Universities at Shady Grove grows with Montgomery County’s needs -- Gazette.Net


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The Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville is bringing in a program this fall that leaders say will help educate the county work force to match the opportunities available.

After watching the growth of the health care industry, and talking with students and local businesses, the campus will offer the University of Baltimore’s Master of Science in health systems management program, said John Callahan, program director for the University of Baltimore’s health systems management program.

The campus, near Shady Grove and Darnestown roads in Rockville, pulls in programs from nine universities in Maryland, so that residents can study locally.

About 64,000 people work in the education and health services industry in Montgomery County — the second largest industry in the county, according to 2011 state employment estimates.

Providers such as Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Adventist Healthcare and Holy Cross Hospital together employ nearly 20,000 workers in the county, according to county data from April 2012.

Both students and employers needed access to a local program for health systems studies, Callahan said.

“Given the concentration of health management [opportunities] in Montgomery County, with its health care facilities and government offices, we are increasingly finding that this is a market for our students,” Callahan said.

In one year, from third quarter 2010 to third quarter 2011, general medical and surgical hospitals in Montgomery County added 800 jobs.

Employers in Montgomery County advertised in July more openings in health care — about 787 — than they did in any other field besides professional, scientific and technical services, according to state labor data.

Stewart Edelstein, executive director at USG and associate vice chancellor of the University System of Maryland, said the campus grows as certain industries, such as health care and bioscience, grow in the county.

Masters programs, especially, are increasingly needed, he said.

In the last five years, the number of students enrolled in graduate programs at the campus has more than doubled, from 700 students to 1,500 students, said Joe Bucci, USG director of marketing and communications.

USG works with businesses through a board of advisers to identify the programs needed.

Dennis Hansen, president of Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, located near USG in Rockville, is on the board of advisers.

Advanced nursing supervisors, clinical nurse specialists and nursing directors at the hospital provide mentoring and shadowing opportunities for USG masters students.

“The business partnership that we have with USG is a critical part of creating the better work-ready environment with students,” he said.

The hospital has about 2,000 employees and is committed to higher education opportunities for them, Hansen said.

By providing the masters programs in Rockville rather than Baltimore or on the universties’ main campuses, USG allows students to continue their education close to home, Edelstein said.

USG student Liz Ducey, 24, said “it is golden” that she can be enrolled in a masters program from University of Maryland, Baltimore County, when she lives in Rockville and works full time at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.

Ducey is taking geographic information systems courses on the Rockville campus.

She said the extra education pushes her ahead of others that obtained a bachelor’s in biology like she did.

“It can give me the competitive edge,” she said.

When USG adds a program, the program grows. In 2008, the campus doubled its nursing program because of demand.

About 10 to 15 masters students will take the program the upcoming fall semester, Callahan said.

Callahan expects the masters program to grow at USG, just as others have.

The classes will be offered on Saturdays, so they do not conflict with full-time jobs, he said.

Most of the students already will be employed with a local health care provider, but want to add health systems management education to move up in the ranks, he said.

The health systems management degree would allow someone with a clinical background, such as a nurse, to move into more of a managerial role in a hospital, Callahan said.

“They start to get the clinical experience and they realize they want to go beyond,” he said.

jbondeson@gazette.net