College’s Faculty Never Stop Learning, Study for Advanced Degrees

By Ben Boulden

About 20 professors and instructors out of 81 in the college are pursuing advanced degrees in postgraduate programs or have recently completed them — degrees that will not only further their career goals but help them adapt to as well as shape the futures of their fields.

“Our faculty receive strong support from their academic colleagues and encouragement from their students,” Dean Long, Ed.D., said. “As science expands our knowledge, and even as we adopt and perfect new teaching methods, educators themselves need to engage in lifelong learning so they and our more traditional students learn from the most up-to-date curriculum as well as acquire the most relevant skills.”

An instructor in the Department of Dental Hygiene, Bridget Fitzhugh is a graduate of the department and has completed most of her course work at University of Missouri – Kansas City for a master of science degree in dental hygiene education.

She said she hopes her postgraduate study demonstrates her “professionalism and being a lifelong learner. That is what it is going to take to advance the profession of dental hygiene. That is one of my ultimate goals.”

Although Fitzhugh doesn’t yet have the degree in hand, already the extra study has positively influenced her own teaching.

Understanding the content in textbooks and what is written about dental hygiene remains important. Fitzhugh however now brings in patient case studies to show how hygienists can apply textbook knowledge in the clinic.

Cherika Robertson, M.Ed., an assistant professor and assistant program director of the on-campus Medical Laboratory Sciences Program in the Department of Laboratory Sciences, is also pursuing an advanced degree.

“Once I have completed the program, I hope I can be a role model for the students in the laboratory profession,” she said. “That sort of degree isn’t required in the lab, but I hope the degree will set me up to serve as a leader as a national laboratory professional.”

Robertson soon will begin her third semester of work toward a Ph.D. in Health Sciences with an emphasis on health professions education through the Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in Provo, Utah.

In addition to serving as a role model for students in the department, Robertson hopes to be able to use what she learns about health professions education to work more with the diverse array of programs and other departments in the college. Once her degree is in hand, probably sometime in late 2024 or early 2025, she would like to work more in program and department administration.

With the further goal of improving her research, data collection and analysis skills along with reviewing scholarly articles, her spring semester this year has been focused on learning more about statistical analysis and research design.

“Even if the degree doesn’t offer any advancement opportunities,” Robertson said. “I will have achieved a personal goal. I am grateful for the chance and look forward to completing the program.”

Megan Lane has a bachelor’s degree in imaging sciences as well as a master’s degree in Healthcare Administration. Now, she’s a student once again, this time at the University of Central Arkansas where she is seeking a Ph.D. in Change Leadership for Equity and Inclusion with an emphasis in Digital Age Curriculum and Instruction.

Already, she is in the early stages of defining a thesis statement for a doctoral research project and dissertation. Lane wants to research generational changes in students and how faculty in the higher education systems are adapting to the needs of current students in allied health profession programs, even since she completed her bachelor’s degree 10 years ago.

Those shifts and the new demands of incoming students will require higher education systems to adapt and meet the needs of those enrolled, contributing to more positive student outcomes. What Lane has learned already at UCA has broadened her perspective while understanding the viewpoints of students and their communities of origin.

“I come from Greenwood, Arkansas, which is a predominantly white community,” Lane said. “I come from a blinded spot of not recognizing what some of the racial and social injustices are. That’s what drew me to the program. Also, UAMS is putting more emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion in our degree programs, making our students more aware of those issues.”

Fitzhugh, Robertson and Lane have completed most of their classes online, although Robertson’s will require some on-campus study in Provo.

Balancing teaching at UAMS with their advanced studies and the restrictions resulting from the pandemic has been challenging, but each of them enjoys strong support from the college and their families, too.

Fitzhugh has one credit hour left to complete before entering the final phase of her postgraduate degree program. Asked what she would tell herself if she could travel back in time, Fitzhugh smiled and said, “I would say have patience. You will survive.”

CHP Faculty & Staff Working Toward Advanced Degrees (Spring, 2022)

Department or program, name, recently received (*) degree or one being pursued.

Audiology and Speech Pathology

Portia Carr, Ph.D. in communication sciences and disorders from UAMS*

Dental Hygiene

  • Bridget Fitzhugh, master’s degree in dental hygiene education at University of Missouri – Kansas City.
  • Brittany Rose, master’s degree in education, learning systems technology at University of Arkansas – Little Rock.

Diagnostic Medical Sonography

  • Megan Lane, Ph.D. in Change Leadership for Equity and Inclusion at University of Central Arkansas.

Laboratory Sciences

  • Shayla Stinnett, master’s degree in education at University of Louisiana Monroe.
  • Lindsey Clark, Ed.D. in education at University of Louisiana Monroe.
  • Cherika Robertson, Ph.D. in health sciences at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions.
  • Courtney Anderson, master’s degree in molecular biology at University of Florida
  • Shaneika Chambers, master’s degree in business administration at Louisiana State University – Shreveport

Nuclear Medicine Imaging Sciences

  • Summer Khairi, Ph.D. in leadership studies at University of Central Arkansas

Physician Assistant

  • Amber Teigen, doctor of medical sciences (DMSc) with a concentration in health professions education from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions.
  • Lachan Siebenmorgen, Ph.D. in health promotion and prevention research at the UAMS Graduate School.
  • Edward Williams, a doctor of medical sciences (DMSc.) at the University of Lynchburg in Virginia.*

Respiratory Care

  • Tom Jones, Ed.D. in organizational leadership at Southeastern University in Florida

Radiologic Imaging Sciences

  • Lisa Rhoden, Ed.D. in education at University of Louisiana Monroe
  • Tessa Ramsey, master’s degree in education, learning systems technology at University of Arkansas – Little Rock.