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Three postgraduate programs proposed for UTRGV, including establishing Texas’ first School of Podiatry, set for action by UT System regents on Wednesday, reports attorney Omar Ochoa - utrgv - Titans of the Texas Legislature

Featured: Members of the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) gathered on Friday, February 14, 2020, for the group’s Southwest Regional Conference, which took place at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine in Edinburg. LMSA, a national non-profit organization, represents, supports, educates and unifies Latino medical students in the United States, including those at UTRGV’s School of Medicine. This was the first time the university hosted the event. From left are: Jonathan Guajardo, President of LMSA chapter at the UTRGV School of Medicine; Luis De La Fuente, President of LMSA chapter at UTRGV; Valeria Patino, Vice President of the LMSA chapter at UTRGV; and Sabrina Orta, Fabiola Beltrán and Noe Rodríguez, LMSA chapter members.

Photograph Courtesy THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS RIO GRANDE VALLEY

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Three postgraduate programs proposed for UTRGV, including establishing Texas’ first School of Podiatry, set for action by UT System regents on Wednesday, reports attorney Omar Ochoa

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
[email protected]

Three postgraduate programs proposed for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, including establishing Texas’ first School of Podiatry, along with creating a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and  Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Mathematics and Statistics with Interdisciplinary Applications (MSIA), are set for action by the UT System Board of Regents on Wednesday, February 26, 2020, reports attorney Omar Ochoa.

Generally, a postgraduate degree is a degree which you study for once you have finished a bachelor’s degree. Some postgraduate degrees require the completion of a particular bachelor’s degree, others don’t.

https://www.postgrad.com/advice/postgraduate-studies/what-is-a-postgraduate-degree/

The UT System Board of Regents will take up those issues along with dozens of other matters relating to the system’s 13 education institutions throughout the state, as part of their regularly-schedule meeting, which will be held in the Board Room 2.50, 2nd Floor, 210 West Seventh Street in Austin.

The City of Edinburg, which is home to the main campus of UTRGV along with a major component of the UTRGV School of Medicine, for decades has closely followed, participated, and lobbied the Texas Legislature and the UT System Board of Regents on behalf of the university and medical school explained Ochoa, who earned undergraduate and law school degrees from the University of Texas at Austin.

Interested individuals may follow the actions of the UT System Board of Regents two-day session by logging on to:

https://www.utsystem.edu/board-of-regents/meetings/board-meeting-2020-02-26

Ochoa released summaries and detailed highlights of the UT System Board of Regents Agenda Packet as they pertain to UTRGV, including the following scheduled agenda items:

• UT Rio Grande Valley proposes to develop a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) professional degree program to be housed in a new School of Podiatry within the College of Health Professions. The program will prepare students for licensure and entry into the profession of podiatric medicine. Only nine colleges of podiatric medicine exist in the United States and there are none in Texas. This program is responsive not only to a nationwide demand for podiatric physicians but also to a critical local need for this expertise. A DPM program would serve the region’s distinctive population, given the high rates of diabetes, obesity, and other diseases manifesting in foot and ankle pathology.

Once the Doctor of Podiatric Medicine progressional professional degree program begins, it is estimated that over a five-year period, more than $31.2 million will come to UTRGV for this postgraduate course of study.

• UT Rio Grande Valley proposes to develop a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) professional degree program. The program is designed to prepare students for licensure as an Advance Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) and to take leadership roles in advanced practice areas such as a nurse practitioner.

The proposed doctoral program responds to the increasing educational demands within the nursing profession. The clinical need for nurse practitioners is great and this program is required to meet that need. In addition, successful completion of a DNP program will also allow graduates to work as nursing faculty; another occupation with a high labor shortage.

This program is structured to serve students who currently hold a Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN) degree and a Registered Nurse license. Coursework will be delivered online, allowing these nurses to continue working in a clinical setting, with end-of-semester workshops delivered face-to-face. This program structure is designed to allow students to complete the number of clinical hours required under accreditation standards, a necessary component to produce graduates ready for APRN licensure and practice.

Once the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) progressional degree program begins, it is estimated that over a five-year period, more than $6.2 million will come to UTRGV for this postgraduate course of study.

• UT Rio Grande Valley proposes to develop a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Mathematics and Statistics with Interdisciplinary Applications (MSIA) degree program. For students entering with a bachelor’s degree, the doctorate will be a four-year program consisting of 78 semester credit hours (SCH). For students entering with a master’s degree, the doctorate will be a three-year program consisting of 60 SCH.

