Adapting to the Changing Needs of Graduate Students in Health Care Education

The health care industry is experiencing a seismic shift driven by an aging population, technological advancements, and evolving models of care delivery. This transformation has created an unprecedented demand for skilled professionals across various health care fields.

However, meeting this demand requires graduate programs to adapt to the changing needs of students and the industry. At the forefront of this evolution is the hybrid accelerated model, an innovative approach that is reshaping health care education.

Hybrid Accelerated Explained

The hybrid accelerated model combines the best of traditional in-person learning with the flexibility of online and distance education. “When we say hybrid, what we mean is we’re leveraging the best of all learning modalities,” explained Dr. Melissa Randazzo, academic officer for Speech Language Pathology, at a recent virtual forum hosted by The Chronicle of Higher Education. “So traditional face-to-face learning combined with synchronous video meetings and asynchronous content delivery.”

Crucially, the hybrid model integrates the best of traditional face-to-face learning with synchronous meetings and interactive asynchronous content delivery.  “And when we do this, the technology isn’t just a simple substitution for traditional learning. We’re aligning our learning objectives to meet the modality,” Randazzo added.

The hybrid accelerated model not only redefines flexibility and access in higher education but also sets a new pace for achieving academic milestones.  “When we say that we’re accelerating graduate education, what we mean is that we are reducing time to degree while maximizing learning,” Randazzo stated.

This approach not only allows students to enter their field sooner with less debt but also helps address critical health care shortages, particularly in underserved and rural communities.

Experiential Learning and Diversity

At the core of EIM’s approach is a focus on experiential learning and building a diverse, inclusive learning community. “What students experience is high quality, interactive content, hands-on learning with real-world examples across modalities,” Randazzo said. “We employ clinical, simulation-based learning experiences which provide students a practical and safe space to refine their skills.”

Randazzo also emphasized the importance of cultivating diversity through holistic admissions processes. “We need to cultivate inclusive and dynamic learning communities,” she said. “And this is where strategic partnerships can really help. We can support university admission efforts by engaging in broad outreach with nationwide applicant pools.”

Empowering Faculty for Success

Adapting to these innovative models also requires empowering faculty members with the necessary tools and support. “It’s important to keep in mind that preparing and empowering faculty is paramount,” Randazzo stated. “We understand that we’re entering into a new landscape of education.”

This involves not only providing pedagogical strategies but also helping faculty understand how students learn and bridging content knowledge with skill acquisition and mastery. “We need to support faculty in bringing professional or clinical experiences into the classroom, doing more experiential learning, and also helping students engage in interprofessional education so that they can experience more of what the workplace is going to be like,” Randazzo explained.

Leveraging technology and data analytics is also crucial. “We’re able to track and implement insights from learning analytics. We’re able to triangulate multiple data points from within our learning management systems to harness engagement and drive continuous improvement in our teaching and student learning,” Randazzo said.

The Future of Health Care Education

By addressing the changing needs of students, cultivating diversity, empowering faculty, and leveraging technology and data, EIM and its partner institutions are shaping the future of health care education. “When we do this, we can step back and look at our outcomes. And we see the mentorship, we see the collaboration, we see not just the success, but also the passion from our students and faculty. We see the future of health care,” Randazzo concluded.

As the health care industry continues to evolve rapidly, innovative graduate programs that prioritize flexibility, accelerated learning, experiential education, diversity, and faculty empowerment are poised to play a crucial role in preparing the next generation of health care professionals.

New Health Care Programs Needed to Meet Soaring Job Demand

With an aging U.S. population driving skyrocketing needs for health care workers, higher education institutions are facing increasing pressure to expand graduate programs in high-growth medical fields like physical therapy, occupational therapy, physician assistant studies, and speech-language pathology.

“We’re seeing a tremendous, pronounced level of interest in health care graduate programs,” said Pradeep Khandelwal, EIM CEO, at a recent virtual forum hosted by The Chronicle of Higher Education. “The Bureau of Labor Statistics has identified staggering growth needs—a 21% increase for physical therapists, 18% for occupational therapists, 31% for physician assistants, and 25% for speech-language pathologists, just to name a few.” *

Powerful Societal Trends Reshaping Health Care Landscape

The exploding job demand is fueled by societal trends reshaping the health care landscape. “An aging population in the U.S. needs a wide array of services,” Khandelwal noted. Innovations like AI are speeding up changes in standards and challenging how we train future health care professionals. Delivery models are shifting toward preventative care and value-based strategies.

By 2034, older adults are projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history, increasing the need for services like geriatric care management. Breakthroughs in digital health, telehealth, wearable devices, and AI-assisted diagnostics are enabling more proactive, personalized care. Emerging value-based payment models that reward quality over quantity are catalyzing preventative, holistic treatment approaches.

Universities Partner to Launch Hybrid Accelerated Degrees

To rapidly scale up and meet this critical workforce need, universities are partnering with organizations like EIM to launch hybrid accelerated degree programs that blend online learning with intensive in-person clinical training.

“Higher education leaders from institutions of all sizes are now seeing an ability to address societal needs at a national level with these hybrid programs,” said Khandelwal. “They can graduate individuals with in-demand skills who are virtually guaranteed healthy income-producing employment.”

Hybrid programs allow universities to nimbly create new academic pathways while maintaining rigorous standards. By combining EIM’s expertise in instructional design, digital delivery, student services and clinical placements with institution’s vision and mission, the hybrid model provides a best-of-both-worlds education.

Students get access to top practitioners as instructors, robust remotely accessible coursework, hands-on skills labs, and an extensive nationwide network of field sites and health care partners for clinical rotations.

Partnering for Broader Impact

As Khandelwal summarized, “With trusted partners who will act to further an institution’s mission and vision, universities are able to act more expeditiously, execute with much less risk, and have an impact beyond their historical reach.”

By joining forces with organizations like EIM, higher education institutions can rapidly deploy in-demand health care programs across the nation. This allows them to boost enrollment, generate new revenue streams, and increase their geographic impact—all while avoiding the substantial costs and risks of trying to build the capacity for national hybrid education from scratch.

For institutions looking to serve the evolving needs of students and the health care industry, forming the right partnership could be a powerful catalyst for change. Now is the time to act to solve a critical societal challenge and workforce need.

* Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Quarterly Consensus of Employment and Wages (QCEW). Projections from 2023 to 2033.

Hybrid Curriculum Development in Health Care Education: Essential Insights

Hybrid learning, which integrates online and face-to-face instruction, is gaining momentum in higher education, particularly in the health care sector. This innovative approach enables institutions to extend their reach and more effectively address the varied needs of learners.

Amid a pressing shortage of health care professionals, hybrid education models offer vital pathways to entering health care careers, meeting urgent community demands. Yet, crafting high-quality hybrid curricula poses distinct challenges for health care education programs.

This article will guide you through the nuances of hybrid curriculum development in health care education. It begins by identifying the challenges involved, discusses the formation of cross-functional teams for hybrid curriculum design, outlines the critical phases of curriculum development, and highlights strategies for faculty training.

Challenges in Hybrid Curriculum Development

Developing a hybrid curriculum presents higher education institutions with several common challenges, particularly those new to the hybrid model:

  • Transitioning to Hybrid Learning: Converting traditional in-person courses into effective hybrid formats is challenging. Faculty members often resort to merely uploading lectures online, neglecting to adapt their materials and activities for online engagement. This approach can lead to diminished student engagement and learning outcomes.
  • Technology Integration: Selecting technologies that seamlessly merge online and in-class learning is crucial. Without expert IT guidance, institutions may end up with a disjointed mix of technologies that hampers the learning experience.
  • Faculty Training: There is often a lack of comprehensive training for faculty on the specific pedagogical strategies required for effective online teaching and student engagement, leading to instructor and student frustration and cognitive overload.
  • Standards and Quality Control: The absence of clear and concise standards and effective quality control processes can result in inconsistent course quality across programs.
  • Instructional Design Support: Most institutions require additional instructional design resources to aid faculty in converting course content into engaging multimedia materials and immersing online learning activities.
  • Feedback Mechanisms: The failure to systematically collect and act on feedback from online learners means missed opportunities to identify and address gaps in the curriculum, thereby hindering continuous improvement.
  • Accessibility: Ensuring that online components are accessible to all learners, including those with disabilities, is often overlooked and can limit the inclusivity of the hybrid model and expose the institution to potential litigation.

Institutions can navigate these challenges more effectively by implementing best practices in online and hybrid education, setting clear development standards, providing faculty instruction on those practices through targeted training programs, and engaging with external partners.

Graphic depicting an Interactive Activity Book, showcasing 'Activity 2: Cerebral Cortex - Lateral View' with drag-and-drop functionality.
Interactive Activity Book developed by EIM’s Curriculum Development and Design team.

Building Collaborative Teams for Hybrid Curriculum Development

The journey towards developing high-quality hybrid curricula hinges on the collaboration of cross-functional teams. Enriched with diverse expertise, these teams play a pivotal role in shaping the curriculum. Key contributors within the institution include:

  • Program Directors and Curriculum Directors oversee the curriculum plan to ensure alignment with the mission, vision, and goals of the institution and program.
  • Faculty Members contribute their subject matter expertise on evidence-based instructional content, strategies and assessments.
  • IT Services Personnel are critical in supporting the features and capabilities of essential learning management systems (LMS), online tools, and technical support to facilitate effective online teaching and learning.

EIM Offers Comprehensive Curriculum Support

EIM offers comprehensive curriculum support to partner institutions, further empowering these cross-functional teams to create exceptional hybrid curricula with the highest quality and efficiency. This support includes:

  • Academic Officers use their subject matter and industry expertise to develop a hybrid curriculum framework based on professional education and accreditation standards for each academic discipline. These officers assist university program faculty in degree planning, syllabus creation, curriculum mapping, course mapping and scheduling, instructional content creation, compliance and more.
  • Curriculum Designers work closely with faculty members across the curriculum lifecycle, from initial planning through content development and revision, to deliver educational courses aligned with learning objectives and tailored to student needs. Their approach integrates adult learning theory with instructional design principles and methodologies to ensure the application of best practices throughout course creation and content curation.
  • Instructional Designers contribute their expertise in developing engaging course materials and innovative interactive learning activities that enhance student learning and develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills essential in health care education. They assist faculty with effectively integrating and using educational technologies to enrich the online teaching and learning experience.

