Accelerated Degree Offered in Health Field

Article excerpt

Journal Record Staff Reporter

Health care reform may be getting extra-high billing among the national press these days, but a program at Oklahoma City University is bringing some of these problems closer to home.

The university, through its Competency-Based Degree Program, is offering a nontraditional education course to assist health care workers toward a bachelor's degree.

It is a fast-track program for people who want degrees in nonclinical and nontechnical fields, such as administration, according to Denise Short, director of OCU's program.

"When we started working on this (in the fall of 1990), we first were approaching it on the idea of helping these people toward some sort of certification," she said. "But the more we worked on it, the more people asked if there was some way to get a degree besides the traditional methods. The more we checked into it, the more people wanted it, so now we offer the complete program."

Two cycles of about 15 core students each have been completed, the third to start in January.

The Health Service Administration degree is offered much like the school's Competency-Based Degree Program, but it has one important element which is different _ a series of eight compact, accelerated courses which in affect amount to a major field of study. These courses are offered in single blocks one night per week or one weekend day for 10 weeks.

During this block of education, these are the only courses the students take, which means they must do a lot of individual work, preparing for class and completing homework, Short said.

Some college credit is awarded based on experiential learning, such as what a person learns on the job, she said. Previous college work can be considered for transfer and some students will be able to take tests to prove their knowledge of a particular subject and bypass some course work.

Professionals in the health services field either work as professors or come in as guest lecturers to help the students. In fact, an Oklahoma City attorney is teaching the ethical and legal aspects in health issues, which is one of the more popular classes, according to Melissa Lamke, assistant director of the Competency-Based Degree Program.

"The attorney arranged for the students to attend a trial involving a medical malpractice suit which is something the students need to know," Lamke said. "They are really enjoying it. It gives them real applications of what they are learning."

Courses are taught not only on the OCU campus but also at Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City and St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, Short said.

"We wanted to get hooked up with the hospitals and clinics, with the industry, because we are able to respond better if we know what they need in the way of education," she said. "We also are working with other hospitals, clinics and doctors offices to get industry more involved and reach more people. …