Students in the proposed Ph.D. program will take courses in broad interdisciplinary areas, with mathematics and statistics courses serving as a foundation that will be tightly linked with specialized courses in other disciplines. This unique interdisciplinary approach to training mathematicians and statisticians is designed to help prepare graduates who are able to apply fundamental mathematics and statistics knowledge to solve complex problems at the intersection of mathematics, physics, engineering, biology, medicine, finance, computer science, and other quantitative disciplines.

Once the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Mathematics and Statistics with Interdisciplinary Applications (MSIA) degree program begins, it is estimated that over a five-year period, more than $2.9 million will come to UTRGV for this postgraduate course of study.

The following detailed materials regarding the three proposed postgraduate programs for UTRGV, which are from the regent’s agenda packet, follow:

Establish a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree program and approval to establish a School of Podiatry at UT Rio Grande Valley, and submit the proposal to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for review and appropriate action.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Program Description

UT Rio Grande Valley proposes to develop a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) professional degree program to be housed in a new School of Podiatry within the College of Health Professions. The program will prepare students for licensure and entry into the profession of podiatric medicine. 

The DPM program will be an accredited, four-year, full-time program consisting of problem-based learning, evidence-based medicine, anatomy, neuroanatomy, pharmacology, physiology, and other subjects. In addition, students will undertake clinical/clerkship rotations for the supervised experience.

Only nine colleges of podiatric medicine exist in the United States and there are none in Texas. This program is responsive not only to a nationwide demand for podiatric physicians but also to a critical local need for this expertise. A DPM program would serve the region’s distinctive population, given the high rates of diabetes, obesity, and other diseases manifesting in foot and ankle pathology.

The DPM program will draw on interprofessional collaborations within existing programs at UT Rio Grande Valley, including the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, the South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute, the Physician Assistant Studies program, and the Occupational Therapy program.

Need and Student Demand

Multiple measures show that podiatric medicine is a growth-oriented occupation with an increasing potential market for service. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates nationwide employment of podiatrists to increase to more than 10% over a ten-year period by 2026, a faster than average occupational rate of growth. Moreover, the profession is aging: the average age of members of the American Podiatric Medical Association is 53, with an expected retirement age between 61 and 70.

In addition, Texas-specific indices show that Texans have less access to podiatric physicians when compared to national data with a DPM to person ratio of 1:27,000. In the Rio Grande Valley that ratio increases to 1:88,000.

An analysis of student demand shows qualified Texas applicants have had to leave Texas to pursue their goals of becoming a podiatric physician; many never return to practice in Texas. Over the last ten years, the nine colleges of podiatric medicine have received an average of over 100 qualified applicants from Texas annually; of those applicants, 40 to 45 matriculate each year.

Enrollment projections for this prospective DPM program estimate an average class size of 40 students, which is below the common range of class sizes in DPM programs across the nation (69). The UT Rio Grande Valley proposed DPM class size was based on the number of Texas students who matriculated in the colleges of podiatric medicine nationally over the last five years.

Program Quality

The start-up of this program is projected to require four core faculty (one current faculty member and three new hires) and 11 support faculty, many of whom will be drawn from the School of Medicine. Year One of the program is projected to increase by 10 core faculty. Year Two of the program will increase core faculty by five, and by Year Three the program will add two additional faculty.

The program will seek accreditation from the Council on Podiatric Medical Education (CPME), a programmatic accreditor recognized by the Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. CPME is recognized as the accrediting body for colleges of podiatric medicine and residency training programs for the profession.

The proposed DPM program entails a significant external learning component. The clinical learning experiences for podiatric medical students must adhere to similar criteria as the experience for medical students. UT Rio Grande Valley has developed existing relationships with clinical sites throughout the region; for instance, the Division of Health Affairs currently maintains over 600 affiliation agreements. These existing relationships can serve as a foundation to develop additional rotations in podiatric medicine.

Coordinating Board Criteria

The proposed program meets all applicable Coordinating Board criteria for new doctoral degree programs.

UT Rio Grande Valley: Approval to establish a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program in the School of Nursing

RECOMMENDATION

The Chancellor concurs in the recommendation of the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and the institutional president that authorization, pursuant to the Regents’ Rules and Regulations, Rule 40307, related to academic program approval standards, be granted to:

Establish a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program in the School of Nursing at UT Rio Grande Valley, and Submit the proposal to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for review and appropriate action.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Program Description

UT Rio Grande Valley proposes to develop a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) professional degree program. The program is designed to prepare students for licensure as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) and to take leadership roles in advanced practice areas such as a nurse practitioner. The DNP will be an accredited program with two tracks:

•  4-year post-baccalaureate track, consisting of 75 credit hours; and
• 2.5-year postmaster’s track, consisting of 45 credit hours.