Cross-functional collaboration enables each team member to bring their unique perspective and expertise to the team, including accreditation requirements, andragogical and pedagogical best practices, adult learning principles, and educational technologies to produce exceptional curricula and learning outcomes.

Infographic illustrating EIM's Curriculum Design and Development team's four main services: Curriculum Development, Course Production, Course Evaluation, and Course Delivery, arranged in four distinct segments.
EIM’s Curriculum Development and Design team helps to facilitate best practices in hybrid education through faculty training, course design and delivery, and technology integrations.

Strategic Phases in Hybrid Curriculum Development

Developing a high-quality hybrid curriculum requires a strategic, phased approach. Cross-functional teams work together across four critical phases to create exemplary courses and enriched student learning experiences. Each phase ensures the curriculum meets educational standards and prepares students for professional excellence.

Curriculum Planning: Leadership Kick-Off, Alignment, and Planning

Initial kick-off and alignment meetings with Program and Curriculum Directors are held to establish shared goals, activities, timelines, and stakeholders for each phase of the curriculum development process.

Subsequent curriculum planning sessions are crucial for establishing the foundation of the educational program and ensuring alignment between course offerings and desired learning outcomes. Important activities include:

  • Mission Alignment: Requisite courses are identified and aligned with the program’s mission, vision, and desired learning goals.
  • Competency Definition: Learning objectives and critical competencies are defined and organized according to best practices for the field.
  • Curriculum Integration: Courses and content are systematically sequenced and integrated across the curriculum by scaffolding objectives to optimize student learning and professional competencies.
  • Standardization Verification: Curriculum mapping is performed to verify that course objectives align with professional educational standards, accreditation standards, and domains covered in licensure examinations. This process ensures that the curriculum meets industry benchmarks and adequately prepares students for licensure exams and professional practice.
  • Approval Process: Completed curriculum plans are submitted to institution leadership and curriculum committee for approval.
  • Faculty Development: Faculty onboarding and training plans are created based on instructional needs.
  • Technology Integration: Educational technologies are evaluated and integrated to ensure optimal curriculum delivery and data tracking capabilities.
  • Template Design: Course templates are designed to facilitate the implementation of best practices in online teaching and learning while adhering to institutional brand guidelines. These templates serve as standardized frameworks for course delivery, ensuring consistency in structure and presentation across various courses within the institution.

Curriculum Production: Course Designing and Content Development

The curriculum production phase focuses on designing detailed courses, developing captivating course content, supporting faculty, and ensuring quality assurance. Course designing requires close collaboration between faculty and curriculum designers to develop detailed course maps and module plans for each course.

Together, this team works to transfer foundational educational and clinical knowledge to students using high-quality, evidence-based, and engaging instructional content. Important activities include:

  • Rapport Establishment: Kick-off and alignment meetings between faculty members and curriculum designers establish professional rapport, review the course development process and responsibilities, and introduce new faculty to an educational technology toolkit.
  • Curriculum Structuring: Course Maps and Module Plans are developed to outline the scope and sequence of learning activities and their alignment with course and module learning objectives.
  • Content Development: Asynchronous video lectures are developed using best practices in online learning to ensure the delivery of engaging instructional content to students.
  • Engagement Strategies: Interactive learning activities are used for formative assessment of key concepts within the lesson and are part of the student and course evaluation cycle.
  • Evaluation Improvement: Summative assignments and assessments are part of the student and course evaluation cycle and enable continuous curriculum improvements based on accumulated insights and data.
  • Collaborative Learning: Class discussions and peer-to-peer learning opportunities are built into the course using a suite of online collaboration and discussion tools that maximize student engagement in online courses.
  • Synchronous Interaction: Synchronous sessions are planned with the best practices in online teaching. Break-out rooms and other strategies are encouraged for optimal student engagement with one another and course content.
  • Skill Development: Lab immersion instructional content is planned and created to develop essential psychomotor skills and clinical competencies.
Graphic displaying 'The 4 Stages of Tissues and Healing' course, showcasing the types of activities EIM's Curriculum Development and Design team specializes in crafting.
Example of the types of activities EIM’s Curriculum Development and Design team specializes in crafting.

Curriculum Delivery: LMS Integration, Content Delivery, and Support

Hybrid curriculum delivery is dependent on the effective use and integration of innovative educational technologies to supplement in-person learning, enhance student engagement, and achieve learning outcomes.

Successful curriculum delivery further requires functionality and accessibility testing and ongoing technical support to ensure a high-quality and trouble-free learning experience. Important activities include:

  • Quality Assurance: Curriculum and Instructional Designers complete a thorough course audit prior to release in the LMS. Functionality testing is performed on all course content, to include instructional videos, interactives, assessments, and hyperlinks to external resources.  Accessibility testing is performed to ensure compliance with
  • Support Collaboration: Curriculum and Instructional Designers collaborate with the institution’s IT Help Desk to provide an umbrella of support services to faculty and students. Responsive technical support that provides faculty and students with quick resolution of issues improves the overall teaching and learning experience.
  • Enhancement Planning: Regular meetings discuss support tickets, trends, and plan further enhancements.

Curriculum Evaluation: Performance Analysis and Improvements

Continuing a collaborative approach to curriculum evaluation ensures a thorough analysis of learning and maximizes the potential for course improvement opportunities.

A thorough course evaluation analyzes student performance, faculty and student feedback, student learning behaviors or curriculum performance.  Detailed course analyses across these areas will identify areas of instructional strength and weakness and form a basis for course improvements. Important evaluations include:

  • Performance Analysis: Student performance is assessed through aggregate and individual course, assessment, and assignment grades. Thorough curriculum and course mapping processes enable the program and faculty to assess student learning in relation to course objectives, taxonomy levels, accreditation standards, and professional licensure domains.
  • Feedback Utilization: Faculty and Student Course Evaluations provide keen insight into the overall teaching and learning experience. A collaborative review of this feedback will identify opportunities to refine course content, instructional methods, or assessment strategies to improve student learning.
  • Behavioral Evaluation: Evaluating student learning behaviors requires the data-informed analysis of how students interacted with course content and learning objects.
  • Support Insights: Help desk ticketing to understand common student questions and challenges. These data will underscore clarifications or enhancements to are necessary for curriculum improvement.

The evaluation cycle repeats regularly to enable continuous quality improvement of individual courses and the overall curriculum plan. Following these best practices for hybrid curriculum development ensures educational quality and strong student outcomes. The cross-functional team approach allows for excellence in health care education.

Faculty Development for Hybrid Curriculum Excellence

Developing a highly skilled faculty is critical for curriculum excellence. Targeted training programs and conferences help expand instructors’ knowledge on key topics such as:

  • Structured Design: Curriculum frameworks and models that ensure faculty understand the coordinated structure and evidence-based curriculum design principles.
  • Hybrid MethodologyHybrid teaching methods that prepare faculty to blend online and in-person learning activities tailored to curriculum goals effectively.
  • Technology Integration: Educational technologies that build skills in leveraging platforms to create engaging content and assessments.
  • Instructional Innovation: Best practices in learning sciences that keep faculty updated on cognitive science research to enhance instructional strategies.
  • Assessment Excellence: Assessment strategies using high-quality rubrics, exams, simulations and other evaluation tools to accurately measure student learning and skill development.
  • Professional Development: Specialized certificate programs that provide intensive training on curriculum-related instructional design and academic excellence.

By continuously cultivating faculty competence, programs empower instructors to be active partners in developing high-quality, innovative curricula that meets accreditation standards. Their classroom expertise and mastery of the hybrid curriculum framework and evidence-based practices ensure impactful teaching and exceptional student outcomes.

Graphic highlighting EIM's Support Portal features, enabling users to submit tickets and access a wealth of resources.
Create tickets directly from EIM’s Support Portal page, where you can also search for articles and other valuable resources.

Enhancing Hybrid Health Care Curriculum for Future Clinicians

Developing exceptional hybrid curricula in health care education hinges on strategic planning, collaboration, and continuous improvement. By uniting program leaders, faculty, curriculum experts, and accrediting bodies, educational programs can implement curricula that exceed standards and adapt to evolving health care needs.

Incorporating educational technologies and providing faculty-targeted training are crucial for creating interactive, student-centered learning experiences. These efforts ensure that graduates are well-prepared clinicians equipped for the complexities of modern health care.

Investing in a rigorous development process underscores a commitment to educational excellence, readying students for successful health care careers through innovation and quality.

For institutions looking to explore or enhance hybrid education in health care, EIM stands ready to assist. With a wealth of experience in developing high-quality, innovative curricula, our team can guide you through every step of the process. Contact us for any questions or to learn more about how hybrid education can transform your institution.

The Case for Holistic Admissions in Graduate Education. Plus, a Real-World Case Study

There is no argument that creating well-rounded and diverse learning environments prepare students to enter the real world in a variety of professions. But how can higher education institutions, especially in graduate studies, achieve this goal while tackling so many other priorities?

It all begins with framing the admissions process. When enrollment leaders intentionally focus on employing holistic admissions practices at the beginning of the student recruitment cycle, they ensure a foundation is built for diverse learning experiences and a diverse class mix.

What Is Holistic Admissions?

In graduate education, in particular, it marks a significant shift from traditional admissions criteria, offering a more comprehensive view of an applicant’s potential. This method evaluates candidates beyond the confines of test scores and GPA, considering a myriad of factors like personal experiences, extracurricular involvement, leadership qualities, and diverse perspectives.

In this article, let’s explore the philosophy behind holistic admissions in graduate education, how to identify and address barriers to applying, and explore a real-world example of its implementation.

Why Incorporate Holistic Evaluation in Graduate Admissions

Holistic evaluation in graduate admissions is pivotal for two key reasons: it broadens opportunities for qualified candidates from non-traditional backgrounds and enhances the diversity and richness of the graduate student community, benefiting students, faculty, and the university as a whole.

