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Every day College of Health Professions students, alumni, faculty and staff do extraordinary things. Read more about our latest achievements below.

Have a story about the College of Health Professions in action that you'd like to share? Contact us at mgburkett@vcu.edu or (804) 828-7247. 

Angela Duncan named to associate dean shared position at the School of Nursing and College of Health Professions

VCU School of Nursing announced that Angela Duncan, Ph.D., M.S., M.Div., has been named associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion in a shared position with the VCU College of Health Professions, effective immediately.

A champion for reducing health disparities in marginalized and underserved communities, Duncan has led the College of Health Profession’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts as associate dean since January 2020. Her exceptional work led to her being engaged to assess and guide the School of Nursing’s DEI efforts, said Jean Giddens, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, dean and professor of the VCU School of Nursing.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to partner with the College of Health Professions to leverage Dr. Duncan’s exceptional skill in building an inclusive organization,” Giddens said. “Her experience and perspective will help advance our work to provide a diverse and inclusive environment as well as equity in the education we offer to our students.”

“Each of us has the opportunity to incite meaningful change that challenges systemic barriers, so the responsibility to foster a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion lies within every member of an organization,” said Duncan, who is also an assistant professor in the Department of Patient Counseling at the College of Health Professions. “I am truly honored to partner with the School of Nursing, and will strive to strengthen a foundation built upon VCU’s core values.”

Duncan has served in various roles at VCU and VCU Health. She served as assistant dean for student affairs and community engagement for more than five years and as interim chair of the Department of Patient Counseling at the College of Health Professions. She also served as manager of bereavement services at VCU Health and as faculty chaplain at the Pauley Heart Center. 

Prior to VCU and VCU Health, Duncan served in management consulting in health care information technology, medical and hospital practice management technology, and product assurance and quality engineering in both the automobile and aerospace industries. She has also been a member of various for-profit and nonprofit boards in the areas of health and human service, finance, education, television, and religion.

Duncan earned her B.S. in zoology/chemistry from Howard University, her M.Div. from Union Presbyterian Seminary, and both her M.S. in patient counseling and Ph.D. in health related sciences from VCU.

Alternatives to traditional Ventilators

Peter Pidcoe Ph.D., D.P.T., a professor and assitant chair in the Department of Physical Therapy in VCU's College of Health Professions, was part of a collaborative effort among VCU's health sciences, engineering and art programs to automate and create potential improvements to existing ventilators.

Follow this link to read more.

pidcoe [View Image]

Recent Graduate Finds Success in the Job Market

Kelsey Reynolds, a recent graduate of our Radiation Sciences program, loves her new job as a CT technologist at VCU Medical Center. This VCU News article features Kelsey and other recent and soon-to-be-grads as they describe how they've found success in the job market during the pandemic.

Job Hunting During a Pandemic

The VCU College of Health Professions has named Paula Song, Ph.D., as the new chair of the Department of Health Administration

Richmond, Va. (Sept. 15, 2020) — The VCU College of Health Professions has named Paula Song, Ph.D., as the new chair of the Department of Health Administration, effective Sept. 1.

“I am thrilled to welcome Paula, to our team,” said Susan Parish, Ph.D., dean of the VCU College of Health Professions. “She brings an extraordinary set of experiences, and I am confident their collective energy, leadership and vision will have a considerable impact on the College.”

Since 2017, Song served as program director for the residential master’s program in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and a research associate at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research. As program director, Song focused on programmatic improvements, enhancing efforts around diversity and inclusion, and engaging in national organizations. Under her leadership, the national ranking of UNC’s master of health administration program rose from no. 5 to no. 3 according to U.S. News and World Report. 

Song began her career as a health administrator, and subsequently transferred her interests in health administration to teaching and research. Her current research focuses on the financial management of healthcare organizations, payment reform, and how alternative payment models impact utilization and access to health services for underserved populations. Her work has been published extensively in leading health services research and healthcare management journals. She teaches courses in healthcare accounting and finance and has co-authored five leading textbooks in healthcare finance.

