Minutes of November 2, 2009
3 p.m., Holmes Student Center HSC 505


Present: Alden, Beatty, Cassidy, Erman, Falkoff, Goldblum, Gorman, Gough, Jung, Lee, Novak, Otieno, Ye

Guests: Donna Askins, Research Associate, Office of the Provost; M.J. Blaschak, Physical Therapy Coordinator, School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders; Brad Bond, Acting Dean, Graduate School; Carolinda Douglass, Director, Office of Assessment Services; Janice Hamlet, Department of Communication; Jeanne Isabel, Clinical Laboratory Sciences Coordinator, School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders; Sue Ouellette, Chair, School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders; Shirley Richmond, Dean, College of Health and Human Sciences

The meeting was called to order at 3:10 p.m.

Sue Ouellette, Chair of the School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders; M.J. Blaschak, Physical Therapy Coordinator for the School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders; Jeanne Isabel, Clinical Laboratory Science Coordinator for the School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders; and Shirley Richmond, Dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences were introduced.

It was moved and seconded to approve the minutes of October 26, 2009, and the motion passed unanimously.

The dean and the chair said that they appreciated all the work that has gone into reviewing this document; it has been very helpful.

The meeting was turned over to David Gorman for the presentation of the subcommittee report.

There are many departmental strengths. The School of Allied Health and Communicative Disordersí realignment has worked out well. There is nifty state-of-the-art equipment at the Family Health, Wellness, and Literacy Center (FHWLC). The programs and laboratories are also scattered in other buildings, but the facilities seem adequate. The faculty is very distinguished. The activities in the school are very integrated, and this should be attractive to future hires. The school has important partnerships with agencies and institutions in the region to sustain the connection of instruction to service-providing. All the programs in the school are fully accredited, and all the programs provide important services to the region. There is strong demand for health professionals in northern Illinois. The proposed D.P.T. will bring the physical therapy program into alignment with comparable programs nationally.

The discussion points include faculty staffing and productivity, external funding, and the state of McMurry Hall. There are five faculty searches reported underway or in progress, and staffing seems to be a big issue that impacts accreditation because of the faculty/student ratio. The size of the faculty also limits the ability to expand the programs. In light of the demand for health professionals in the region, there is not enough faculty. Perhaps faculty issues could be ameliorated by hiring SPS or graduate assistants. The school has now filled three of the five positions. The school is still in the process of hiring a faculty member for the physical therapy program and one other position in the speech-language-pathology area. One of the responsibilities for the person who is hired for the physical therapy position will be to increase credit hour production at the 300 and 400 course level. There is a shortage of doctoral-level personnel available, and the school is looking at early career applicants. If the D.P.T. is approved, faculty teaching in the program will need to have a doctoral degree, and the pool of doctorally prepared faculty is getting smaller. There is strong competition in this field. Four of the five full-time faculty in the physical therapy program have Ph.D.s. The fifth full-time member in our program is in an SPS position, and she supervises the clinicals. If a person has a D.P.T., this will not allow them to be in a tenure-track position. The private practice service model, similar to what you see at medical schools, is being looked at. The practice plan allows individuals the chance to keep their skills because they are seeing patients and they also have the opportunity to do research. This also helps with salaries, but we are not competitive in salaries with the health career market and other universities. Faculty productivity in research and scholarship could stand some improvement, and filling some of these gaps will help increase productivity. During the review period, external funding was over $2 million. The school has two grants from the Department of Education and both of these are for $100,000 each year for a five year period. McMurry Hall needs to be painted and has some asbestos. This is good space; it just needs some help. Last year the university instituted a deferred maintenance fee to help address some of these issues. Safety is a high priority, and given the fact that there is asbestos in the building, this might be high on the list to fix. The physical therapy accrediting body has an expectation that the faculty as a whole have a level of scholarly activity. This includes presentations, research, etc, but not grants specifically. Clinical laboratory sciences has a more limited opportunity for external funding. There is a professional society that has some money available, but it is hard to come by. The school is looking at interdisciplinary opportunities within the five areas, and there are central agencies that might fund these types of research projects (e.g., the balance clinic). Clinical laboratory sciences could link with biological sciences, chemistry, and/or public health. Another potential area is to meet the needs of veterans who may have hearing and balance issues. There is work underway on how the programs can make this connection to veterans.

Recommendations are to look at hiring qualified faculty, forming partnerships with agencies across the region, and increasing contact with alumni if possible. Increasing contact with alumni is a priority for the school and it is one of the stated goals within the schoolís strategic plan. This is also a priority within the college. Some of the programs within the school are beginning to use advisory groups, but there is much more to be done. The college sponsors a preceptorís workshop, and this helps make connections with alums.

The strengths of the B.S. in Clinical Laboratory Sciences (CLS) includes the programís relationships and interactions with clinical affiliates throughout the region, the diverse student body, the high employment rate, assessment, the pass rate on the national examination, and the increase in degrees awarded. The programsí interactions with the clinical affiliates provides ample opportunity for students to get hands-on experience in the field. The student body is diverse, and nontraditional students are well represented in the student body. These are people searching for different careers, and some of them already have bachelorís degrees in biological sciences or chemistry. The program seems to be way ahead on assessment. During the review period, there was a 100-point gain in the scores on the national licensure examination, and there was a substantial rise in the number of degrees awarded (a 50 percent increase).