Firstly, by adopting a holistic admissions approach, graduate programs open doors to a wider range of capable individuals. Traditional metrics like test scores or GPAs don’t always capture a candidate’s full potential. Holistic evaluation considers varied experiences and achievements, ensuring that candidates who may excel in graduate studies, despite non-traditional academic journeys, are not overlooked. This approach acknowledges that capability and potential for academic success extend beyond conventional benchmarks.

Additionally, by creating pathways for more diverse cohorts, institutions also graduate professionals equipped to provide culturally competent service. In health care, patients have reported feeling more respected, understood, and able to discuss health concerns more openly with physicians of a similar demographic background. Shared identity can facilitate better doctor-patient communication.

Secondly, a diverse graduate student body, which holistic admissions fosters, is a tremendous asset. Diversity in backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences enriches the learning environment. It leads to more robust discussions, innovative problem-solving, and a deeper understanding of complex subjects.

This diversity benefits not just the students, who gain from exposure to a broader range of perspectives, but also the faculty and the entire university community. A more varied student body prepares all students for a global and diverse workforce, fostering an academic environment that mirrors the multifaceted nature of the world outside academia.

How to Identify and Address Barriers to Applying

Even highly qualified underrepresented students face unique barriers to accessing graduate programs. Proactively identifying and addressing those barriers is key to increasing diversity. Common obstacles include:

  • Cost and access to test prep for standardized exams required for admission.
  • Lack of transparency around eligibility, admissions processes, and funding availability.
  • Insufficient advising resources and mentorship on graduate pathways.
  • Burdensome application components that do not consider differing opportunities among applicants.
  • Time needed to complete the degree.

Strategies to dismantle barriers include:

  • Provide free or low-cost prep programming for required standardized tests or consider eliminating standardized test requirements.
  • Clearly communicate admissions processes, timing, eligibility and funding on your website.
  • Host info sessions focused on admissions requirements. Feature current underrepresented students.
  • Simplify applications, limit fees, and offer tiered fee waivers.
  • Evaluate eligibility criteria that disproportionately exclude underrepresented applicants.
  • Establish a preparatory bootcamp or personalized mentorship to help students submit competitive applications.
  • Accelerate the timeline for completed degree requirements.

The path to graduate study contains obstacles, seen and unseen. Reduce barriers through transparency, advising, and by reevaluating the entanglement of biases in traditional admissions norms. Meet talented students where they are and empower their access.

Case Study: Holistic Admissions at Augustana University

Augustana University recently launched an innovative Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program with holistic evaluation as a key component.

Compared to the average US DPT program, Augustana’s first cohort, which launched in June of 2023, identified as 45% minority students versus the national average of 27% based on data from the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

Specifically, Augustana enrolled approximately 11% more African American students and 6% more multi-racial students compared to other DPT programs. Beyond racial diversity, Augustana’s cohort also reflects balance across gender, age groups, geographic locations and more.

Overcoming Barriers

Augustana identified several common barriers that can often exclude qualified candidates from underrepresented backgrounds and proactively addressed these issues:

  • Standardized Tests: By not requiring GRE scores, Augustana removed unnecessary testing barriers and associated prep obstacles.
  • Timing/Logistics: Augustana realized their original admissions and start timing posed challenges, so they adjusted key dates to improve accessibility.
  • Admissions Requirements: Augustana identified admissions criteria that excluded otherwise qualified candidates capable of succeeding and meeting the challenges of the program.

Intentional Strategies

Augustana attributes the successful enrollment of their diverse inaugural cohort to intentional strategies:

  • Holistic Evaluation: Admissions decisions relied on a wide range of application components beyond academics to understand applicants’ qualifications and context more fully, including life experiences and personal attributes.
  • Values Messaging: Throughout the program development, Augustana emphasized diversity and inclusion in their mission statement and external communications.
  • Personal Outreach: The admissions team conducted customized outreach and communications with each prospective student to address background-specific questions and build connections.

Opportunities to Improve

While pleased with the inaugural cohort diversity, Augustana recognizes the need to maintain momentum for future classes. Next steps include:

  • Sustaining Success: Augustana will focus on continuing strong diversity rates for subsequent cohorts through their proven strategies.
  • Expanding Reach: The program plans to foster more relationships with minority-serving colleges to broaden their connection to underrepresented student populations.

By starting with holistic admissions as a first principle and intentionally addressing barriers, Augustana cultivated an inclusive entering class. Their learnings can inform other programs seeking to enhance access and representation.

The Journey Beyond Admissions

In addition to holistic evaluation, Augustana acknowledges another crucial aspect: the necessity for robust student support and customized retention strategies. While the program excelled in recruiting and enrolling a diverse inaugural cohort, it is now equally focused on emphasizing student success during the academic journey.

Final Thoughts on Holistic Admissions

As we conclude our exploration of holistic admissions in graduate education, it’s clear that this approach is more than a trend—it’s a transformative shift in recognizing and nurturing potential. By prioritizing holistic evaluation, graduate programs are not just opening doors for a wider, more diverse range of candidates; they are actively shaping a future where academic success and professional excellence are defined by a mosaic of experiences and perspectives.

Augustana University’s case study is a testament to the power of intentional, inclusive admissions practices. By dismantling traditional barriers and embracing a broader view of candidate potential, Augustana has not only enriched its own community but has also set a benchmark for other institutions.

Looking ahead, the challenge for graduate programs nationwide is to take inspiration from such successes and apply these principles consistently. It’s about creating a ripple effect that transforms the landscape of graduate education. This means continuously evaluating and refining admissions practices, fostering environments where diversity is celebrated, and ensuring that every qualified candidate has a fair chance to excel. In doing so, we don’t just change how we select students; we change the very fabric of our educational institutions and ultimately the professions in which our students ultimately serve, grow and teach in.

Clinical Placements for Graduate Students: Challenges and Best Practices

Clinical placements, also known as practicums or internships, are an integral part of graduate education in health care professions. These supervised practice experiences provide students with the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge and skills in real-world clinical settings, allowing them to transition from novice practitioners to competent professionals.

In addition to fostering professional competencies, clinical placements can lead to the establishment of valuable professional networks and deepen career interests and preferences. Students interact with clinicians, health care providers and potential employers, creating opportunities for mentorship, job offers and future career pathing and advancement.

In this article, let’s explore key aspects of clinical education, challenges faced when implementing clinical placements, and identify opportunities to institute best practices.

1. Securing Suitable Clinical Placements

Program administrators face a formidable challenge in securing enough suitable clinical placements for their students. The competitive nature of clinical settings, particularly in specialized areas of practice, makes it difficult to guarantee placements for all students.

To navigate this challenge, program administrators must foster and maintain strong relationships with health care providers and clinical facilities nationally. Building and sustaining these connections is vital for expanding placement opportunities and negotiating mutually beneficial agreements.

Additionally, administrators must proactively maintain up-to-date databases of available sites, with a contingency plan in place for situations where identified placements may not be available.

How to Find Clinical Placements for Graduate Students

Collaborating with a strategic partner proves instrumental in enhancing the effectiveness of this placement process. Partners specializing in the development and management of graduate education programs provide a valuable network of established partnerships with health care providers.

By engaging with a learning solutions partner, higher education institutions gain access to a pre-established infrastructure for securing clinical placements. This involves tapping into a network that has been cultivated through the partner’s industry expertise, ensuring a more streamlined and effective process for securing diverse and suitable clinical opportunities for all students.

The benefits of such collaboration include increased efficiency, access to a broader range of placement options and strategic support from industry experts, contributing to a more robust and successful clinical placement program.

2. Accreditation Compliance for Clinical Placements

Clinical education experiences must adhere to standards set by accrediting bodies, pivotal organizations that establish criteria for education and training in specific professions. These bodies play a crucial role in evaluating programs to ensure they meet quality and effectiveness standards.

Accreditation requirements encompass various aspects of clinical education, including a minimum number of clinical hours, exposure to diverse clinical settings, qualified preceptors and regular supervision and evaluation. Meeting these accreditation requirements is vital for the reputation and credibility of the program.

However, the administrative and logistical burden associated with compliance can be overwhelming.

How to Ensure Clinical Placement Compliance

Establishing clear and standardized placement guidelines is paramount to ensure consistency and compliance with accreditation requirements. This clarity streamlines processes, reducing the risk of oversight and ensuring that each clinical placement meets the necessary standards.

Additionally, utilize technology for efficient data management and communication. Implementing user-friendly platforms for tasks such as matching students with qualified preceptors and processing placement applications can enhance the organization of clinical placement logistics.

Finally, consider partnering with a reputable health care learning solutions company, such as Evidence In Motion (EIM), to significantly ease the administrative burden of ensuring accreditation compliance. These partners provide national access to vetted placement sites, reducing limitations of state or regional networks.

Additionally, partners offer administrative support to organize program documentation, ensure compliance across sites, and expand placement capacity, enabling universities to focus on growth rather than logistical barriers. Opting to collaborate with established national partners allows universities to scale clinical education while maintaining rigorous compliance with accreditation requirements.

3. Preceptor Recruitment and On-Boarding

The effective recruitment and management of preceptors pose multifaceted challenges. One of the foremost hurdles is the perpetual quest for preceptors who not only possess the requisite expertise but are also available and willing to support the program’s needs.

Complicating matters is the financial dimension, with preceptor fees often presenting a budgetary challenge for educational institutions. The onboarding process adds another layer of complexity, demanding significant time and resources to align preceptors with program objectives, policies and procedures.

Preceptor Recruitment and On-Boarding Strategies

Addressing the challenges in preceptor recruitment and management demands a strategic approach. Building robust relationships with health care providers is essential, emphasizing collaboration’s mutual benefits to establish enduring partnerships and ensure a consistent pool of qualified preceptors.

Transparent communication and negotiation can effectively manage financial considerations, fostering mutually beneficial agreements aligned with the program’s budget constraints.

