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University of Missouri

Growing Professions

Health programs are in high demand.

school of health professions

Interest in the School of Health Professions is high — particularly in physical therapy and occupational therapy — and has been growing over the past decade. Photo by Nicholas Benner.

Cramped inside Lewis and Clark halls, School of Health Professions faculty train students in some of the fastest-growing majors on campus.

In the next year, renovations to the buildings will add new faculty offices, research labs and a clinic for the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute where health professions students can do clinical rotations.

The health care sector has consistently added jobs, even during the recent recession, fueling interest in health-related majors at MU.

In the School of Health Professions, undergraduate enrollment has grown rapidly, reaching 2,244 in fall 2012. But with spots for only 212 graduate students, providing more opportunities for undergraduates to pursue advanced degrees is crucial to retaining quality students, says Richard Oliver, who is stepping down this summer as health professions dean.

The plan, he says, is to increase graduate student enrollment in physical therapy and occupational therapy, introduce a new athletic training graduate program in fall 2014, and continue to grow the popular bachelor of health sciences program.

Across campus, the Sinclair School of Nursing increased fall enrollment in its bachelor of science in nursing program, from 55 to 75, starting in 2012. The increase helps fill a state nursing shortage, which a 2012 American Journal of Medicine article estimated would top 1,750 by 2030.

The School of Medicine hopes to address the shortage of rural doctors by expanding enrollment from 96 to 128 students a year, possibly as soon as 2015, and opening a clinical campus in Springfield, Mo., with partners CoxHealth and Mercy Health Systems. State lawmakers included $10 million in the fiscal 2014 budget to cover the annual operating expenses expansion would bring. At press time, the governor still needed to sign off on the measure. If approved, the medical school will add eight students in fall 2013. For the rest, the school must raise about $36 million from public and private sources for education space at Mercy and CoxHealth in Springfield and a new instructional building at MU.

graph showing growth of health professions enrollment

Infographic by Rebecca Fels.