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What Facilitates Great Futures

By Carol R. Cool

USciences has always had a reputation for education that pays off in the job market. And even in these tougher times that remains true. Our survey of graduates at commencement 2012 and 2013 revealed that 64 to 66 percent had a job offer or position by graduation. (Another 9 to 11 percent had been accepted to grad school.) Those are far higher than 2013 national results of 45.9 percent.

What is it that makes a University of the Sciences degree such a valuable currency in the job market? Talking with faculty and alumni saw several common factors emerge.


The right training for the hottest jobs

USciences prepares students for some of the fastest-growing jobs in the country, as a glance at the Healthcare and Science Job Outlook chart reveals. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) means many of the health professions are in great demand right now. “The big push is maintaining health and rehabilitation,” according to LAURIE SHERWEN, PhD, dean of Samson College of Health Sciences, “which is met by our programs in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and exercise science and wellness management. Our physician assistant program prepares practitioners who are essentially ‘physician extenders,’ because there aren’t going to be enough primary care physicians to go around for patients who will gain access through the ACA.” A geriatric focus in both the OT and PT programs aligns with the aging U.S. population.

An emphasis on leadership skills

The ACA and major concerns about healthcare costs and availability of services require more leaders who can creatively address the problems. Mayes College of Healthcare Business and Policy students learn to “identify a public health issue,” said ANDREW PETERSON PharmD, PhD’09, dean of Mayes College, “and understand the policy that goes behind it and the business that drives it, and even the communication that goes along with it.”

AVERILL DEAN GORDON MBA’12 (PharmD, Florida A&M) credits USciences with providing him “with the insight and knowledge to be able to manage a large department for a Fortune 37 company.” Dr. Gordon is manager of pharmacy quality assurance for Walgreen Co., responsible for one of the nation’s largest federally certified Patient Safety Organizations, managing all 8,098 Walgreens pharmacies and the drug utilization review for 27,000 pharmacists.

Samson College programs also have a strong leadership component, allowing for a broader scope of practice. For instance, the clinical doctorates in OT and PT allow professionals to have a seat at the table as a peer with the MDs. “USciences gave me...unique insights on how to use my education to become an entrepreneur and leader,” said KEITH MARMER BSHS’89, MPT’89, DPT’04, MBA’10, now associate dean for research innovation at Penn State College of Medicine.

Faculty industry expertise

chartUSciences faculty members don’t simply have theoretical information; most have practical, in-the-industry experience that gives their students insider knowledge. In addition, many of the adjuncts teaching at the University are still actively working in their respective industries.

“USciences’ exceptional faculty and teaching staff not only provided me with the skill set I needed to be a successful clinical pharmacist but also encouraged me to continue to constantly expand my knowledge and strive to be a better practitioner each and every day," said JAMIE WALL PharmD'11, an emergency medicine pharmacist at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Hospital.

Unlike many similar-sized schools where one professor teaches several subdisciplines, although only an expert in one, USciences takes care to employ faculty “who are strategically hired to cover various subdisciplines, which provides students with a variety of research opportunities, as well as classes that are taught by experts in their fields,” said SUZANNE MURPHY, PhD, dean of Misher College of Arts and Sciences.

"USciences provided me with close relationships with professors, excellent mentoring, and unique lab research opportunities that help me get into medical school and set the foundation in my career in academic radiology," said FRANCO VERDE BC’02, MD, assistant professor of radiology at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Extensive alumni network and professional contacts

chartBecause our faculty members are active in their respective industries and professional associations, “their contacts, as well as those of USciences graduates in many disciplines, provide an expansive network for career opportunities for our graduates,” said Dr. Peterson.

“Through USciences’ pharmaceutical and healthcare business program, you are connected to a wide network of professionals in the industry. [It puts] opportunities at your fingertips,” said PAOLO A. ARAGONA PHB’12, a medical writer at FlashPoint Medica.

USciences alumni give back to their campus by returning to mentor and share their career journeys with current students. These opportunities broaden horizons for our students as they make their own career decisions. It made a difference for MICHAEL D’UVA PharmD’11, RPh, now a business analytics contractor for oncology, at Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.: “Networking with USciences alumni helped me to learn about, and pursue, a nontraditional route for a PharmD.”

Hands-on learning

Whether in labs or through internships and fieldwork experience, USciences places a strong emphasis on studentcentered learning. “One of the strengths of USciences’ scientific programs is the strong lab component. For instance, the pharmaceutical sciences program requires nine laboratory-based courses,” said ANIL D’MELLO, PhD, director of the undergraduate program in pharmaceutical sciences. “The theoretical concepts you covered in class are better understood when you apply them to practical concepts in the laboratory."

