By Kevin Storr
The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Health Professions announced today that it has created an accelerated master’s 4+1 program with Miles College — a historically black college located in Fairfield, Alabama.
Each year, UAB’s Master of Science in Health Informatics program will accept a select number of students in Miles’ Computer and Information Sciences or Management Information Systems undergraduate programs for this new initiative. The initial students will begin the accelerated program in the fall 2018 semester.
This is UAB’s first partnership with a historically black college or university for an accelerated master’s program.
“We want to help change the glaring inequities in the number of underrepresented groups working in health IT, and we will, thanks to our partnership with such a strong HBCU,” said Harold P. Jones, Ph.D., dean of the UAB School of Health Professions. “Our HIT program will provide Miles College’s CIS and MIS graduates with advanced education in system design, database analysis, and information systems so they can make an immediate impact when they enter the healthcare workforce.”
Emmanuel Chekwa, DBA, dean and vice president of Academic Affairs and director of Honors Curriculum at Miles College, says Miles students are thrilled to have the opportunity to complete graduate work in the art and science of health data analytics.
“The collaboration with UAB, an esteemed research institution, is a giant step forward for our highly motivated students who have a passion for improving healthcare through the application of data science and information technology,” Chekwa said.
The accelerated master’s program is designed so students will be able to complete their Bachelor of Science degree at Miles College while simultaneously completing coursework toward their UAB MSHI degree.
“This collaboration with Miles College will support our work to develop leaders to shape tomorrow’s health care,” said Christy Harris Lemak, Ph.D., chair, Department of Health Services Administration. “Miles’ students have terrific insights and experiences that will contribute to our student and faculty understanding of health care and informatics.”
The MSHI program, housed in the School of Health Professions’ Department of Health Services Administration, is a blended program — meaning the format combines online classes with two three-day visits to campus each year.
“We are very excited about this unique program and look forward to building this relationship with Miles College and its students,” said Sue Feldman, Ph.D., director of Graduate Programs in Health Informatics. “The students from Miles receive a very solid foundational education that, when combined with the MSHI program at UAB, will prepare them for a career in health informatics.”
To qualify for application to the MSHI Accelerated Master’s program, Miles College students must be in their sophomore year with a 3.5 GPA or better. Students will begin UAB coursework the summer before their senior year with UAB and Miles courses overlapping during the senior year. Upon graduation from Miles, students will have four semesters of coursework remaining, all to be taken at UAB.
“This partnership provides an opportunity for both institutions to positively impact the availability of skilled and knowledgeable personnel in Birmingham and the surrounding area,” said Charles Woods, Ph.D., division chair, Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics of Miles College. “The collaboration is important because it affords specialized recruitment of students to Miles College and provides UAB with an excellent talent pool for graduate studies.”
During their senior year, students will take 17 credits of UAB MSHI coursework — 16 of those credits apply to their CIS or MIS bachelor’s degrees. The following year, they will take an additional 29 credit hours to reach the 30 credits required, and subsequently, they will earn their graduate degree with only one additional year of study post-baccalaureate.
Paulette Patterson Dilworth, Ph.D., vice president of the UAB Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, says this program shows promise addressing underrepresentation in the field.
“This partnership represents an innovative opportunity to improve diversity and inclusion and strengthen graduate programs by investing in relationships with UAB faculty and historically black colleges,” she said.