Schools are beginning to offer more healthcare-related degree programsRecent reforms along with an aging baby boomer generation have prompted the healthcare field to seek more qualified employees. As a result, many colleges and universities are creating programs to entice students to pursue degrees in high-demand fields to help certain regions in the U.S.

For instance, Indiana State University recently announced that it will be offering a physician's assistant program next semester, according to the school's website.

Officials said that the program will expose students to real-world experiences, and focus on education and practice with students from other healthcare practices. The curriculum is seven semesters long, and by the second term, enrollees will be mentored by current healthcare providers in preparation for clinical experience in the second year.

"Thirty million more people are going to access healthcare that previously did not [by 2014]," Randy Stevens, the school's medical director, quoted on the website. "That is going to pose a real dilemma for the medical community because the providers, particularly physicians, are in short supply."

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of job opportunities in this field is expected to increase by 39 percent over the next seven years.

Indiana University opens up two new nursing programs

Other in-demand healthcare professions are experiencing increases in the programs being offered at schools, such as a masters degree in nursing (MSN). For example, Indiana University Kokomo recently announced that it has been approved to offer a graduate-level nursing curriculum, Inside Indiana Business reports.

Officials told the news source that the program is set to begin in the spring 2012 semester and will bring a much-needed graduate level curriculum to the area. The school will team up with the university's East campus to offer the two-track masters program, which incorporates online and classroom learning.

The two-track master's program will offer classes in both nurse education and nurse administration. Officials noted that nurse administrator track will help prepare students to take on advanced-level management positions at hospitals, clinics, surgery centers and extended care facilities, among others.

Meanwhile, graduates of the nurse educator track will be prepared to pass the Certified Nurse Educator Certification Exam, which can qualify them as a certified nursing educator through the National League for Nursing.

"Many of our hospitals have been calling for a pathway whereby their nursing staff can enhance their credentials to meet the demands of the complexity of healthcare today," Susan Sciame-Giesecke, vice chancellor for academic affairs, told the news source. "The MSN degree will provide the nurses within our local hospitals the opportunity to earn their graduate credentials close to home."

College begins program in health information technology

Finally, the University of North Carolina Greensboro recently announced the launch of a graduate certificate in health information technology, according to the school's website.

The university's Bryan School of Business and Economics will house the certificate program, which is designed to meet the needs of two groups of students – individuals who want to branch out in healthcare delivery and those who do not have any clinical training.

Officials said that the certificate program will provide students with information technology competencies and experience that are an essential skill set for effective managers in hospital and clinical settings.

“It is an opportunity to work in a sector of the economy where you make other people’s lives better,” Eric Ford, a professor in the program, told the news source. “The hospital never closes, so there are always jobs available.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for health information technicians are expected to increase by 20 percent over the next seven years.

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