/06/06/the-best-and-worst-masters-degrees-for-jobs/) identified the physician assistant degree as the top degree on the list, tied with computer science. The science behind the list had Forbes tracking the median pay for 35 of the most popular graduate degrees using payscale.com. Next the study looked at Bureau of Labor Statistics’ employment projection data to identify fields with high growth projections. Finally, the study ranked the degrees from one to 35 by averaging the degree pay rank and estimated growth.
It is really no surprise that PAs are in high demand. There aren’t enough doctors to keep up with our aging population and there aren’t enough medical school seats to produce the doctors to keep up. Logic tells you that alternative measures are needed. Enter the physician assistant. A physician assistant is educated in the medical model. PAs are nationally certified and work side by side with both osteopathic and allopathic physicians in every medical specialty. PAs are licensed to diagnose illness, prescribe medications and assist in surgery. They conduct physical exams, order and interpret medical tests and provide counseling on preventive health care. A PA has at least six years of education: a four-year undergraduate degree and the physician assistant degree. PA students complete more than 2,400 hours of clinical rotations prior to graduation.
PAs aren’t paid quite as highly as doctors; nevertheless, the Forbes article points out the mid-career median pay exceeds $100,000. The growth of the PA job market is also expected to grow by 39% over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The PA works as part of the health care team. The profession originated at Duke University in the 1960s after medics returning from the Vietnam War discovered there was really no civilian equivalent to their former military profession. From the beginning, the physician assistant profession has embraced a teamwork approach to health care, providing mid-level practitioners who can work side-by-side with physicians to provide efficient and effective health care to patients in need.
The inaugural class of the Physician Assistant Program at Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM) will celebrate its commencement on Saturday, July 30, at 10 a.m. at the Sam and Sue Mars Performing Arts Center in the Duke Hall of Citizenship on the LMU main campus in Harrogate, Tenn. The class of 32 new health practitioners are ready to make an impact on our region and beyond. Many have already secured clinical positions and will be immediately helping to serve the health care needs of the region.