The year long reorganization of the various colleges at the University of West Florida has concluded with the announcement of the new College of Health. "To watch a team come together is about the most rewarding thing that I do" said Dr. Martha Saunders, Provost and Executive Vice president of the University of West Florida. She was speaking earlier this year about the reorganization of the colleges at UWF. The final step of that reorganization was announced last week with the formation of the College of Health. Saunders said "the new deans are working together and supporting each other and very much supporting the colleges. And I think we're really seeing some very positive results of the reorganization."
The latest addition to that group of deans is familiar name around the campus. Dr. Ermalynn Kiehl has been named the dean of the College of Health. Dr Kiehl had been associate dean for the College of Science, Engineering and Health, as well as chair and associate professor in the Department of Nursing. But now that college has been split up, with Science and Engineering continuing under the leadership of Dr. Michael Huggins. The new College of Health unites the 10 UWF health related programs under one umbrella. Dr. Kiehl said "they had been kind of sprinkled out across the colleges. So now trhere are ten programs that are health related all underneath the College of Health."
Dr. Kiehl belives that having those disciplines together goes a long way towards teaching how the health care system has to work. As a nurse, she understands the need for cooperation. "One of the things that nursing is doing across the country is somewhat leading the charge in inter professional education and inter professional collaboration. There are trends and there are fads. Fads come and go and trends go on. Inter professional activities in health is really a trend. To be able to improve the health of people we can't be 'working in silos'. Our health units need to be able to work in teams."
As well as Nursing, the UWF College of Health will include athletic training, clinical laboratory sciences, exercise science, health promotion, health science, physical education, physical therapy, psychology and public health. The College of Health will also coordinate UWF’s doctoral partnerships with the University of Florida in nursing practice and with the University of South Florida in physical therapy. Dr. Kiehl says the physical therapy partnership is a unique program. "Rather than start from scratch, UWF partnered with University of South Florida. And in that program students start out here and take courses. They then go down to University of South Florida for a year and take courses. And then they come back and finish the last two years here." Dr.Kiehl says a state of the art classroom allows students to take courses from instructors located at USF while still at UWF in real time.
Dr. Kiehl says a degree from the College of Health makes a graduate immediately employable. "Some of them employable in very broad ways. For instance some people go into acute care in hospitals. Some people go out and work in the community. Some people work in clinics or offices."
Looking ahead, Dr. Kiehl says there are already some programs the college is looking into adding in the future. "We're exploring advanced practices in areas of physicians assistant and, perhaps, nurse practitioner. We certainly are very heavily exploring those areas. We would expect the first thing would be the PA and how it is that we would do that, but that will certainly be in the future."
Dr. Ermalynn Kiehl, the Dean of the new College of Health at the University of West Florida also says if she had one item to put on a wish list for the future, it would be a stand-alone building on the UWF campus dedicated to health.