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Health Care Students Have New Degree Option

April 04, 2013

It's no secret that Darton State College's healthcare degrees are in high demand by students and employers. Those tasked with making the hard choice on whom to admit to the limited spaces in programs such as nursing, dental hygiene, or emergency medical services regularly have to turn away applicants who don't quite have all the classes they need, or whose grade point averages fall just short of the top tier candidates.

In the past, failing to get in to one of the coveted spots often meant students would have to change majors or even withdraw from school, giving up on their dreams of earning a college degree.

Now, though, students who don't get admitted to their desired program don't have to give up and leave school. In a program started Fall 2012, students can complete an associate's degree in health science, even if their ambitions of being a nurse or radiology technician have been delayed.

"I have been pushing this for the past four years because I believe it can ... increase both retention and graduation rates," said Dr. Kerri Johnson, director of Darton's physical therapist assistant program.

According to the guidelines sent out to Darton advisers, any student who wants to eventually become a nurse or enroll in any of a dozen other health-care-related fields at Darton must first declare themselves as a health science major. Once students meet the prerequisites and are successful in the highly competitive selection process for their chosen majors, they are then transferred to their degree program, whether it's health information technology, radiologic science, emergency medical services, or any other allied health field.

Those who aren't accepted into their programs, though, don't have to quit school. They can continue to earn credits that will result in the A.S. in health science, which can be transferred to a bachelor's degree program elsewhere.

"Not all students that want to get in one of the career programs will be accepted, so this degree will allow these students to graduate with a two-year degree and not drop out or leave because they weren't accepted," Johnson said. "It's a win-win for both students and Darton."

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