The Health Sciences program at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences has introduced a new department: Integrated Health Sciences. The creation of the department, according to Marcia Firmani, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., MY (ASCP)CM, MB (ASCP)CM, interim chair of the Department of Integrated Health Sciences and director of the blended and graduate programs in medical laboratory sciences (MLS), came about through a reshuffling of programs to better suit students, faculty, and staff.
“Within Health Sciences, there have been three departments: one is physical therapy and health care sciences; one is physician assistant studies; and one is clinical research and leadership,” Firmani explained. “As new programs have been built or come into health sciences, they usually get put into the physical therapy and health care sciences department or clinical research and leadership.”
Programs such as MLS, which now offers two baccalaureate programs, five certificates, five graduate degrees, and several military-contract programs, began to expand over the past several years, and when GW started an initiative to build out the Virginia Science and Technology Campus (VSTC) in Ashburn, Virginia, an opportunity presented itself.
Now falling under the Integrated Health Sciences umbrella, the MLS programs, as well as the post-baccalaureate, pre-medicine program — designed to prepare college graduates without science degrees with the necessary pre-requisites and tools for medical school application — relocated to VSTC.
“We’re able to have dedicated staff at the VSTC to advise on these programs and have people doing outreach specifically for these VSTC programs,” said Firmani. “For everyone in the department, their home is at VSTC; we actually have office space we’re all going to be moving to. The benefit is, we now have that common ground … of expanding these existing programs and building new programs.”
In addition to the blended MLS Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences (B.S.H.S.) and the post-baccalaureate, pre-medicine programs, both of which are “face to face,” Firmani said, the new department also includes distance-learning opportunities — a fully online B.S.H.S. with a major in MLS for medical lab technicians, five certificate programs, five graduate programs, and the military-affiliated programs — and future educational possibilities.
“We’re in the process of developing several new dual-degree programs, and we are also developing a doctoral degree program, the doctorate in clinical laboratory sciences, out at VSTC,” Firmani said. “There are a lot of opportunities for growth, teamwork, and spearheading new endeavors, which is an exciting movement to be involved in.”