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New UE Program Offers Clinicians Opportunities for Career Advancement; First in the Region

Posted: Thursday, September 7, 2023

The University of Evansville (UE) has received approval from the Higher Learning Commission to launch a PhD in Health Professions Education. This terminal academic doctorate degree is a first for the University, with the goal of helping to ease the shortage of healthcare professionals nationwide.

The PhD in Health Professions Education will be an avenue to help clinicians develop the skills necessary to be effective educators who contribute to interdisciplinary research across the healthcare sector.

This program aims to benefit various health professions, including nursing, physical therapy, athletic training, occupational therapy, medical doctors, physician assistants, and more. With the shift in educational requirements from baccalaureates to advanced degrees, many academic healthcare programs need more qualified faculty members, compounded by the imminent retirement of many existing faculty.

The PhD program encompasses 44 credit hours and will be delivered in an online format with optional in-person meetings. This format ensures improved instructional quality, higher student retention rates, and enhanced satisfaction.

Designed with working professionals in mind, the curriculum allows students to complete all coursework within eight semesters (2 years), with the option of either in-person or remote access. Online classroom meetings are scheduled on weekends to provide flexibility and accommodate students' existing professional commitments.

UE is committed to meeting the evolving needs of healthcare professionals and the academic community. This program presents a unique opportunity for clinicians to expand their career prospects, contribute to the development of future healthcare practitioners, and elevate the quality of education in their respective fields.

"This is truly a pioneering program in the Tri-State region, and we believe this doctorate degree will play a pivotal role in addressing the shortage of healthcare professionals across disciplines while empowering clinicians to become effective educators and valuable contributors to research," said Bethany Huebner, PT, DPT, PhD, Associate Professor of Physical Therapy and PhD in Health Professions Education. "We remain dedicated to meeting the needs of healthcare professionals and the patients they serve."

The program received several letters of support from community leaders, including Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke and Deaconess Health System CEO Shawn McCoy.

"The Ph.D. in Health Professions Education will train future faculty members who can teach and mentor students in a variety of healthcare fields," said Lloyd Winnecke, '82, Mayor of Evansville. "This will ensure that we will have a strong pipeline of qualified healthcare professionals and can attract students into our region to receive an education and hopefully remain in our community once they have completed their degree."

"I commend the University of Evansville for its innovative solutions in addressing the healthcare workforce's significant challenges," said Shawn McCoy, Chief Executive Officer of Deaconess Health System. "The Ph.D. in Health Professions Education program particularly addresses faculty shortages in nursing, social work, physical and occupational therapy, and physician assistant science, among others. In addition, the program enables academic partners to increase class sizes and produce more healthcare professionals to serve the community."

To learn more about the PhD in Health Professions Education, please visit

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