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Creating healthcare connections

Date: 6/21/2012

Officials and faculty from Alvernia University, Reading Area Community College (RACC), and Reading Hospital’s School of Health Sciences (RHSHS) are putting their heads together in order to help students navigate their collective and comprehensive Community Health Education programs. 

“The idea is to break down barriers that students might find when transitioning from one program to another — not just between the schools — but also between specializations such as Certified Nurse’s Aide and a Registered Nurse,” says Alvernia Provost Dr. Shirley Williams. “Our RN-BSN program needs to be in sync with both RACC’s associate degree and RHSHS’s nursing diploma program so that students can made a smooth transition from one institution to another if they choose to continue their education. In addition, we must provide information to the individual who is in an Emergency Medical Technician’s program who may not only wonder what other opportunities in health care are available, but what additional skills or education are required.”

Coordinated by RACC President Dr. Anna Weitz, provosts, deans, and other officials have met several times to look for bumps in the road. Now, more than 20 faculty members from the three institutions are breaking down program offerings even further. 

“We’re looking at all healthcare programs the institutions offer, from certifications, to master level degrees,” says Alvernia Dean Karen Thacker, Ph.D. There are currently 54 programs offered among the three institutions: 33 clinical, 11 office and technology services, and 10 affiliated health and human Services like counseling and social work. These programs range from non-credit certificate programs at RACC to master’s degree programs at Alvernia.

After separating the programs in to three main categories, faculty members will look at fundamental skills for each group and look for core needs. 

“We’ll start from the ground-up, and will eventually have smooth processes for students who choose different paths through the healthcare education program." 

The group’s end goal is to have a totally blended dual enrollment program. Students would pass seamlessly between the three schools to a degree in their chosen healthcare field. 

PH: faculty meeting

  • History: Established as a private four-year liberal arts college in 1958, Alvernia celebrated its 50th year by being awarded university status in 2008.
  • Heritage: Founded by the Bernardine Sisters, a Catholic religious order, the university embraces the Franciscan core values of service, humility, collegiality, contemplation and peacemaking.
  • Motto: “To Learn, To Love, To Serve”
  • Campus: The main campus in Reading is 121 acres, with two satellite campuses in Philadelphia and Pottsville (Schuylkill County).
  • Location: Our residential campus is situated three miles from center-city Reading, in the scenic Blue Mountain area of Eastern Pennsylvania.
  • Enrollment: 3,000 students attend Alvernia including 1,500 traditional undergraduates, 600 continuing education students, and 780 graduate students. Over 77% of first-year students live on campus.
  • Faculty: Our professors are accomplished scholars, experts in their fields, and supportive mentors. The student-to-faculty ratio is 14:1. Most classes are 20 students or fewer.
  • Athletics: NCAA Division III, member of the Commonwealth Conference of the Middle Atlantic States Athletic Corporation and member of Eastern College Athletic Conference, 8 men’s and 10 women’s intercollegiate sports.