Streamlining preceptor onboarding involves providing clear guidelines, comprehensive resources and targeted training sessions. This accelerates their integration into the program, fostering a sense of partnership. Structured, evidence-based preceptor training models have proven effective in developing qualified preceptors.

Finally, effective communication, achieved through regular meetings and technology-driven updates, forms the core of successful preceptor-faculty alignment, creating a collaborative environment that enhances the overall quality of the clinical education experience.

4. Establishing a National Footprint

With the growing number of hybrid programs that recruit a national student body, it’s important to note the challenges specific to this model. With students residing across the country, coordinating clinical placements that meet both the program’s requirements and the students’ location preferences becomes a complex task.

Different states often have varying regulations and licensure requirements for clinical placements. For example, requirements for supervisor credentials and licenses can differ significantly between states. Negotiating this maze of regulatory landscapes can be daunting for program administrators, leading to delays and uncertainties in securing suitable placements for students.

In addition, unlike traditional, locally focused programs, hybrid programs may struggle with a lack of established site partnerships across a broader geographical area. This scarcity can impede the program’s ability to offer diverse and high-quality clinical experiences for its students.

How to Find Clinical Placements for Students in Different States

To overcome the challenge of limited site partnerships, proactive efforts should be made to establish a robust and diverse network of clinical placement sites across the nation. This involves outreach, relationship-building and collaboration with health care institutions, ensuring a wide range of options for students.

Streamlining processes and creating standardized templates that align with the regulations of different states can help navigate the diversity in regulatory requirements. By establishing a clear and consistent framework, program administrators can facilitate smoother communication and ensure compliance with various regional guidelines.

Embracing technology is crucial for bridging communication gaps caused by geographical dispersion. Virtual meetings, webinars and online platforms can facilitate regular and transparent communication between program administrators, students and placement sites, fostering a sense of unity despite physical distances.

5. Ensuring Student Success in Clinical Placements

One common challenge in clinical placements is the potential misalignment of expectations between students, program administrators and placement sites. Students may have varying expectations regarding the scope of their responsibilities, learning opportunities and the level of mentorship provided, leading to potential dissatisfaction and frustration.

The lack of standardized assessment criteria across clinical placement sites can pose a challenge in evaluating student performance consistently. Divergent evaluation methods and expectations may hinder a fair and comprehensive assessment of students, impacting their learning outcomes and overall experience.

Inadequate mentorship can hinder student success during clinical placements. Some students may find themselves in environments where mentorship is not readily available, impacting their ability to integrate theory into practice and develop essential clinical skills.

Clinical Placement Success Factors

Establishing clear and transparent communication is essential for clinical placements. Collaboration between program administrators and placement sites articulates goals, responsibilities and learning outcomes, minimizing misunderstandings among stakeholders.

Implementing standardized assessment tools across clinical sites promotes consistency in evaluating student performance, aligning with program objectives for a comprehensive assessment of clinical competencies.

Preparing students for the rigors of clinical practice is crucial for their success and the safety of patients. Administrators must ensure that students receive adequate pre-placement preparation, including workshops, seminars and simulations, to address topics such as communication, professionalism and time management. Additionally, administrators must carefully vet student candidates to ensure they possess the necessary academic and personal qualities to succeed in clinical settings.

Developing quality assurance protocols, including regular site evaluations and feedback mechanisms, ensures high-quality clinical placements. Mentorship training programs for clinical preceptors enhance their skills, contributing to a more supportive and enriching clinical experience for students.

Regular feedback loops between students, preceptors and administrators are crucial for continuous improvement, allowing real-time adjustments and maintaining a student-centered approach. Multi-layered communication strategies, including virtual meetings and on-site visits, provide a holistic understanding of the clinical placement experience, fostering effective collaboration and quality assurance. Specific technology tools like Typhon and Exxat can enhance coordination and data sharing between stakeholders.

Final Thoughts

Clinical placements are a pivotal component of health care education, providing students with invaluable real-world experience. However, implementing high-quality placements that meet accreditation standards and student needs poses multifaceted challenges.

Ultimately, clinical placements demand substantial time, effort and resources. But the return on investment is immense, producing competent graduates ready to deliver quality patient care. Consider working with a learning solutions company such as EIM to help you navigate the process.

With resources often spread thin across various graduate programs in higher education institutions, partnering with a specialized entity like EIM concentrates resources on a singular program, improving the quality and reach of the student clinical placement. Plus, EIM allows partners to scale quickly and more efficiently.

How BGSU’s Physical Therapy Program Increased Access and Cohort Diversity

Higher education institutions across America face declining enrollments, but some are bucking the trend through creative modernizations. Bowling Green State University (BGSU), for example, has boosted enrollments by 14% over 10 years by expanding in-demand offerings.

One of the key strategies BGSU has utilized has been applying EIM’s hybrid accelerated education model to their Doctor of Physical Therapy program. The model increases access for non-traditional students, helps address diversity gaps, while extending geographic reach and financial sustainability for institutions.

In a recent webcast, BGSU President Dr. Rodney Rogers explained how strategic partnerships help unlock innovation, achieve scale quickly and share risk in uncertain and complex new program areas.

Overcoming Key Barriers Through Collaboration

Rather than go it alone, BGSU partnered with EIM to develop an innovative DPT program. This online-hybrid model combines digital instruction with intensive on-campus labs, also leveraging EIM’s national clinical placement network.

As EIM co-founder John Childs outlined, specialized clinical programs like physical therapy pose major independent development barriers for universities. These include scarce faculty recruitment bandwidth, accreditation intricacies, and limited clinical placement opportunities.

“If you’re going down the path of trying to launch programs on your own, the two biggest hurdles you’ll face are recruiting faculty and securing enough clinical sites to enroll more than 30 to 35 students in a cohort,” said Childs. “Institutions reach out to us as a partner to help them launch these programs at scale in a way that’s faster than they could if they did it on their own.”

Accelerated Model Facilitates Scale & Diversity

This accelerated two-year hybrid model benefits students through faster completion than traditional three-year programs. However, the unique model still delivers on the in-person, hands-on components that facilitate close student bonds.

In addition, the approach promotes diversity by unlocking access. EIM conducts holistic admissions assessments alongside applicant background. This helps attract promising students from underserved regions who couldn’t otherwise uproot for a campus program.

Of BGSU’s 163 trailblazing DPT students so far, 61% come from out-of-state and 34% are non-white/students of color. “This program is meeting the needs of society, and the needs of the profession,” said President Rogers. “34% of our student population are students of color and in the physical therapy profession there is a real issue of not having appropriate balance of individuals with a variety of different backgrounds.”

Positive Early Returns Setting Stage for Wider Adoption

President Rogers revealed the accelerated hybrid model is already “running ahead of projection” financially after just two years, with enrollment ramp vastly exceeding initial targets. This early success helped overcome initial skepticism about practical barriers like faculty hiring and clinical placement logistics at scale.

Given these tangible upside demonstrations, Rogers said the administration is now receptive towards applying the specialized partnership approach more widely. BGSU is exploring utilizing the hybrid accelerated model for another highly in-demand health care discipline, building on the success of the PT program and further aligning to student lifestyle needs and equitable access imperatives in higher education and health care professions.

Final Thoughts

As universities strive to fulfill accessibility missions amidst a challenging environment, specialized collaborations allow accelerated innovation in high-value fields like health care. The initial promise of such pioneering accelerated hybrid models suggests universities may increasingly future-proof sustainability by leveraging partners’ expertise.

Yet, it is crucial to ensure accountability, grounding these collaborations in alignment with public priorities through effective structuring. If the initial successes of programs like BGSU DPT to propel equal access improvements for underserved students seeking alternative education models, these partnerships could ignite a renaissance that extends throughout the entire purpose of higher education.

Accelerate Enrollment Growth in Higher Education …and Sustain Positive Momentum

With demographic headwinds creating enrollment challenges for many colleges and universities, institutional innovation and adaptation is needed to drive growth. In a recent panel discussion on this topic hosted by Gray DI, higher education innovators shared strategies and insights on how institutions can accelerate enrollment expansion even in the current climate.

As John Childs, co-founder of Evidence In Motion (EIM) stated, “If you think you can grow, you can. If you don’t think you can grow, you can’t.” The panel made a compelling case that willingness to take risks and try new approaches can stimulate enrollment growth regardless of external demographic factors. Creative partnerships and coordinated efforts to evolve programming, leverage data, and rethink legacy practices allows schools to better attract and retain students.

In this article, let’s explore five key themes of the All-Star Panel:

Leveraging Data and Technology

Technology platforms designed for higher education, incorporating AI and machine learning, can simplify the analysis of data, forecast student demand and program potential, and facilitate more informed decision-making regarding academic programs. As one example, software can optimize course scheduling to better align with diverse student needs.

“We have algorithms that do predict – they’re predictive algorithms throughout our software platform. AI will help them get smarter and more predictive of what students are going to do and what the demand is,” said Sarah Collins of Ad Astra.

By bringing together disconnected data sources, schools can facilitate fact-based evaluations of program opportunities to accelerate growth decisions. Data transparency and consistency enables productive program planning conversations.

Expanding the Academic Portfolio

Schools can leverage course-sharing consortiums and partnerships to quickly and affordably add attractive new programs like health care, tech and cybersecurity. This expands student options at lower risk. As John Childs explained, such partnerships can enable launching larger, more differentiated programs right out of the gate.

Taking a bottom-up approach by packaging existing courses into new interdisciplinary offerings can also stimulate growth efficiently. According to panelist Bob Atkins, Gray president, this leverages existing assets to potentially appeal to new audiences.

Improving Access and Alignment

Strategically optimizing course schedules boosts retention and completions by giving diverse students the flexible access they need. This also improves revenue per student. Scheduling and resource allocation data, when integrated, can inform wider enrollment strategies (e.g., for transfer students and adult learners) with student needs in mind.

As Collins stated, “The schedule is a big deal for people – they have lives. Not everybody goes to full-time university and college and can take classes whenever they’re offered.”