One area for discussion is that the desire to expand the program is constrained by the laboratory and classroom space. Also, another faculty line would be needed. The regional shortage of health professionals is a double-edged sword. Because there is such a shortage, there is less opportunity to find clinical experiences for students. Many of the clinics hire the students who have had clinical experiences in their settings. A few students pursue graduate study. If the program was expanded, it might be hard to find the clinical sites needed, but we have a little advantage because preceptors are not required to have a doctorial degree. Some hospitals are concerned about this and are now investigating this issue; many programs are closing too. There are various things that can be looked at (e.g., use other shifts besides the day shift, offer a weekend program). If we move forward on expanding the program, we will find some cooperation with preceptors because the need is so great. The program might want to explore opportunities with Homeland Security as well. Would developing an M.S. in Clinical Laboratory Sciences be a good idea? This has been looked at in the past, and currently the program would like to investigate an accelerated degree completion program that would have an online component. This program would be for students who already have a bachelorís degree in another area. A weekend program might fit the needs of these potential students. Program costs are 50 percent of the statewide average, and this seems very low. This is not a cheap program, but we do have laboratory equipment that is donated to our program, which helps keep costs down. Costs are a moving target and are dependent upon what other institutions put into the cost formula. NIUís program is producing half of the credit hour production at public universities. What happens at other institutions has an impact on our costs too. Also, some programs may be connected to medical schools that might make their costs higher. Programs at private institutions are usually connected to a medical school, but this is not true of programs at public institutions in Illinois. Eastern Illinois University does not have a faculty devoted to clinical laboratory sciences. The program should seek opportunities to cooperate with industry (e.g., the Labs Are Vital program). The program format should be adapted to meet changes in the field (e.g., changes in technology, accreditation requirements, etc.). The program should recruit more NIU students. A lot of students start in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and they donít know how to find CLS. Students who come from the community colleges have a plan, and the program has second degree seeking students too. Upgrading equipment is important and was a concern noted by the accrediting body as well as being reflected in the responses from the alumni survey when graduates said that they were not entirely happy with the equipment. The program should look for study aboard opportunities as well.

Most of the items for the physical therapy program span both the B.S. in Health Sciences and M.P.T. programs. The current program is a combination of an undergraduate program and a graduate program. Students apply to the program in their junior year for admission in their senior year. After that, students are admitted into the M.P.T. program. If the D.P.T. degree is approved, the B.S. in Health Sciences will become an open admission program to serve students interested in health professions; the M.P.T. will go away when the D.P.T. is in place. The D.P.T. is similar to other programs nationally. Most universities do not have a B.S. in Health Sciences program. The goal for the B.S. in Health Sciences is to provide students who are interested in going into health sciences areas a degree option. Given all of these changes, how relevant is the review of the physical therapy programs? Some of the issues are still related to the programs (i.e., faculty).

Strengths of the programs are the FHWLC space with state-of-the-art equipment, the faculty are practitioners, there is interaction with area practitioners and clinicians, and the programs have highly motivated students. Last year there were approximately 80 qualified applicants for 36 spots, and the number of applications will probably increase with the establishment of the D.P.T.; some individuals are waiting to apply to the program after the D.P.T. is approved. Our programs have good reputations in the Chicago land area, and our costs are less than most other programs. Another strength is the opportunity for students to work with patients very early in their programs. Assessment opportunities are excellent, and strong direct measures are used. There is plenty of feedback from employers at the M.P.T. level. The gender balance in the program is good. The cohort has been well maintained with only a few drop outs.

Discussion points are the constraints on class size, the high student/faculty ratio, and the entry-level performance expectations. The size of the program is limited by the facilities, faculty, and the availability of clinical sites. The subcommittee was concerned about the high student/faculty ratio (18/1). This ratio seemed lower for other programs. Some programs factor in the associate faculty for this program (i.e., biological sciences faculty); our programs only factor in the core faculty. Is the standard for entry-level performance too low? The accreditation standards are used for the M.P.T. program. These graduates are expected to function as entry-level physical therapists.

A recommendation for the future is to manage the shift to open enrollment. This will obviously involve rethinking program goals.

The strengths of the M.P.T. program are the 95 percent graduation rate, the 99 percent pass rate on the licensure examination, and the 100 percent employment rate.

The discussion point is the faculty size. Does the faculty number need to increase to offer the D.P.T.? All of the current faculty have doctoral degrees, and all of the adjuncts have advanced degrees.

There is no stated clinical credit hour minimum to move from the M.P.T. to the D.P.T. The clinical hours are the same, and we are above the average. The program has increased clinical contact hours; students will have more patient contact.

The oversight of adjunct faculty was noted as a concern in The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education accreditation report. The adjuncts have advanced degrees, and they are evaluated like regular faculty. The University Council will be discussing clinical faculty ranks at the meeting on Wednesday. If this is changed, adjuncts who are routinely teaching would have a portion of their FTE assigned as an associate clinical professor. Would this impact the programís accreditation? The accrediting body views using practicing adjuncts quite favorably. This item should be moved to the recommendations section of the subcommittee report along with implementing the D.P.T. program when it is approved, retaining minority students, and fully utilizing the FWHLC site.

The meeting adjourned at 4:20 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Carolyn Cradduck