People are living longer. Yet, at the same time, some diseases have reached epidemic status. The demand for nurses, pharmacists, and so many health care professionals continues to rise. Riddles of the cellular mechanisms underlying certain health conditions remain unsolved. Rural communities still lack an adequate number of physicians and nurse practitioners. Tennessee’s overall health status slowly improves, but much more work is still to be done. An alarming number of men and women are living with no health insurance. Prevention programs such as those targeting smoking, obesity, drugs and alcohol, violence, and teen pregnancy are a must in order for children and adolescents to adopt healthy behaviors at an early age, before it is too late.
And that is just a glimpse of the challenges and the opportunities.
Addressing these ongoing health concerns – and those of the future – is a complex process, but it begins with having in place a competent, highly skilled health care workforce. East Tennessee State University is the flagship health sciences institution for the Tennessee Board of Regents. The university’s Division of Health Sciences is the largest major academic health sciences center within hundreds of miles surrounding the Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia region. The division encompasses five colleges: the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences, the James H. Quillen College of Medicine, College of Nursing, Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy, and the College of Public Health. We offer more than 25 programs of study at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels as well as accredited residency training programs in seven fields of medicine.
A core component of our mission is to enhance the health care infrastructure of rural communities. Certainly, this means educating more physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, physical therapists, public and environmental health specialists, audiologists, speech-language pathologists, respiratory therapists, and radiology technicians for the rural health care workforce, but our commitment goes much farther. Our faculty and students are conducting research to better understand health issues specific to rural areas, and we are forming partnerships with local residents in many outlying counties and working with them to identify and to address health concerns within their own communities.
Efforts to improve rural health care have earned East Tennessee State University considerable recognition at the national level. The Quillen College of Medicine consistently ranks among the nation’s best for rural medicine education by U.S.News & World Report. In 2008, U.S.News ranked the Quillen College fourth in the nation for rural medicine and 12th for family medicine. In addition, ETSU was ranked 31st for audiology, 141st for the family nurse practitioner program, and 146th for speech-language pathology. In 2007, the National Rural Health Association honored ETSU with the “Program of the Year” award in recognition of our Community Partnerships for Health Professions Education Program.
Working as an interdisciplinary team, the ETSU Division of Health Sciences has revolutionized health care in our region. The presence of this academic health science center means that ETSU faculty, staff, and students can empower people to make healthy behavior changes that will result in many more years of healthy living. Through basic, clinical, and translational research, diseases can be prevented, treated, and cured, and new knowledge is acquired. Access to health services can be improved. Lives are changed. Greater lives are being saved.
I invite you to learn more about the ETSU Division of Health Sciences, whether you are a prospective student, a future member of the faculty and staff, or you want to learn more about the university’s patient care services. We welcome you to take a look at our offerings and to ask questions.
Dr. Wilsie S. Bishop
Vice President for Health Affairs and
University Chief Operating Officer
East Tennessee State University