Overcoming Internal Roadblocks

While external solutions are straightforward conceptually, cultural change management is critical to enable institutions to rethink models and accelerate innovation. Communicating connections to mission and strategy can help gain faculty/staff buy-in. Identifying internal program ownership and aligning stakeholders also smooths transformation.

“We need to find an owner – and we need to make sure that they are able to champion that,” said Rize Education’s Charlie Restrepo when discussing keys to adopting new academic models. “Ownership and alignment – those are the two words that we talk about all the time.”

The Will to Grow

The panel made a compelling case that creative partnerships and coordinated efforts to evolve programming, leverage data, and rethink legacy practices can drive enrollment growth even in the context of demographic challenges. The key is leadership and willingness to adapt.

As John Childs summarized, “If you’re willing to do those things, it’s not a short putt, but it is possible to grow even despite the demographic aspects. I don’t believe in the demographic cliff either, by the way. I think there are demographic issues, but the biggest issue is the willingness to go to college.”

Final Thoughts

Driving sustainable growth requires looking beyond quick fixes or isolated strategies. Institutions must take an integrated approach focused on understanding and serving students while also streamlining operations through technology and partnerships.

Success stories highlighted in the discussion prove growth is possible for schools willing to embrace change, even as economic and demographic trends create headwinds in the sector. Though the path forward takes work, the payoff for institutions, and the expanded access for students, makes the effort worthwhile.

Driving long term, sustainable growth in higher ed is what Evidence In Motion does best. To learn more about how we partner with colleges and universities across the country to power innovative health care education solutions, visit www.eimpartnerships.com

Wilson College to Introduce Cutting-Edge Health Care Graduate Programs

Evidence In Motion (EIM) proudly announces a groundbreaking partnership with Wilson College to launch graduate degree programs catering to the burgeoning demand in health care professions. The collaboration will offer aspiring professionals the opportunity to pursue degrees in Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD), and Master’s in Speech-Language Pathology (MS-SLP).

Located in Chambersburg, Pa., Wilson College, known for its commitment to student-focused education, will spearhead this initiative to address the critical shortage of health care professionals in our communities. Wesley R. Fugate, Ph.D., president of Wilson College, expressed enthusiasm about this venture, stating, “This new partnership with EIM aligns with our mission to provide accessible and relevant curricula that meets the needs of today’s students. These degrees will help meet the pressing demand for well-equipped health care professionals in Pennsylvania and beyond.”

The degree programs, delivered using EIM’s hybrid and accelerated education model, will be accessible to students nationwide. Most of the coursework will be available online, supplemented by hands-on lab immersion experiences conducted in Philadelphia, Pa. Emphasizing a career-focused approach, each program integrates clinical and capstone components, ensuring a seamless transition into clinical practice and post-professional education programs.

Hybrid Learning a Growing Trend

This strategic alliance reflects a growing trend toward hybrid graduate programs in high-demand fields. Pradeep Khandelwal, CEO of EIM, expressed, “Wilson College embodies our commitment to student-centered education, and we are thrilled to welcome them into our growing network of universities. We are confident that our collaboration will not only enrich their institution but, more importantly, contribute significantly to the lasting success and achievements of their students.”

Pending accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the OTD program is scheduled for launch in January 2026, followed by DPT in August 2027, and finally, MS-SLP in January 2028.

Elissa Heil, Ph.D., Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty at Wilson College, emphasized the significance of the accelerated hybrid model, stating, “The accelerated hybrid model in graduate health care studies helps students reach their professional goals more quickly while training them at the highest standards of their chosen field. Wilson College is excited to pursue this option for tomorrow’s leaders in the allied health industry.”

New Programs Address High Demand

Projected growth in health care programs reflects increasing demand in the sector. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Employment of Physical Therapists is projected to grow 15% from 2022 to 2032, Occupational Therapy 12%, and Speech-Language Pathology 19%.

President Fugate concluded, “Through this partnership, Wilson College is leading important health care and educational transformation not only in our region but across the national landscape.”

Stay informed about trends in health care education and new innovative partnerships on the EIM Partner Newsroom.

About Wilson College:

Founded in 1869, Wilson College is a private coeducational liberal arts college offering bachelor’s degrees in 32 majors and 40 minors in high-demand and innovative fields including education, nursing, equine studies, veterinary nursing, and sport management, as well as graduate degrees in education, fine arts, the humanities, nursing, and organizational leadership. With degree programs of study available in person and online, the College is committed to making higher education accessible and affordable for today’s students. Visit wilson.edu for more information.

About Evidence In Motion (EIM):

Evidence In Motion is recognized as a health care learning solutions company dedicated to reimagining education that transforms every community. We do this by partnering with leading universities and colleges to power hybrid, accelerated graduate programs in health care.

The Ultimate Guide to Graduate Student Recruitment for 2024

Crafting programs that resonate with the evolving needs of students and align with emerging industry demands is more than a strategic move; it is a prerequisite for attracting and growing student cohorts.

In this article, we’ll explore three key phases for enhancing higher education graduate student recruitment. We’ll begin by understanding the audience, move on to crafting a tailored marketing plan aligned with prospective students’ aspirations and personas, and finally, guide you through the execution of a prospective student engagement plan that utilizes digital tools and data-driven insights for a responsive enrollment approach.

1. Understand Your Audience

The student recruitment process requires nuance, and the initial step involves immersing yourself in a deep understanding of your audience. Just as architects study the lay of the land before drafting blueprints, institutions must engage in comprehensive student research to inform prospective student strategies.

Begin by unraveling your ideal students’ demographics, objectives, and potential pain points. Let’s delve into some examples:

  • Academic Backgrounds: Scrutinize the degrees earned by those entering your programs. Recognizing the diverse academic journeys of matriculating students provides essential insights into their intellectual foundations and informs the adaptability of your programs.
  • Career Trajectories: Distinguish between those transitioning directly from undergraduate studies and those navigating a career change. Understanding this dichotomy allows for tailored messaging and support systems, catering to the distinct needs of each group.
  • Communication Preferences: Explore the channels through which your prospective students prefer to receive information. Whether it’s through traditional channels like email, or more contemporary platforms such as social media and text, aligning communication strategies with preferences enhances engagement.
  • Barriers to Pursuing Graduate Education: Identify obstacles that may deter prospective students from pursuing advanced degrees. Whether financial, logistical, or program-specific, addressing these barriers proactively demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity and accessibility.
  • Decision Timelines: Gauge the urgency with which prospective students expect decisions. Understanding their timelines allows for streamlined processes, ensuring that the recruitment journey aligns with their expectations and enhances overall satisfaction.

By unraveling these intricacies, institutions can architect recruitment strategies that resonate, creating an environment where students feel not only recognized but deeply understood. This foundational understanding becomes the scaffold upon which successful recruitment initiatives are constructed.

Pro Tip: Consider User Stories

Armed with the insights gained from student research, the next stride in crafting a compelling recruitment strategy involves transcending data into relatable narratives through user stories. While the foundational research paints a comprehensive picture of your audience, user stories elevate the understanding by personalizing the goals, values, and priorities of prospective students.

The user story format, adaptable to various scenarios, typically follows the structure: “As a [type of student], I want [goal] so that [benefit].” The power of user stories becomes evident as they breathe life into abstract data. Here are some examples:

As a recent graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, I want to pursue a Doctorate in Physical Therapy to deepen my understanding of rehabilitation techniques, enabling me to make a significant impact on the well-being of patients.

As a Physical Therapy Assistant, I want to enhance my clinical skills and increase my earning potential so that I can provide better financial support for my family and contribute to improved patient outcomes.

These narratives provide a human touch to your recruitment strategy, aligning institutional offerings with the genuine aspirations of your target audience. In essence, user stories become the narrative thread that weaves the ambitions of prospective students into the fabric of your program’s value proposition. Aim for 2-3 core user stories that encapsulate the primary use-cases.

2. Developing a Content Plan for Graduate Student Recruitment

With a clear understanding of your student demographics and goals, the subsequent step in the recruitment process is to strategically plan your content. This entails mapping out how and when to engage with prospective students throughout various stages of their decision-making journey.

In developing your plan, a crucial consideration is whether your graduate program marketing should reside within general audience university-wide brand channels or on dedicated program-specific social media and landing pages. While the latter may demand more cross-team collaboration and planning, it provides dedicated spaces where your content can stand out without being overshadowed by the multitude of university-wide posts.

Top-Funnel Content

At the top of the recruitment funnel, the goal is to generate awareness and capture the attention of your target audience. Craft content that resonates with the broader aspirations and challenges faced by your target demographic.

This might include compelling blog posts, engaging social media campaigns, and captivating videos showcasing the overall value proposition of your institution and the unique aspects of your programs. By casting a wide net, you create an initial connection and generate interest among a diverse pool of potential applicants.

In this phase, consider leveraging platforms popular among your target audience and employing search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to ensure visibility. Engaging content that focuses on overarching educational trends, success stories of alumni, evergreen keywords, and the distinct ethos of your institution can serve as a powerful magnet, drawing in prospective students from various backgrounds and interests.

Mid-Funnel Content

Moving down the funnel, mid-funnel content is designed to nurture the interest sparked at the top and provide deeper insights into your programs. Virtual tours, interactive webinars, and informative content tailored to specific academic disciplines play a pivotal role in this stage.

Offering virtual experiences allows prospective students to immerse themselves in the academic environment, visualize their potential educational journey, and engage with faculty members. These personalized touchpoints not only showcase the unique offerings of your institution but also demonstrate a commitment to understanding the individualized needs of each prospective student.

Consider developing content that highlights faculty expertise, research opportunities, and testimonials from current students. Hosting live Q&A sessions or interactive workshops can further facilitate direct engagement and address specific queries. By combining these strategies, you create a dynamic mid-funnel experience that goes beyond showcasing offerings to building a genuine connection with prospective students.

Bottom-Funnel Content

As prospects transition to the bottom of the funnel, the focus shifts towards content that facilitates decision-making and conversion. This includes detailed program guides, financial aid information, and testimonials from successful graduates. Employ targeted email campaigns, text messaging, and one-on-one consultations to provide personalized support, addressing any lingering concerns and guiding students towards the final steps of the application process.

