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New cross-disciplinary Ph.D. offered

Bridging gaps among disciplines and professions is the rationale behind the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) emphasis on inter-disciplinary approaches to health care, and it is the justification for the College of Health Professions’ (CHP) new cross-disciplinary, research-intensive Ph.D. in Health and Rehabilitation Science program.
The recently approved research doctorate, now accepting applications for the Fall 2009 semester, will train scientists to approach complex disorders and conditions from a cross-system perspective. Under the program direction of Bonnie Martin-Harris, Ph.D., Otolaryngology, the advanced degree in Health and Rehabilitation Science program differs from research conducted in other health care disciplines in its emphasis on function, factors, and interventions that disable or enable people. This emphasis on applied knowledge cuts across many disciplines, giving the program broad appeal to students and professionals with diverse backgrounds. Qualified applicants may enter the program with a bachelor or graduate degree in several health related areas such as physical therapy, speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, health administration, biology, and engineering, among others.
Also adding to the unique nature of the program, one of only 12 such rehabilitation-oriented doctorate programs in the nation, is a core curriculum modeled directly on Institute of Medicine guidelines for the delivery of health care. The Ph.D. in Health and Rehabilitation Science will offer concentrations in three of the four research classifications identified by the IOM: Pathology and Impairment, Functional Limitations, and Health Services.
The new doctoral program supports direct mentoring from established researchers in multiple disciplines across campus, in addition to collaboration with experts in the statewide centers of excellence and eventually with leading national and global researchers. Students will also have an opportunity to take core courses with students from the MUSC College of Graduate Studies, establishing early professional relationships and sharing a common language with those who will become bench scientists. These factors combined with the experience gained from writing protocols, submitting grant applications and conducting research will give graduates a competitive advantage in their search for funding.
Despite its obvious appeal to funding institutions, researchers and prospective students, perhaps the greatest influence of the program lies in its potential to address two critical needs here in South Carolina: the health needs of South Carolina residents with disabilities, or with chronic medical conditions that lead to disability; and the need of the state to become a national leader in rehabilitation sciences. Addressing the rehabilitation needs of our citizens begins to address the massive direct health care costs siphoned from our communities each year, as well as the indirect or unseen costs such as lost productivity and diminished quality of life. Addressing the need of our state to become a leader in rehabilitation sciences begins to address a change in culture, one in which we can meet the health care needs of our citizens, grow our economic potential, and begin turning potentials into reality.
For information on the Ph.D. in Health and Rehabilitation Science program, contact Martin-Harris at 792-7162.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.