Health Sciences Interest Expands; Becomes Admissions Race

Kathryn Canavan, Reporter

   The university is growing increasingly popular for majors in the health sciences, and prospective students are working hard to attempt to gain acceptance.

   Incoming biology and physical therapy student Paisha Glisson chose Misericordia because of the program’s reputation.

   “It [the school] was close to home, super clean and safe. They have an awesome physical therapy program. It is a small school. Everyone I met was super nice, really good scholarships and I’d heard lots of good things about it,” said Glisson.

   Admission is extremely competitive, and spaces fill up fast.

   “It’s a pretty sophisticated process. What we typically try to do, because usually we can, is to fill the program to capacity at the freshman level.  We’re usually pretty successful.  We’re looking to bring in between 50 and 55 nursing student which would, if they all succeeded, keep us full all the way through.  We can usually do that because even though it’s tough to get into these programs, there are enough of the good, quality students out there who want in that we usually get to around capacity at the freshman year,” said Glen Bozinski, Director of Admissions.

   Each program has an enrollment cap, and that depends upon physical space, clinical placement availability, and the number of faculty.

   “We don’t want to be in an OT class with 50 students as an OT major,” said Bozinski.

   He said there are, however, standout students who will push the cap. “There have been cases in history where the ‘miracle child’ appears and we really are full, and at that point I’ll call the program director and say ‘technically we’re full, but I have this one more, great student.  Do you think it’s worth raising it by one?’  In a couple of cases, yes.  You’re filling in for that attrition because you kind of know you’re going to lose somebody somewhere along the way, so it really is a case by case basis.”

   Available placements do open up each year in most programs.

   “You know that there will always be some attrition.  Not every student who starts as an OT major in the freshman year is going to succeed.  They may be doing fine academically, but may not like the school and want to transfer somewhere.  They may decide OT is not for them, and go into another field altogether, or they may run into some academic difficulties,” said Bozinski.

   When a student leaves for any reason, admissions staffers look for incoming candidates and transfer students to fill the program’s cap.

   Most students join as either freshmen or at the graduate level because the university tries to keep students in cohort groups.

   “Each program does it their own way.  PA has a set waiting list for viable graduate candidates.  PT has a tendency to more review all the graduate candidates in one pool, make a couple offers, and then if one of those offers is turned down, they immediately go to the next person without creating more of a wait list.  This process is largely program-driven.  There’s no uniform university policy on how transfers get into those majors,” said Bozinski.

   Health sciences majors say they still rank the university – and their programs – very highly.

   “For me, the PT program was 6.5 years so it was shorter and I wouldn’t have to transfer.     

   The classes were small, and the materials and resources were more advanced than [those at] other schools I had looked at.  I wanted to help people, especially kids, and be in the medical field without all of the blood and needles. How beautiful the campus is and homey,” said Glisson.

   Careers in the health sciences are growing, but this was not always the case.

   “Healthcare goes in waves.  Things wax and wane.  Right now, at the point we stand with the university, all of our programs are filling or are coming very close to filling.  Five years from now, based on external factors, based on competition, who knows?  It could change.  It’s always good to be aware not only of what other schools are doing, but what’s going on in society may trend towards fields growing or shrinking,” said Bozinski.

   Bozinski said professional organizations are also marketing careers to prospective college students.

   “They have done a good job of marketing their profession to young people.  There are more and more OT’s out there that are talking to high school kids about what a great career it is, said Bozinski.

   The university said while health science programs are popular, admissions keeps its focus on marketing the university as a whole.

   “We want people of all different types of interests to look at Misericordia.  It would not serve us well to go out and just lead with OT and PT at Misericordia.  By the same token it wouldn’t serve us well to just go out and lead with communications, sort management, and government, law and national security either because what you want to do is be a place where all the programs are vibrant and robust,” said Bozinski.