By strategically aligning top-funnel content to generate initial interest, mid-funnel content to nurture engagement, and bottom-funnel content to facilitate conversion, institutions can guide prospective students through a seamless and compelling recruitment journey. This thoughtful recruitment strategy ensures that students feel not only informed but genuinely valued at every stage of their decision-making process.

3. Executing Your Graduate Student Recruitment Plan

The successful execution of your recruitment plan is a multifaceted process that involves strategic content dissemination, multi-channel digital engagement, and continuous optimization. Given the breadth and depth of student recruitment, it’s wise to invest in project management, customer relationship management (CRM), and publishing tools to help you implement your plan in an organized and accountable way.

Utilizing a CRM system can help you effectively manage prospective student data, tailor your communications, and nurture relationships, thereby enhancing your graduate student recruitment strategy. A project management tool can help streamline your content organization, assign dates, and designate responsible team members. Content publishing features and tools that enable scheduling in advance, ensure optimal publishing times, regardless of your immediate availability.

Something important to also consider in your investment strategy is implementing a paid media budget so that your content can be sponsored and reach more people across channels and audiences.

Continuously Track and Optimize

As your recruitment strategy unfolds, monitoring its performance becomes paramount. Leverage web analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, to track key metrics like page views, bounce rates, and time on page. These quantitative insights unveil the effectiveness of your content and enable data-driven optimizations.

Identify high-performing content and dissect its success. Is it the choice of topics, the writing style, or the format that resonates with your audience? Harness these insights to replicate success in future content creation, ensuring a consistent and compelling narrative.

Simultaneously, pinpoint underperforming content and conduct a thorough analysis to understand potential reasons for its lack of engagement. Consider revising and enhancing these pieces or, if necessary, removing them altogether. Moreover, if resources permit, seek direct student feedback through user comments, surveys, and social media monitoring. Understanding how your audience perceives your content and whether it aligns with their expectations allows for dynamic adjustments to deliver the most valuable content possible.

Pro Tip: Stay Agile With Your Content and Design

As you accumulate insights from tracking, you may find opportunities to improve your content’s design and structure. Consider the user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) elements that could enhance your content’s accessibility and engagement.

Simplify navigation to help prospective students quickly find the information they seek. Incorporate strong calls to action (CTAs) to guide visitors towards desired activities, such as subscribing to a newsletter or signing up for an information session. Optimize your website’s loading speed to prevent frustration and improve user experience. Responsive design is also essential, ensuring your content is easily accessible across various devices.

Finally, leverage your insights to refine your graduate student recruitment strategy further. Fine-tune your user stories based on your collected data and adapt your content to meet evolving audience needs. Continuously test and iterate your content strategy to stay ahead of the curve and maintain a competitive advantage.

Next Steps for Enhanced Graduate Student Recruitment

Creating a winning graduate student recruitment strategy requires a deep understanding of your audience, meticulous planning, continuous tracking, and strategic optimization. By putting your prospective students at the center of your strategy process, you can develop engaging and valuable content that resonates with them.

If the prospect of managing this process solo seems overwhelming, consider the value of collaboration. With resources often spread thin across various graduate programs in higher ed institutions, partnering with a specialized entity like Evidence In Motion (EIM) concentrates resources on a singular program, improving the quality and reach of the student journey.

What sets EIM apart is our belief in the intimate connection between program design and student recruitment. Founded by academics in health care education, we’ve pioneered evidence-based practices and expanded health care access through innovative hybrid, accelerated graduate programs.

Reach out today to explore how our unique approach can bolster your institution’s graduate growth plans. We stand as true partners, offering a comprehensive suite of solutions, including student recruitment, to support your program’s evolution and success.

What Is a Hybrid Accelerated Program? Everything You Need to Know

A Hybrid Accelerated Program (HAP) model is an innovative approach to higher education that combines elements of traditional on-campus learning and online education to create an efficient and flexible academic experience. This model also aims to provide students with an expedited path to completing their degree programs while maintaining academic rigor and quality.

In this article, we’ll first review what makes this model attractive to students. Then, we’ll dive into what to consider when designing a HAP. Finally, we’ll explore the benefits of working with a partner to implement this model.

Why Students Value Hybrid Accelerated Programs

Students value HAP for its fusion of online convenience and in-person engagement, enabling them to efficiently earn their degrees while maintaining a strong educational experience. The combination of interactive online modules and face-to-face sessions cultivates a comprehensive learning environment, offering the best of both virtual and real-world education.

Blended Learning

In a HAP model, blended learning is typically delivered through in-person classroom sessions and online learning activities. The exact delivery method can vary based on the educational institution, subject matter, and the goals of the learning experience.

For example, popular models include the “flipped classroom,” where students engage with online content before attending in-person discussions and activities, or the “station rotation” model, where students rotate between online and offline learning stations.

Evidence In Motion’s (EIM) hybrid and accelerated education model, adopted by several higher education institutions across the country, is taught primarily online and includes hands-on lab immersion experiences on campus.

Condensed Timeline

One of the defining features of a HAP is the shortened duration of the degree. Traditional undergraduate degrees typically take four years to complete, but in this model, the timeframe is three years or even less.

Similarly, master’s programs can be completed in a year, instead of the usual two-year timeframe, while a three-year doctorate program can be completed in two.

EIM has pioneered excellence in accelerated, hybrid graduate education, working with partners such as Augustana University, Bowling Green State University, Baylor University, Hanover College, and more to advance condensed timelines that move graduates into the job market sooner.

Technology Integration

Hybrid learning helps students prepare for a hybrid world characterized by a blend of physical and virtual interactions, rapidly evolving technology, and the need for adaptable skills.

Hybrid learning requires students to navigate both online and in-person environments, fostering adaptability and comfort with various modes of interaction. This prepares them to seamlessly transition between physical and virtual settings, a crucial skill in today’s hybrid workplaces.

Additionally, online components encourage self-directed learning, empowering students to take ownership of their education. This self-discipline prepares them for self-guided work scenarios and continuous skill development.

Choice and Flexibility

HAP adoption in higher education significantly broadens the scope of university choices available to students, reducing the geographical mandates that accompany traditional on-campus programs.

With this model, students are no longer compelled to relocate to a specific city or region to attend their desired university. However, it’s important to note that HAPs may require students to temporarily relocate to participate in on-campus curriculum or labs.

This newfound flexibility empowers students to consider universities that excel in their chosen field of study, align with their academic goals, and offer the specific resources and faculty expertise they require – all without uprooting their lives or compromising their commitments.

How to Build a Hybrid Accelerated Program

Building a high-value HAP requires expertise in several areas, including accreditation and program management, clinical site procurement and placement, marketing and student recruitment, admissions and student engagement, and faculty recruitment and development.

When a university seeks to develop a new HAP, it’s important to understand three key phases of the process: needs assessment, curriculum design, and program management.

Needs Assessment

The needs assessment phase begins by defining the purpose and objectives of the proposed program. University leaders and relevant stakeholders collaborate to outline the intended outcomes and the knowledge, skills, and competencies graduates should possess. Simultaneously, they consider the target audience, such as prospective students’ backgrounds, experience levels, and career aspirations.

Market research follows, involving an analysis of industry trends and employment projections. Surveys, focus groups, and interviews may be conducted to gather insights directly from potential students, current professionals, and industry experts. Understanding the job market’s demands helps tailor the program to meet the evolving needs of employers and equip graduates with high-demand skills.

Additionally, stakeholders should review and understand the requirements of federal and state authorities and accreditation institutions. Institutions must objectively assess the desired program’s requirements and identify potential roadblocks.

Curriculum Design

Following a thorough needs assessment, the program design phase is where the vision for the new HAP takes shape. This phase involves translating the identified needs, objectives, and insights into a structured and coherent curriculum that aligns with the university’s goals and resources.

The development of a HAP introduces a unique set of considerations during the program design phase, reflecting the dual emphasis on efficiency and educational quality. In this innovative model, where the fusion of online and in-person learning propels students toward rapid degree completion, curriculum designers must meticulously tailor their approach to align with the intensified learning timeline.

Additionally, accreditation considerations should begin early in the program design phase. Institutions must align their program’s objectives, curriculum, faculty qualifications, and resources with the standards set by accrediting bodies. Regular communication with accrediting agencies can help ensure the program design meets the necessary criteria and prepares for a smoother accreditation process.

Program Management

The program management phase follows program design in a hybrid accelerated program’s lifecycle, encompassing the operational aspects of running the program effectively and ensuring its ongoing success. This phase involves executing recruitment and admissions, implementing the designed curriculum, coordinating faculty and staff efforts, facilitating student engagement, and maintaining the program’s quality and coherence.

A critical component of program management is faculty recruitment and coordination. Program directors work closely with faculty members to ensure the seamless delivery of courses, both in-person and online. They facilitate communication, assist with curriculum implementation, and provide support to address any challenges that may arise during the accelerated pace.

Student recruitment and admissions are another essential component in the program management phase. Program directors and admissions leaders orchestrate activities to onboard qualified students from diverse backgrounds and deliver high-quality educational experiences.

Working with a Partner

When considering a new hybrid accelerated program, universities stand to gain substantial benefits by partnering with an external learning solutions company, such as EIM. These companies bring a wealth of specialized knowledge, experience, and a fresh perspective that can prove invaluable in crafting a successful HAP.

Program-Market Fit

Working with a learning solutions company can be instrumental in ensuring program-market fit for several compelling reasons. Specialized entities such as EIM possess a unique blend of insights into educational trends, technological advancements, and industry demands, enabling them to align program offerings with the needs and expectations of students and the job market.

By staying abreast of technological advancements and online learning best practices, learning solutions companies ensure that the program’s delivery methods match the preferences of modern learners. This, in turn, enhances student engagement and satisfaction.

Furthermore, learning solutions companies often collaborate with industry professionals and advisory boards to validate program content and structure. This external input ensures that program outcomes closely align with industry expectations, boosting graduates’ employability and overall success.

