International College and Nova Southeastern University Announce Dual Enrollment Agreement

International College and Nova Southeastern University (NSU) have entered into a dual enrollment agreement for a new baccalaureate degree to graduate degree program in Health Studies, to begin in May at International College.

The Health Studies program will focus on three areas of study: physical therapy, occupational therapy and physician assistant. Under the dual enrollment agreement, students who enroll in the Health Studies program at International College will attend classes locally for three years and matriculate into the NSU graduate programs in Fort Lauderdale – provided they are in good academic standing. The program allows for seamless education from the baccalaureate to graduate level. Students would earn a bachelor’s degree from International College and a master’s degree from NSU.

Officials from both Colleges believe the dual enrollment agreement will help fill the need for educated and qualified medical professionals in the area and state. Currently, there are not enough physician assistants and physical therapists to meet the area’s demand. Many hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices recruit for these positions within or outside of the state.

Frederick Lippman, R.Ph., Ed.D., Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost of the Health Professions Division, said NSU partnered with International College because the southwest area of Florida is underserved.

“Health manpower studies have shown a dramatic need for certain health care professionals in your geographic region,” Lippman said. “This is an opportunity for Nova Southeastern University and International College to provide an educational process developed to help the community of the southwest region of Florida. We’re educating health care professionals to grow with the growth of the area. The community at large will benefit from having ‘home grown’ trained medical professionals, because students who are from the area and are trained in their communities, stay in their communities.”

In Florida, all three fields rank within the fastest growing professions; in the southwest region of the state, all three fields rank within the top 29 fastest growing professions. Over 800 positions in physical therapy, occupational therapy and physician assistant are anticipated for the southwest region of Florida, according to a study by the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation. Almost 10,000 positions will be available in the state between now and 2009, the study predicts.

Carlene Harrison, faculty in the School of Allied Health, said what sets International College’s Health Studies program apart is the convenience and flexibility it offers to the working adult. Health Studies classes will be available in the evening, on weekends and online at both campuses in Naples and Fort Myers.

“The southwest region of Florida is an area that does not have ample education and training opportunities in the areas of occupational therapy, physical therapy and physician assistant, particularly for individuals who continue to work,” Harrison said. “With the right dedication, students have a great opportunity – as a result of this partnership – to train for a high demand career in health care while continuing to work.”

Local health care administrators are already looking forward to the positive results of the alliance between International College and Nova Southeastern University.

“There’s a huge demand for physician assistants, particularly in the surgery field. Typically, we have to recruit out of state and try to hire a year ahead of time,” said Fielding Epstein, Clinic Administrator for Cleveland Clinic Florida in Naples. “As the population ages and outpatient care increases, there is going to be a huge demand for physical therapists and occupational therapists.”

Linda Krajewski, administrator for Medical & Sports Rehabilitation Center, Inc., in Naples, echoed Epstein’s concerns.

“Recruiting gets more challenging with the increase in population and competition,” Krajewski said. “I’m hoping the International College and NSU partnership will bring more qualified candidates to the area. It will be extremely helpful for us because we will be able to hire students as they go through the program.”

NSU’s Health Professions Division, with a student body of more than 2,800, is home to six colleges: The College of Osteopathic Medicine, The College of Pharmacy, The College of Optometry, The College of Allied Health, The College of Medical Sciences, and the College of Dental Medicine.

Since 1993, the College of Allied Health has trained more than 1,200 professionals in its accredited entry-level programs. NSU is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

“We look forward to a long relationship with International College," said Richard E. Davis, P.A.C., Ed.D., Dean of Nova Southeastern University’s College of Allied Health. "We believe a partnership between the NSU's College of Allied Health in Fort Lauderdale and International College in Naples will benefit communities on both coasts.”

International College also will launch in May an independent Bachelor of Science in Health Administration. This program is designed to provide career advancement opportunities for individuals who have an associate degree in health professions, or for the individual seeking a career in health care administration.

The U.S. Department of Labor projects an increase of 21 to 35 percent in health care manager positions through the year 2010. Fielding Epstein said these figures support the need for the health administration program in the area, too.

“It has grown increasingly difficult to train people on the job. There is a need for a program where we can train health care administrators in our area,” Epstein said. “Health care is becoming more complicated as a business with changing regulations, billing, cost controls and other issues. There is a market for an educational program that produces people who have the education and business skill necessary for the job.”

Terry McMahan, International College President, said both new health care programs were necessary as the area continues to experience growth.

“Health care continues to be a primary focus of our citizens. We felt the way to help respond to the community’s health needs was to provide a capable health care workforce,” McMahan said. “The missions of International College and Nova Southeastern University are similar. We both strive to serve adult students. We are looking forward to a long and mutual relationship with NSU.”

International College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award Associate, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Degree programs are offered in 13 fields of study in management, business, legal studies, accounting, health care, computer information technology and criminal justice.
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