Dr. Andrew Balas, dean of the Augusta University College of Allied Health Sciences, delivered his State of the College Address to a crowd of faculty, staff, university administrators and community members on Oct. 25. His presentation highlighted the many ways the college is delivering education and research for better health care.
Balas took the opportunity to recognize award-winning students, faculty and programs in the college. Their accomplishments have helped to strengthen the national reputation of allied health programs, six of which are nationally ranked. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of health care professionals is expected to grow by nearly 20 percent by 2024, adding more jobs than any other group of occupations. The College of Allied Health Sciences is prepared to educate students to help meet that demand.
Education and research go hand in hand, Balas stated.
“Innovation is essential for long-term academic success,” he said. “To become excellent, we absolutely need to meet the highest standards of quality education, innovative research and engagement with practice, simultaneously and synergistically.”
Not only have faculty and students in the College of Allied Health Sciences published several research articles this year, but they are also receiving grants for further research and turning research into practice. Currently, the college is home to 10 externally funded principal investigators with a combined grant support of several million dollars.
Examples of practice accomplishments include the new Functional Capacity Evaluation/Work Hardening Clinic, which began seeing patients in August, and the Clinic for Prosthetic Restoration, which received approval for Medicare reimbursement. In addition, patient volume in the Low Vision Clinic tripled over the last six months.
Balas announced that allied health students are putting their skills into practice.
“Our students have been more and more involved with community initiatives ranging from the multi-year experiences with the Costa Layman Health Fair, Asthma Camp, Camp Ivey, mission trip to Jamaica and, most recently, hurricane relief efforts,” he said. “We are proud of our students and the difference they make.”
Balas encouraged everyone to focus on creativity and innovation, collaboration and collegiality, sustainable growth, and community engagement. The college is looking forward to another productive, collegial, innovative, engaged and enjoyable academic year.