The proposed doctoral program responds to the increasing educational demands within the nursing profession. The clinical need for nurse practitioners is great and this program is required to meet that need. In addition, successful completion of a DNP program will also allow graduates to work as nursing faculty; another occupation with a high labor shortage.

This program is structured to serve students who currently hold a Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN) degree and a Registered Nurse license. Coursework will be delivered online, allowing these nurses to continue working in a clinical setting, with end-of-semester workshops delivered face-to-face. This program structure is designed to allow students to complete the number of clinical hours required under accreditation standards, a necessary component to produce graduates ready for APRN licensure and practice.

Need and Student Demand

The Texas Workforce Commission has identified nurse practitioners as the second-fastest growing occupation in the State of Texas, with a predicted ten-year growth rate of 47.7%, amounting to 11,707 total annual jobs, by 2026. Likewise, qualified nursing faculty are in high demand. The national nurse faculty vacancy rate is 7.9%, with over 90% of those openings requiring or preferring candidates with a doctoral degree.

Student demand for nursing education is strong. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reports that over 75,000 qualified applications were turned away from bachelor’s and graduate-level nursing programs in 2018, including 2,909 applicants to doctoral programs. This demand is corroborated by internal surveys of UT Rio Grande Valley nursing students in graduate and bachelor’s programs, approximately three-quarters of whom expressed interest in pursuing a DNP degree within three years.

Enrollment projections for the proposed DNP program are based on historical data from the existing graduate-level nursing programs offered at UT Rio Grande Valley and existing similar programs across the state. For the postmaster’s track, the university projects 15 new students annually. For the postbaccalaureate track, the university plans to admit 40 new students annually starting in Year 3.

Program Quality

UT Rio Grande Valley will proactively seek and recruit qualified faculty in alignment with the vision and mission of the University, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) guidelines and other applicable accrediting bodies. The preliminary faculty needs for the proposed U. T. Rio Grande Valley DNP degree program are set forth by Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), and the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculty (NONPF) are already in place. 

The UT Rio Grande Valley School of Nursing consists of 43 full-time faculty members. Of those, 18 are designated as graduate program faculty and meet the University as well as CCNE and NONPF requirements to teach in graduate programs.

UT Rio Grande Valley has sufficient faculty to support the post-baccalaureate track, while one additional core faculty member will need to be hired for the postmaster’s track. In addition, the proposal projects hiring two additional faculty members, with the addition of an acute care nurse practitioner specialization to maintain a 1:6 faculty-student ratio in clinical courses, as required by accreditation standards.

The School of Nursing will seek programmatic accreditation through the CCNE.

CCNE accreditation requires adherence to standards promulgated by the AACN. These standards set out foundational competencies for advanced nursing practice roles.

Coordinating Board Criteria

The proposed program meets all applicable Coordinating Board criteria for new doctoral degree programs.     

UT Rio Grande Valley: Approval to establish a Doctor of Philosophy in Mathematics and Statistics with Interdisciplinary Applications degree program

RECOMMENDATION

The Chancellor concurs in the recommendation of the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and the institutional president that authorization, pursuant to the Regents’ Rules and Regulations, Rule 40307, related to academic program approval standards, be granted to

The Chancellor concurs in the recommendation of the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and the institutional president that authorization, pursuant to the Regents’ Rules and Regulations, Rule 40307, related to academic program approval standards, be granted to:

• Establish a Doctor of Philosophy in Mathematics and Statistics with Interdisciplinary Applications degree program at U. T. Rio Grande Valley; and

• Submit the proposal to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for review and appropriate action.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Program Description

UT Rio Grande Valley proposes to develop a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Mathematics and Statistics with Interdisciplinary Applications (MSIA) degree program. For students entering with a bachelor’s degree, the doctorate will be a four-year program consisting of 78 semester credit hours (SCH). For students entering with a master’s degree, the doctorate will be a three-year program consisting of 60 SCH.

Students in the proposed Ph.D. program will take courses in broad interdisciplinary areas, with mathematics and statistics courses serving as a foundation that will be tightly linked with specialized courses in other disciplines. This unique interdisciplinary approach to training mathematicians and statisticians is designed to help prepare graduates who are able to apply fundamental mathematics and statistics knowledge to solve complex problems at the intersection of mathematics, physics, engineering, biology, medicine, finance, computer science, and other quantitative disciplines.