Speed to Market

An expert partner plays a pivotal role in expediting the launch of new programs compared to relying solely on internal processes. Firstly, these professionals bring an outsider’s perspective, which allows them to objectively assess the project’s requirements and identify potential roadblocks. Their experience across diverse institutions equips them with a broad understanding of best practices, enabling them to streamline processes and navigate challenges with precision.

Secondly, external partners possess specialized expertise that can significantly accelerate program development. They are well-versed in current industry trends, emerging technologies, and educational innovations, allowing them to make informed decisions swiftly. This expertise extends to regulatory requirements and accreditation standards, ensuring that program design meets the necessary criteria without unnecessary delays.

Lastly, external partners can dedicate their full attention to the program’s development, unburdened by internal administrative tasks and competing responsibilities. This focus leads to efficient project management, faster decision-making, and quicker execution.

Student Experience

Collaborating with a learning solutions company to design and manage graduate degree programs significantly enhances student experience. These experts bring specialized knowledge in digital learning, technology integration, and online pedagogy, ensuring the program’s online components are engaging, effective, and user-friendly.

An external partner plays a critical role in optimizing the virtual classroom environment, as well as on-campus experiences. They work closely with faculty to develop interactive content, multimedia resources, and engaging activities that cater to various learning styles. Additionally, they oversee the integration of user-friendly learning management systems and technologies, making navigation and access to materials effortless for students.

Next Steps

In the dynamic landscape of education and work, hybrid accelerated programs emerge as a valuable response to the demands of today’s world. Seamlessly blending the flexibility of online learning with the potency of in-person interactions, these programs equip students with the skills they need to thrive in a rapidly evolving professional sphere.

This unique blend of agility and excellence positions HAPs as catalysts for success in a world that values adaptability and innovation. They empower students to engage with their studies while accommodating their commitments, thus cultivating graduates who are not only well-prepared academically but also attuned to the demands of a diverse, hybridized, and ever-changing global landscape.

If you’re considering adopting an innovative program model in Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physician Assistant, or Speech-Language Pathology, we encourage you to contact us for a conversation!

6 Faculty Recruitment Challenges in Health Care Education

Faculty recruitment is the backbone of any educational institution, as the quality of its faculty directly impacts the institution’s academic standing and reputation. However, the process of attracting and hiring talented educators is no simple task. In this blog post, we will delve into the multifaceted challenges faced by universities and colleges during the faculty recruitment process.

1. Intense Competition for Top Talent

The competition for top talent among faculty members has become increasingly fierce. To understand the depth of this challenge, it’s essential to begin by examining the projected growth of employment in health care occupations.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), health care is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States, with employment expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations from 2022 to 2032. This substantial growth is fueled by several factors, including an aging population, advances in medical technology, and increased access to health care services.Faculty member standing confidently in a well-lit academic setting with a thought-provoking quote: “In tandem with the growing need for healthcare professionals, there is an escalating demand for dedicated educators with the right qualifications.”

As the demand for health care professionals rises, so too does the demand for qualified educators who can train the next generation of health care providers. To meet the demands of this burgeoning field, universities, and educational institutions have embarked on a mission to expand and develop health care education programs.

Consequently, universities have introduced new programs and expanded existing ones, ranging from nursing and medicine to physical and occupational therapy doctorates. This surge in program expansion has led to a highly competitive environment for faculty recruitment.

The Consequences of Intense Competition

Competing institutions are vying for a limited pool of qualified health care educators, including experienced clinicians, researchers, and educators. The intense competition for top talent in health care education has several significant consequences:

  • The quality of education and training provided to health care students is directly influenced by the expertise and experience of the faculty.
  • The competition for top talent can impact an institution’s ability to attract researchers who drive advancements in health care knowledge and practice.
  • To attract and retain top talent, institutions may need to offer competitive compensation packages, which strain budgets and resources.

These consequences have an outsized impact on smaller or less-known institutions that must grapple with this competition to secure exceptional faculty members, who may prefer to join universities with greater recognition and resources.

2. Limited Budgets and Resources

One of the most persistent and daunting challenges in health care education is the limitation of budgets and resources. As universities and institutions strive to meet the growing demand for health care professionals, they often find themselves navigating a complex financial landscape.

A significant contributor to the strain on budgets is the escalating cost of health care education itself. Graduate schools have reported increases in the cost of education, driven by the following factors:

  • Attracting and retaining experienced faculty members, who often have lucrative opportunities in clinical practice, can be financially challenging.
  • Health care education relies heavily on state-of-the-art infrastructure and technology, including simulation labs, electronic health records, and medical equipment.

Investing in and maintaining talent and resources can strain budgets, particularly for smaller institutions.

The Consequences of Limited Budgets

Limited budgets and resources not only hinder program expansion but can also compromise the quality of health care education. Institutions may struggle to update curricula, invest in innovative teaching methods, or expand program offerings to meet the demands of the evolving health care landscape.

This financial constraint can hinder students’ access to cutting-edge education and impede the development of a highly skilled health care workforce.

3. Shortage of Specialized Experts

Deepening the challenge of faculty recruitment is the shortage of specialized experts. These experts are vital for imparting specialized knowledge and skills to students in various health care disciplines. However, the demand for their expertise often outstrips the available supply.

Health care is an expansive and multifaceted field, encompassing areas such as nursing, medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, public health, and many others. Each of these disciplines requires educators with specialized knowledge and experience in their respective domains. As health care education diversifies, the need for specialized experts becomes increasingly pronounced.

In addition, advances in medical and health care sciences have led to the emergence of numerous subspecialties, such as genetics counseling, telemedicine, and health informatics. These emerging fields demand educators who not only have deep expertise but are also up to date with the latest developments.

The Consequences of a Shortage

The shortage of specialized experts in health care education has several significant consequences:

  • Institutions may be limited in their ability to offer comprehensive and up-to-date curricula in specialized areas. This limitation can affect the quality and relevance of education provided to students.
  • Existing faculty members may be burdened with teaching subjects outside their expertise, which can impact the quality of instruction. It can also lead to burnout among faculty members.
  • Students may not have access to mentors and educators who can guide them in their chosen specialties, potentially hindering their career development and preparedness for real-world health care practice.

4. Faculty Retention and Turnover

In health care education, faculty turnover presents a significant challenge that institutions must grapple with regularly. Faculty members are the backbone of any educational program, and their stability within an institution is crucial for maintaining educational quality and consistency.

Faculty turnover in health care education, like in other academic fields, can be attributed to a variety of factors, including the following:

  • The intense competition for health care faculty talent (as discussed in Challenge 1) creates a high-demand environment. The shortage of specialized experts and the competitive landscape mean that retaining faculty members becomes increasingly challenging.
  • Health care faculty often carry heavy workloads, balancing teaching, clinical practice, research, and administrative responsibilities. The stress and burnout resulting from these demands can lead to faculty turnover.
  • The tenure and promotion process in academia can be demanding, and the pressure to publish and obtain research funding can add to faculty stress. This pressure can lead to turnover if faculty members perceive limited support for their career advancement.

Consequences of Faculty Turnover

Faculty turnover in health care education can have significant consequences that affect institutions, students, and the quality of education and research.

  • Frequent faculty turnover can disrupt the continuity of teaching, potentially affecting the quality and consistency of education.
  • Departing faculty members take with them valuable institutional knowledge and expertise, making it challenging for their replacements to fill the void.
  • The process of recruiting, onboarding, and training new faculty members can be costly for institutions.

5. Geographical Constraints

Geographic constraints pose a significant challenge in health care education, particularly when it comes to recruiting and retaining faculty members. These constraints can arise from a variety of factors and can impact an institution’s ability to attract the best talent.

Many factors come into play when employment is tied to a specific geographic location. Among them include:

  • Many health care institutions, especially academic medical centers and teaching hospitals are in specific geographic regions. These locations are often far from urban centers or in regions with limited access to amenities, which can deter potential faculty recruits who prioritize urban living or proximity to family and support networks.
  • Health care professionals, including educators, are often required to obtain state-specific licenses and certifications to practice or teach. This can create challenges when recruiting faculty members from other states or regions, as they may need to navigate complex licensure processes.

Consequences of Geographic Constraints

Geographic constraints can limit the pool of potential faculty recruits, making it challenging to find individuals with the right expertise and qualifications.

  • Institutions in geographically constrained areas often face increased competition for a limited pool of candidates. This can lead to bidding wars for top talent, driving up compensation costs.
  • Faculty members who relocate to less populous or remote areas may experience isolation, which can affect their job satisfaction and retention.

6. Time-Consuming Recruitment Process

In health care education, the recruitment of faculty members can be a time-consuming endeavor fraught with challenges. The process of identifying, attracting, and hiring qualified educators often demands significant resources and patience.

The recruitment process for faculty members in health care education can be time-consuming due to several contributing factors:

  • Faculty positions in health care education require candidates with specialized qualifications, including advanced degrees, clinical expertise, and teaching experience. Identifying individuals who meet these complex criteria can be time intensive.
  • The formation of search committees, the review of numerous applications, and the evaluation of candidates’ suitability require careful consideration and thoroughness. This process can extend the time it takes to select.
  • The competitive nature of faculty recruitment in health care education means that candidates often have multiple options and may take time to consider offers, negotiate terms, or explore other opportunities.

Implications of a Lengthy Recruitment Process

A prolonged recruitment process can have several significant implications:

  • Vacant faculty positions can delay the development and expansion of health care education programs, limiting the institution’s ability to meet the growing demand for health care professionals.
  • During faculty shortages, existing faculty members may be required to take on additional teaching and administrative responsibilities, leading to increased workload and potential burnout.
  • An extended recruitment process can affect program quality as students may experience disruptions in their education, leading to gaps in knowledge and skills development.

Solutions to Faculty Recruitment Challenges

In navigating the multifaceted challenges of faculty recruitment in health care education, it is imperative for institutions to proactively take steps to ensure the quality and sustainability of their programs. While each challenge poses its unique hurdles, there are overarching strategies that can lead the way forward.

