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

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 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.