Need and Student Demand

This program will prepare students to enter academic employment, an area of increasing growth. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 16.4% growth in postsecondary math educators by 2024, averaging 2,170 openings annually across the nation.

In addition, the interdisciplinary design of the doctorate program will position program graduates to meet the increasing demand from non-academic sectors for doctoral-level mathematicians and statisticians. Research by the American Mathematical Society reflects this increasing demand, with the proportion of mathematics Ph.D. graduates in nonacademic fields increasing from 22% of respondents in 2011 to 35% in 2015. 

From 2014 to 2024, the BLS projects the following increases in doctoral-level professions:

• A 33.8% increase in statisticians;
• A 30.2% increase in operations research analysts;
• An 18.1% increase in actuaries; and
• A 21.4% increase in mathematicians.

The MSIA program is designed to prepare graduates not only for entry into those fields but also into other professions with a quantitative basis, as the curriculum allows students to develop specializations in additional disciplines.

Enrollment projections assume 8-10 new students per year for the first five years of the program. These enrollment projections are based on graduate program enrollment patterns at UT Rio Grande Valley, proposed funding to support doctoral-level students and similar programs at other institutions.

Program Quality

The program proposal identifies 10 core faculty members based in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. Over the past five years, the 10 core faculty for the proposed Ph.D. program have published 203 research articles in highly ranked journals, 17 book chapters, and three books and monographs in their research areas. Their research has received funding from external agencies including the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

The 21 support faculty members identified for this program have expertise spanning several disciplines, including financial mathematics, biology, ecology, physics, and engineering, in addition to mathematics and statistics.

Doctoral students will be supported through financial packages that include competitive, multiyear teaching assistantships and scholarships.

The university anticipates 8 students in Year 1 growing to 24 by Year 3 and up to 31 by Year 5.

LATINO MEDICAL STUDENT CONFERENCE AT UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS RIO GRANDE VALLEY DISCUSSES THEMES OF IDENTIFY FOR YOUNG MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS

The Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) Southwest Regional Conference convened Friday, February 16 through Sunday, February 16, 2020, at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine in Edinburg to establish dialogue and networking opportunities for medical students, and for premed and high school students interested in a career in medicine.

LMSA is a national non-profit organization founded to represent, support, educate and unify Latino medical students in the United States, including those at UTRGV’s School of Medicine.

“It is important to have an organization like LMSA for many reasons,” said Sonya Rivera, UTRGV School of Medicine third-year medical student and LMSA chapter Vice President. “It provides a voice for underrepresented medical students, promotes recruitment of Latino students, educates Latino medical students on health issues and healthcare, and provides both leadership and volunteer opportunities.”

The theme for this year’s conference was Identidad Latina: Soy más que…, or “Latino Identity: I am more than …,” a focus that allowed participants to challenge the stereotypes that may be associated with Latinos in the medical field.

“We left the ellipsis so that everyone could fill it in with their own personal experiences,” said Jonathan Guajardo, a third-year medical student with the UTRGV School of Medicine and LMSA chapter President said. “I am more than a series of characteristics. I am more than an immigrant. I am more than a surname. It can even apply to our field: I am more than a Latino doctor, I am a brother, a son, I like to barbecue and dance.”

Participants took part in an identity discussion and immigration policy workshop that sparked conversations about the ethical choices physicians may be faced in today’s political climate.

“Knowing what to do when your patient is an immigrant and knowing what their rights are, both human and civil, is important,” Guajardo said. “What do you do if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) shows up at your door? The ethical choices a physician will be faced within such a scenario are issues that aren’t always discussed.”

A lecture on Latin-American Diaspora Health brought awareness of the ongoing healthcare issues among marginalized communities in Central and South America.

High school students who attended the conference had the chance to partake in professional development opportunities, learning basic clinical skills and following clinical case simulations.

Résumé writing and interview workshops also were made available, all intended to provide tools for success to younger generations interested in medical fields.

“It is an honor to have hosted this year’s LMSA Southwest Regional Conference at our medical school,” said Dr. John H. Krouse, Dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine and Executive Vice President for Health Affairs. “The diverse group of students who have engaged in these conversations is future healthcare professionals that will provide compassionate care to patients, their families, and society.”

The UTRGV School of Medicine is committed to participating in conferences such as these to continue leading the way for increased medical education opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, he added.

This is the first year the UTRGV School of Medicine has hosted the Latino Medical Student Association Southwest Regional Conference.

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Dimitra Trejo contributed to this article. For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories that affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com)

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