“I feel very fortunate to contribute to a dynamic field that has an impact on people’s lives and healthcare experiences,” said Song. “I look forward to continuing my research at VCU to address emerging questions relevant to health administration and policy, teaching and mentoring students and colleagues to be successful in their careers, and leading programs and the Department of Health Administration.”

Song is actively involved in national professional organizations such as the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA) and the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). Most recently, she was named the 2020 recipient of the John D. Thompson Prize for Young Investigators by AUPHA. The Thompson Prize was established to honor John D. Thompson, a professor of health administration education, who set teaching, commitment to learning, collegial relationships, and health services research standards which are without peer.

She received her doctoral degree in health services organization and policy, her Master of Arts in applied economics, and Masters of Health Services Administration from the University of Michigan. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in biological basis of behavior from the University of Pennsylvania. 

An avid long-distance runner, Song enjoys spending time with her husband, two small children and their dog. She and her family will reside in Richmond.


VCU Nurse Anesthesia tool provides learning opportunities from real-world experiences

Anesthesia eNonymous has been rebuilt from the ground up by the team at VCU Nurse Anesthesia. It's a free resource with real patient stories from the operating room, offering lessons of how CRNAs and their teams stared down a challenge and emerged on the other side. Our goal is to learn from these stories, together, to become better providers. For more information, visit here

A New Home for the Health Professions

Check us out on the VCU News page at "What's New @ VCU for 2019-20"

Last spring, VCU cut the ribbon on its latest academic facility, and classes are being held there for the first time this fall. At 154,000 square feet and eight stories, the new College of Health Professions Building on the MCV Campus is large enough to house all 11 of the college’s units for the first time under one roof. This will allow students and faculty to collaborate in ways that have not been previously possible, which is ideal for the health professions — working together leads to the best possible outcomes for patients.

The building, which meets LEED Silver certification standards, is equipped with learning laboratories designed for patient simulation and diagnostic technology, including a “smart apartment” that trains students on how to assist people of limited mobility with daily living activities. Flexible classrooms were designed for student engagement and distance-learning opportunities. 

Meeting the demand

Skilled, selfless and sought after: VCU College of Health Professions mints students ready to work and give back.

Every day, VCU’s College of Health Professions helps meet the demand created by workforce attrition and the aging population. Our strategy is multifaceted: We’re teaching middle- and high-school students about health careers through the VCU Pipeline, a series of health career exposure and exploration programs. We’re grooming our students for rewarding careers through rigorous classwork, competitive internships and clinical training with our community partners. And, we’re actively recruiting working adults into our distance-learning programs, preparing them to live and work in localities where their skills are needed most.

Once our graduates are in the workforce, they thrive. Many are filling leadership roles. What’s more, you’ll often find our grads going above and beyond their job descriptions through volunteer commitments at home and abroad.

Earlier this year we surveyed our alumni to learn about where you work and how you give back. We were excited to hear from so many of you! You let us know your VCU education has set you up for success, that you value your relationship with the college and that you’re helping countless people every day through all kinds of meaningful pursuits.

The following stories reveal a snapshot of our alumni and provide a glimpse into how the college is actively helping meet today’s — and tomorrow’s — labor needs.Students participating in a health career learning activity [View Image]From left: VCU Acceleration participant Cathleen Williams observes Department of Radiation students Suzanne Kirby (B.S. ‘17/CRS) and Andre Green (B.S. ‘17/CRS) prepare a patient to receive radiation therapy to treat head cancer.

In the pipeline

Unique programs put students on the path to health careers.

Chenel Hodges’ strong desire to help people drew her to the field of health care, where she discovered occupational therapy.

