The College of Health Professions is a recognized leader in distance education, both within the VCU community and nationally. We have offered distance learning programs for the past twenty years. Our offerings are primarily blended learning programs. Full programs are available in eight of our nine departments; all departments have courses that are available to distance learners.
The College uses primarily asynchronous distance education but some programs and courses make extensive use of synchronous education. All of our instructors are adept at the use of the Blackboard course management system and Blackboard learning tools. For many of the courses in both synchronous and asynchronous programs, on-campus presentations by faculty are course-casted and recorded and archived for student review and study on their computer or mobile learning device (e.g., iTouch or iPad) at any time.
The program is designed as a distance enhanced, blended-learning program with the cooperation and commitment of the nine departments of the College: Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Gerontology, Health Administration, Nurse Anesthesia, Occupational Therapy, Patient Counseling, Physical Therapy, Radiation Sciences, and Rehabilitation Counseling. Structured as a four-year course of study, it is intended to meet the critical need for doctorally prepared allied health professionals across the nation in the areas of teaching, research and administration. The program utilizes a combination of on-campus and online instruction. On-campus sessions feature lectures, seminars, class discussions, and in-person mentoring. Online instruction is primarily asynchronous, providing students with flexibility in course access and participation.
The Bachelor of Science in Clinical Laboratory Science and Master of Science in Clinical Laboratory Science
Medical Laboratory Technicians and Clinical Laboratory Technicians may complete all didactic coursework using distance-based learning technologies. The online courses eliminate the need for the students to relocate and allow them to continue to work as they complete the program. This option is restricted to MLTs/CLTs who are awarded proficiency credits for the laboratory sections of all the junior (300) level CLS courses through exemptions or challenge examinations.
The Masters of Science in Gerontology and the Graduate Certificate in Aging Studies and several Joint Certificates in Aging Studies with Schools and Departments across the University
All these programs are offered to students with the option of completing any of the programs through face-to-face, on-campus sessions, entirely distance education with no on-campus requirement, or using a hybrid combination of both methods. Course of study is individually tailored with the student's Professional Identity Development in mind through one-on-one advising held during each semester.
The Masters of Science in Health Administration (accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)
The MSHA is designed as a blended-learning program. During on-campus sessions, students attend lectures, participate in seminars, and use the Department's learning laboratory, computer facilities and library. Students have ample opportunity to interact with fellow classmates, faculty, and visiting scholars and practitioners. Organized class sessions are typically held during the day and are designed to facilitate effective and efficient learning. Evenings are reserved for study, group project work, informal interaction with fellow students, and social events. During each off-campus semester, students continue course work at their home/work site using a carefully planned array of distance learning technologies. The Program uses the internet as the primary mode of communication during off-campus periods. This technology allows students and faculty to communicate with one another asynchronously through personal computers equipped with Internet access.
Each course has its own separate "electronic classroom" which serves as the primary channel to conduct seminars and discuss assignments and projects. These electronic classrooms are also used to distribute announcements, hold meetings, and facilitate informal communication among faculty and students. With a full-time load of 3 courses, a minimum of 15 to 20 hours of work per week is necessary to complete off-campus seminars and course assignments.
The Masters of Science in Nurse Anesthesia and the Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (accredited by the Council on Accreditation)
The MSNA and the DNAP programs are offered on-campus at VCU, and through synchronous participation and course casting, on-campus in Abingdon and Roanoke, Virginia with plans to develop an off-campus site in Northern Virginia in the near future. In addition, the program includes asynchronous participation in a variety of learning activities and on-site clinical experience and simulation laboratory learning in both locations. A major component of the DNAP program includes PhD level courses using a blended learning method.
The Doctor of Occupational Therapy (accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association)
VCU's Online Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program combines distance and on-site education methods. The distance format is a part of all courses mediated through the Blackboard System. Compact on-campus components have been integrated into many courses to enable both didactic content and cohort formation. These on-campus sessions will occur approximately twice a year (August and January) for 2-3 days. Each session allows students to complete one semester of classes and begin the next semester in face to face format which is then accompanied by on-line sessions throughout the remainder each semester.
The Master of Science in Patient Counseling and the Certificate in Patient Counseling
This degree is offered on-campus at VCU and, through synchronous participation and course casting, on-site in Abingdon and in Martinsville, Virginia. The Master of Science requires 44 credit hours of study according to one of the established curricula. A 30-credit accelerated M.S. as well as a dual degree track M.S./M.Div. with the School of Theology at Virginia Union University and Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond are available.
The Department of Radiation Sciences
The Department of Radiation Sciences has some courses that are provided through distance education, but does not yet have a full program available through either distance or blended format.
The Masters of Rehabilitation Counseling
The distance-learning program is a flexible program involving two on-campus skill development courses, with the rest of the courses available online. To accommodate students living at a distance from the university, both of the skills development courses are offered in an intensive one-week format on campus. All of the other courses are offered online in an asynchronous (any time) format. You can choose the best time and place to interact with your course materials, classmates and instructors to fit your own schedule.
Course materials are provided in formats accessible to students with disabilities. Most courses include audio/video materials to demonstrate essential concepts; many utilize tutorials to help students engage interactively with the content. All courses rely extensively on group discussion to deepen understanding and demonstrate application of important concepts, using online "threaded discussions" through the Blackboard course interface. Discussion groups are kept relatively small, to allow for in-depth interaction between group members and the section instructor.