“USciences gave me fantastic opportunities to gain firsthand experience in basic science research,” said EDWARD P. O’BRIEN BC’02, PhD, assistant professor of chemistry at Pennsylvania State University. “This helped position me to get into a good PhD program and ultimately gave me the tools I need to push the boundaries of scientific knowledge."

“We include students in the process of scientific discovery,” said Dr. Murphy. “Students actively participate in research projects, by which they gain lab, presentation, and organizational skills, but also the appreciation and understanding of what innovation is. Also, we provide exposure to, and hands-on experience with, state-of-the-art instrumentation, unusual for a school of our size."

chartCHRISTOPHER E. PETOUKHOFF C’11, Phys’11, now a graduate student in the department of materials science & engineering at Rutgers University, feels “that the research and teaching opportunities, as well as the large number of laboratory-based courses, available to undergraduates is unrivaled at USciences and something you will never find at large universities."

This strong research foundation has also opened grad school doors for Misher graduates at places like Stanford and Princeton. And many are still conducting groundbreaking research. One Misher grad is now a rocket scientist who has worked on the development of the Stealth B-2 bomber, B-1B bomber, Delta rocket structure and motors, Titan, Space Shuttle, and other solid and liquid rocket boosters. Others are employed as research fellows and professors at Harvard and as scientists with the National Cancer Institute and the Center for Disease Control.

When thinking of research at USciences, the mind typically goes to the labs of the hard science departments, but Samson College students also focus on research in the two Samson labs, said Dr. Sherwen. “The faculty focuses on implementation research, on various types of treatments that will help their patients."

Internships and fieldwork experience fill another vital job preparation role for our students. In the Department of Kinesiology, said KARIN RICHARDS, MS, acting chair, “Our students typically have two internships plus a fieldwork where they shadow a professional in their chosen career field.” This past summer, 90 percent of the juniors in the undergraduate pharmaceutical and healthcare business program worked in the industry. Students in the master of public health program gain a wider exposure to the industry through the 225 hours of required fieldwork experience. Internships and fieldwork such as clinical pharmacy practice experiences, often lead to jobs after graduation or open up postgraduate opportunities.

About 25 percent of PharmD graduates go on for a one-year postgrad training within an accredited residency program in a community pharmacy or hospital, according to STEVEN SHEAFFER, PharmD, vice chair, experiential learning, in Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. “About 10 graduates per year are placed in highly competitive postgraduate training programs in the pharmaceutical industry."

"Philadelphia College of Pharmacy (PCP) prepared me well to enter clinical pharmacy practice through case-based learning and outstanding rotation opportunities,” said BRANDON R. SHANK PharmD’11, a clinical pharmacy specialist in lymphoma and multiple myeloma at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. “Experiences such as these...enabled me to achieve my short-term career goal of completing a postgraduate year 1 (PGY1) and postgraduate year 2 (PGY2) residency at The Johns Hopkins Hospital."

Professional communication skills practice

chartStudents develop skills that help them succeed in any career path. As they progress through their programs, they refine verbal and written communication skills through poster and classroom presentations and scientific papers.

"My advisor and department chair provided me with the unique opportunity of physics laboratory experience that helped me gain my first publication," said MELISSA LAMBERTO Phys'11, now a master's student/graduate research assistant at Louisiana State University–Baton Rouge.

USciences Research Day gives all students the opportunity to hone their organizational, preparation, and presentation skills. “Students get the opportunity to submit poster and platform presentations at national conferences alongside their professors and to be coauthors of published papers with their professors,” said Dr. Sherwen. Seminars from Career Services personnel give students practical advice on resume writing and interview skills so they can land internships or their desired job

"USciences prepared me for giving speeches, managing my time for different projects, and communicating to others in a professional and knowledgeable way; skills that I use daily in my position,” said ERIN MCHALE ESWM’11, merchandise manager for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees).

Personalized education, focused on individual career goals

The University also provides the individual attention that small classes and a low student-to-faculty ratio allow. Several programs offer flexible curricula so students are able to choose the courses that most reflect their future careers.

The University offers 27 minors, and that variety also enables our graduates to move into the future they imagine. "Minors help our students develop an alternate area of expertise," said Dr. D’mello. "More than 30 percent of students in our program pursue a minor."

THOMAS R. LEHMAN PharmD’12, chief fellow of the Rutgers pharmaceutical industry fellowship program and medical science liaison/ medical information fellow at Bristol- Myers Squibb, described the USciences advantage: "In a job market where competition for entry-level positions is at its peak, USciences’ professors and mentors provided me a combination of personalized training and leadership experience ideal for the development of a high-performing, desirable professional in healthcare."

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