“The summer before my senior year of high school,” she recalls, “I got to see an occupational therapist change a little boy’s life. He went from completely immobile and unresponsive to walking with just the assistance of a walker and responding to certain commands. I saw the OTs bonding with their patients and caring for them in such loving ways, and I wanted to do the exact same thing in the future.”

During her senior year, Hodges learned about VCU Acceleration, one of several programs coordinated by the VCU Division for Health Sciences Diversity focused on increasing awareness of health care careers in individuals from underserved populations. “I knew that entering health care was not going to be easy, and I wanted to all the help I could,” Hodges says. So, she applied.

VCUA is a combination pre-matriculation summer session and academic year-long program for students interested in pre-health concentrations in medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy and other health sciences. The program emphasizes academic preparation in math and hard sciences like biology and chemistry. During the summer session, students get career coaching and assessments. During the academic year, students focus on class rigors and getting acclimated to VCU, then shadow professionals in the field and solidify their academic professional plan.

“Acceleration is an amazing opportunity for students,” says Hodges. “I was able to explore all health care fields and get prepared for my freshman year. Most importantly, Acceleration helped me build an amazing support group to help me get through college and enter into my graduate program.”

Hodges is a textbook example of student benefiting from the VCU Health Sciences Pipeline, which features programs and initiatives intended to support students in their journey toward a health profession. With an array of opportunities from middle school through the post-baccalaureate level, the VCU Pipeline strives to improve the academic and experiential profiles of participants from diverse backgrounds. While each program has its own distinct goals and benefits for students, all of the programs aim to educate and excite students about careers in the health sciences, provide resources to strengthen students’ academic skills in math and science, as well as in verbal and written communication, and ensure students make informed decisions while pursuing the health career of their choice.

VCU Acceleration is one of five pipeline programs that introduce students to skilled health professions and provide VCU’s health sciences schools with bright, dedicated and prepared students from diverse backgrounds. The programs contribute to a larger, more diverse health care work force.

“Students who participate in our programs are retained to the university and graduate on-time at higher rates than the university average,” adds Amy Taloma, assistant director for the Division for Health Sciences Diversity. “They are also more likely to attend VCU health professional programs.”

To learn more, visit the Division for Health Sciences Diversity here.Department of Nurse Anesthesia’s first distance-learning cohort at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center [View Image]Chris Adams (D.N.A.P. ’06), a graduate of the Department of Nurse Anesthesia’s first distance-learning cohort at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, and Beverley George-Gay, coordinator of distance/continuing education for the Department of Nurse Anesthesia, at the center in Abingdon

Filling the gaps

Higher education centers address workforce need.

To help meet the need for a diverse and highly trained workforce, recruiters from the College of Health Professions are targeting communities around VCU’s distance-learning sites in southwest Virginia.

The bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs in gerontology, nurse anesthesia and clinical laboratory sciences offered by VCU at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Va., and the Roanoke Higher Education Center in Roanoke, Va., serve full-time professionals living and working in those rural communities.

Amanda Alley is graduate student services administrator for the Department of Nurse Anesthesia, the No. 1 ranked program in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Alley knows that attracting CRNAs to work in underserved areas such as Abingdon and Roanoke starts with recruiting local candidates into the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) and Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP) programs offered at Abingdon and the BS-toDNAP program offered at Roanoke.

“Ninety-five percent of our southwest graduates return to the area to work,” she says, “which leads to a higher population of professionals.”

Strong family ties to the area are a driving force. Coupled with a low cost of living and a great salary, the return on students’ investment is significant.

Students in the nurse anesthesia graduate programs must have a registered nursing degree and at least one year of experience working in a critical care setting. Alley’s recruitment efforts include posting fliers in operating rooms and tabling in hospitals where nurse anesthetists are already employed. It’s a strategy that seems to be working: The number of applicants in the Roanoke program doubled from 10 to 20 since 2017. In Abingdon, the number jumped from 15 to 21 in the same time period.

Read more about the College of Health Professions' distance-learning programs here.