On Tuesday, July 1, the College of Allied Health Sciences at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center officially changed its name to the College of Health Professions. Although the renaming was approved by the UT Board of Trustees during its Feb. 27 winter meeting, the change is timed to coincide with the start of Tennessee's 2015 fiscal year. Founded in 1972 as the College of Community and Allied Health, the unit's name was abridged to the College of Allied Health Sciences in 1985.
With fall enrollment expected to be approximately 585 students, the UTHSC College of Health Professions (COHP) now comprises six departments: Audiology and Speech Pathology, Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Health Informatics and Information Management, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Physician Assistant Studies. Depending on the program selected, students obtain training in the COHP at the bachelor's, master's or doctoral levels.
"The name change is in keeping with national trends and will bring the college into better alignment with the university and with our various areas of specialty," said Noma Anderson, PhD, dean of the college since 2010. "The term 'allied health' has been in use since the 1930s and was coined at a time when our disciplines were perceived as ancillary to health care. Today, allied health professionals, as a diverse group, account for more than half of the health care workforce in the United States. With salaries on the rise and an abundance of job opportunities, the need for highly educated, well-trained health professions specialists continues to grow."
Over the past several decades, the scope of practice, autonomy, and education of health professions team members have all evolved. As a result, the entry-level education requirements for most health care professions are at the graduate and post-baccalaureate level.
"Changing our name to the College of Health Professions presents a more accurate reflection of the vision and mission of our college as articulated by our faculty, students, staff and alumni," Dean Anderson said. On August 27, the college will host an event at its Memphis location for faculty, students, alumni, friends and staff to celebrate its renaming.
The COHP has some 8,500 alumni, many who work in clinical, administrative, educational and service roles throughout the state of Tennessee and around the world. With its administrative offices and most educational programs located on the UTHSC Memphis campus, the college also has a major presence in Knoxville where UTHSC is constructing a $20 million facility for the college's Audiology and Speech Pathology Department. The new building is expected to open in 2015.