  • Institutions should explore flexible work arrangements, invest in technology-enabled learning, and adapt to the evolving needs of both faculty and students. Embracing innovative practices can not only streamline recruitment but also enhance the overall educational experience.
  • Faculty recruitment and retention should not be viewed solely as administrative tasks but rather as strategic investments. Offering competitive compensation, robust professional development opportunities and comprehensive support for faculty can go a long way in attracting and retaining top talent.
  • As institutions face geographic constraints and the need for specialized expertise, fostering partnerships becomes essential. Collaborations with other universities, health care institutions, and educational service providers can help bridge gaps in faculty recruitment.

Evidence In Motion was founded by academics in the health care education space to expand evidence-based practice and increase health care access in communities around the country. We innovated the way health care education is delivered through highly successful hybrid, accelerated graduate programs.

Connect with us today to learn more about how hybrid accelerated education can support graduate growth plans at your institution.­ We’re true partners through the lifetime and evolution of the program with a full suite of solutions, including faculty recruitment and development.

P3s Are on the Rise in Higher Education. Here’s Why.

A survey conducted by The Chronicle of Higher Education & P3•EDU reveals a significant uptick in the prevalence of public-private partnerships (P3s) on college and university campuses, with 75% of surveyed Presidents/Chancellors, Provosts, and CFOs noting a noticeable increase in such collaborations.

Citing unique competencies/superior service to in-house alternatives (74%), and speed of execution/speed to market (50%), higher education leaders view private sector partners as key resources in creating better, more competitive student experiences.

These findings were at the forefront of discussions during the Innovation and Public-Private Partnership in Higher Education event held at University of Colorado, Denver Sept 27 – 29. P3•EDU, an exclusive gathering for higher education leaders and other stakeholders from government, associations, foundations, and corporations, provided a platform to delve into these trends and exchange best practices in the realm of P3s within higher education.

Image of P3•EDU conference panel with quote that says, "Partnerships are a valuable tool to improve outcomes and accelerate projects."

A History of P3s in Higher Education

P3s in higher education are formal arrangements between public and private sector entities that work together to achieve shared goals. These partnerships can take many forms, from relatively simple contracts for specific services to complex joint ventures that involve shared ownership and management of assets.

P3s have been used in higher education for many years, but their popularity has grown significantly in recent decades. This is due to several factors, including rising costs, declining public funding, and increasing competition from private sector providers.

The earliest examples of P3s in higher education were typically focused on the provision of auxiliary services, such as student housing, dining, and parking. For example, in the mid-20th century, the P3 development model originated as a structured business partnership between educational institutions and private developers/operators.

In the initial stages, the college or university would usually contribute the land, while the developer/operator took charge of designing, constructing, financing, owning, and/or managing the asset.

Current Trends

P3s have emerged as catalysts for transformative change, addressing various facets of the educational ecosystem, from student success and health to innovative approaches in technology adoption and funding models.

These partnerships can offer several benefits for both universities and the private sector. For universities, P3s help to reduce costs, access private sector expertise and resources, share risk, and accelerate projects. For the private sector, P3s offer the opportunity to generate revenue, invest in long-term assets, and gain access to public sector markets.

Envisioning the Future of P3s

As a key partner to universities in health care education, Evidence In Motion (EIM) actively participated in P3•EDU. Represented by CEO Pradeep Khandelwal, COO Mallory Schindler, and EIM Co-founder John Childs, the event provided an opportunity for EIM to engage with the latest developments in the space, share insights, and contribute to the ongoing discourse about the future of higher education.

Image of P3•EDU conference session with quote that says, "Higher education is transforming, and P3s play a vital role, from student success and health to innovative approaches in technology adoption and funding models."

Two Key Takeaways From P3•Edu 2023:

1. Technological Changes 

One of the prominent discussions at P3•EDU revolved around the transformative potential of Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the realm of education. The application of Generative AI holds promise in enhancing individual productivity while simultaneously reducing technology expenses.

Institutions are exploring its use in diverse areas such as project management, tutoring (particularly in writing), and the assessment and analysis of research papers and grant contracts. This innovative application of AI signals a paradigm shift in how technology can be leveraged to augment the educational experience.

2. Cost of Education

A noteworthy revelation at the event was the changing landscape of funding in education. Traditionally, students bore the brunt of educational costs, but the tide is turning. Employers are increasingly taking on a more significant role in funding education and training.

Initiatives such as tuition reimbursement, education as a benefit, and degree and non-degree apprenticeships are becoming prevalent. This shift not only alleviates the financial burden on students but also strengthens the connection between education and the workforce, ensuring alignment with industry needs. 

The Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, James Kvall, a key speaker at P3•EDU, discussed present initiatives aimed at reducing student debt. One notable initiative is the push for free community college, an effort to make higher education more accessible and affordable.

Final Thoughts

Amidst these positive strides, a significant concern echoed throughout the event is the impending decline in the number of college-aged students in the United States—known as the 2025 enrollment cliff. This foreboding challenge underscores the urgency for collaborative and innovative solutions to sustain and grow enrollment rates.

As we reflect on P3•EDU 2023, it is evident that the future of higher education is undergoing a transformative shift. P3s are instrumental in the context of this change, addressing critical issues, and fostering collaborative solutions. EIM’s participation in the event reinforces its commitment to being at the forefront of these conversations, contributing insights, and actively engaging in shaping the future of education.

Navigating the horizon of higher education will require collaboration, technology integration, and a reevaluation of funding models to create an educational landscape that is responsive to the evolving needs of students, institutions, and the workforce.

Connect with us today to learn more about how EIM’s innovative methods can support graduate growth plans at your institution.

Navigating Regulatory Changes for Higher Education

A recently finalized federal regulation mandates that students entering academic programs burdening graduates with unmanageable debt must now acknowledge a disclosure notice. Starting in 2026, the objective of the new financial value transparency and gainful employment rules is to supply families with enhanced details regarding the expenses and potential risks linked to such programs.

Any graduate and certificate programs deemed “at-risk” will be subject to the new transparency rules. However, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has reserved the toughest regulations for for-profit training programs, which risk losing access to federal financial aid if standards are not met.

In this article, let’s look at the history of gainful employment rules, what the new regulations mean for graduate health care programs, and how universities can prepare for a climate of increased scrutiny.

The History of Gainful Employment Regulations

ED introduced gainful employment regulations during the Obama administration in 2011. The primary aim was to hold career-training programs accountable for adequately preparing students for gainful employment in recognized occupations without burdening them with unsustainable debt.

These regulations emerged in response to concerns about programs, especially at for-profit institutions, that produced graduates with high levels of student loan debt relative to their post-graduation earnings. Gainful employment regulations stipulated that these educational programs risked losing their federal student aid funds if their graduates had loan payments that exceeded a specific percentage of their discretionary or annual incomes.

Over the years, the implementation of the gainful employment regulations faced several legal and political challenges, leading to delays and modifications. The rules and their enforcement evolved throughout the Obama administration. Later, under the Trump administration, there were efforts to roll back or rescind the gainful employment regulations, and by 2019, ED announced its intention to repeal them entirely.

One of the objectives of the gainful employment regulations was to increase transparency. Even for programs not directly impacted by the potential loss of federal student aid, ED pushed for increased transparency regarding program costs, graduation rates, median debt levels, and employment outcomes.

The New Gainful Employment Regulations

Under the new regulations, programs at both for-profit institutions and non-degree programs across sectors must demonstrate that graduates can manage yearly debt payments and surpass the earnings of non-college-educated adults in their respective states. Failing either criterion for two consecutive years could result in the program losing access to federal financial aid.

The transparency measures require students enrolled in programs leaving graduates with unmanageable debt to sign a disclosure notice. This will be applicable to graduate and certificate programs in any sector, including nonprofit and public institutions. However, these measures do not impact financial aid eligibility and are reserved for “at-risk” programs. ED estimates that approximately 400 graduate programs, with an enrollment of around 120,000 students, will be subject to the new disclosure requirement.

One of the contentious aspects of the new gainful employment regulation, according to its critics, is that the debt-to-earnings ratio test omits degree programs at public and private non-profit institutions, failing to protect the vast majority of students in the United States. Furthermore, several higher education groups are pushing back on the new transparency rules, arguing that the focus on economic outcomes for students fails to accurately measure the value of college programs.

Considering the Future: Implications for Universities

The ongoing debate about the equitable application and effectiveness of these regulations across diverse sectors continues to spark controversy. Nevertheless, universities find themselves navigating a landscape where government mandates and market dynamics converge, compelling institutional leaders to prioritize the calculation of return on investment (ROI).

Graduate health care education expenses exhibit considerable variation influenced by factors such as institution type (public vs. private), residency status (in-state vs. out-of-state), and institutional brand. Costs, encompassing tuition, fees, books, and living expenses, can surpass $120,000 for the entirety of the program in certain instances.

However, there’s reason to be optimistic that high expenses can be mitigated through innovative value-driven program design. Graduate health care programs like those offered by EIM partners demonstrate a favorable ROI because of the high employment demand in the professions, and their robust earning potential. These programs also benefit from hybrid accelerated formats, which allow students to learn from anywhere and expedite their entry into the workforce compared to traditional programs.

For example, the hybrid accelerated Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program offered by EIM partners spans two years, a year shorter than most counterparts. Because of this, students graduate earlier, avoiding tuition payments in the third year while concurrently earning income.

This accelerated pathway significantly enhances the ROI, with graduates from EIM-supported programs accumulating an additional $150,000-200,000 in lifetime earnings over the initial 15 years of their careers due to reduced student debt resulting from an accelerated entrance into the workforce.

Final Thoughts

As universities brace for the impact of new federal regulations on academic programs, it becomes clear that investing in programs that deliver ROI is as critical as shaping a fair regulatory environment in higher education.

One strategy to overcome challenges and add high-value programs can be a partnership with an external organization that helps supplement the substantial resources needed to stand up successful graduate health care programs and offer consultative services for areas like faculty recruitment, clinical education placement, accreditation, curriculum, instructional design, student recruitment, admissions, and much more!

Connect with us today to learn more about how hybrid accelerated education can support graduate growth plans at your institution.