MSU to expand health sciences

Erin Wrinkle

At the August Board of Regents meeting, the Board agreed to filing a Legislative Appropriations Request (LAR) to request funding for upcoming projects for the fiscal years of 2014 and 2015.

One of the items being requested included funding $2.9 million to expand health sciences: nursing, radiologic science and dental hygiene.

“Midwestern is committed to addressing shortages in health related disciplines to meet the needs of Texas communities,” provost Betty Stewart said.

Between these different departments in the College of Health Sciences and Human Services Dr. Stewart said there is no priority to the expansion.

“The health sciences are a vital part of the university’s academic program and much needed resource for the community,” Stewart said.

According to the Board, the dental hygiene department needs new equipment, while the radiologic science department is wanting more faculty and equipment.

The nursing department is hoping to add a new program to their major called an accelerated BSM program for students who currently have a baccalaureate degree, the nursing chair Dr. Karen Polvado said. She also stated that this program would only last for 15 months so students can get a job quickly.

Polvado thinks this new aspect of the nursing department will benefit MSU as well as students. “An accelerated BSN program will attract recent college graduates who are unable to get jobs, those who are unemployed who have a baccalaureate degree, and those who have a baccalaureate degree who want to change their career,” Polvado said.

The dental hygiene program is looking for new equipment to better their students. “The Gaines Dental Hygiene Clinic needs approximately $400,000 if technology upgrades,” said Barbara DeBois, dental hygiene chair.

These new upgrades would include computer equipment, digital radiology units and dental record keeping software, DeBois said.

Dr. James Johnson, interim dean of health sciences, said they were asking for funding for digital imaging and data storage equipment.

The upgrades are needed because of the advancement in technology. “The equipment we have is fully functional and meets our students’ basic educational needs,” DeBois said. “The additional technology upgrades would help to make MSU graduates more marketable in the job search.”

Compared to other dental hygiene programs, MSU has good facilities and not every school in the state of Texas has gone paperless.

Another branch of the health sciences department is also looking for technological upgrades. “For radiology we are asking for additional imaging and image processing equipment,” said Dr. Johnston. “This equipment allows for practice of skills without exposing actual patients to ionizing radiation.”

The radiology department is also looking for additional faculty. Dr. Donna Lee Wright, the radiologic sciences chair, said they needed faculty because the high number of students and that the department wants to add more courses.

“We continually review the curriculums of all 3 programs to be sure that our courses are current and relevant to clinical practice,” Wright said.

With the profession continuing to evolve so does the department. Technology is a very important part of medical imaging. “The students need additional computed radiology (CR) plates and a CR reader for the radiographic lab rooms,” Wright said.

All these updates could help students prepare them for what they will encounter in the real world, said Wright.

Even if the health sciences department doesn’t receive the funds they need for the expansion Dr. James Johnston remains positive. “What makes MSU’s College of Health Sciences and Human Services so good is not about the equipment and the technology but the outstanding faculty.”