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By Emily Greenhalgh
PBN Web Editor
SMITHFIELD – Bryant University has taken the first steps toward the health care space with a new physicians’ assistant program and has hired a program director, Vice President for Academic Affairs Jose-Marie Griffiths told Providence Business News.
The new program director, Robert Jay Amrien, will start his position on March 22 to help with the preparation of a feasibility study and accreditation materials. Amrien is an assistant professor at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
The physician’s assistant program is still in early stages and Bryant has applied to be in the process for accreditation, Griffiths said. The school is scheduled for an accreditation site visit in March 2014 and, if approved, the school anticipates the first class to start in January 2015.
While Griffiths said the school hopes to have 50 people in the 24-to-27 month graduate program once it’s up and running, the first class is expected to have about 25 students.
“Our strategic plan includes a move into the health care arena, and this would be one of our early offerings,” said Griffiths, adding that the school already has a specialized MBA for health professionals that it’s looking to upgrade as it moves more securely into the health care world.
Bryant’s decision to expand its focus toward health care stems from the national growth in the field, said Griffiths. “We think there’s a role we could play,” she said.
Other future programs could include health care management and administration as well as health policy. “Those are things that leverage what we’re good at at Bryant,” she said.
When asked if the programs would broaden the school’s enrollment base, Griffiths responded: “With health care, we’ll be attracting people who might otherwise not come here,” adding that she expected to see at least a small jump in enrollment as programs became popular.
The school also made an announcement at the undergraduate level. Bryant will launch its analytics initiative on Wednesday, March 20.
The initiative includes an analytics concentration at the undergraduate level that can be tied to any major, from social finance analytics to digital humanities.
A concentration, which is six courses, is slightly more in-depth than a “minor,” which typically requires four courses to declare.
Griffiths said that concentrations are “very rare” in the undergraduate world and that she thought this was “one of the first” at the undergraduate level that spans every major offered at a university.
On Wednesday, March 20, Bryant is hosting its first analytics symposium from 1 to 4:30 p.m. at Bello Grand Hall on its Smithfield campus. At the event the school is launching its Advanced Applied Analytics Center, a research and outreach center that will be a hub for the new undergraduate analytics concentration.