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M. D. Anderson Celebrates Inaugural Graduation

M. D. Anderson Celebrates Inaugural Graduation
Bachelor's Degrees to be Awarded July 27
M. D. Anderson News Release 07/19/01

For the first time in its 60-year history, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center will award bachelor’s degrees to 13 students who are graduating from one of five specialized allied health programs.

Commencement exercises will be held July 27 at 5:15 p.m. in M. D. Anderson's Hickey Auditorium.

Adorned in black caps and gowns and academic regalia, 13 students from across the state -- including Houston, Austin and Tyler  -- will be conferred as M. D. Anderson's inaugural class to graduate with bachelor degrees. In addition to those earning degrees, 26 other students will receive certificates of completion from the M. D. Anderson programs and all students will be eligible to take national certification exams in their areas of expertise.

Following legislation passed last June by the Texas Legislature, M. D. Anderson began offering bachelor of science degrees in cytogenetic technology, cytotechnology, medical dosimetry, medical technology and radiation therapy. All five programs are accredited by their respective national credentialing agencies, and all are vital to quality cancer care.

"Granting our first baccalaureate degrees is an important educational milestone in the institution's history," says Dr. John Mendelsohn, president of M. D. Anderson.  "In approving degree-granting status for M. D. Anderson, the Texas Legislature and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board affirmed our mission in education and recognized the excellence of our comprehensive training programs."  

According to Dr. Michael Ahearn, M. D. Anderson’s dean of allied health programs, the current national vacancy rates in the five specialty areas range from seven to 20 percent, creating a critical need for persons trained in these areas.

"Our graduates are heavily recruited, and there is strong competition to get into the programs," says Dr. Ahearn, who led the effort to gain degree-granting status. "We generally receive four applications for every one of the 45 positions we have open each year."

Students in the first class of the allied health degree programs completed 90 hours of specified prerequisites from an accredited college or university with a minimum grade point average of 2.5 overall and 2.5 in science courses. During three semesters at M. D. Anderson, students completed an additional 40-56 hours of course work in their selected professional discipline.

"M. D. Anderson's programs are unique," says Dr. Ahearn. "Most of the programs address clinical and specialty programs that are not widely duplicated in the United States. Students are trained at one of the leading cancer centers in the country, and learn from a renowned clinical and basic science faculty."

For example, the medical dosimetry program at M. D. Anderson is one of only five such approved academic training programs in the United States and produces 10 of the 18 medical dosimetry graduates annually in the country. The program teaches students to design treatment plans for patients in consultation with radiation oncologists and use the latest developments in computer technology, along with their scientific knowledge and critical-thinking skills, to devise the best plan for the patients' radiation therapy. 

Among students graduating with certificates are five students in Fort Worth who completed the program via a long-distance learning site at The University of Texas Southwestern Moncrief Cancer Center. Students in Fort Worth are participating in the radiation therapy and medical dosimetry programs. Starting this fall, M. D. Anderson will have additional affiliate distance-learning sites at Scott & White Cancer Center in Temple and The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

Education is a significant element in M. D. Anderson’s mission to eliminate cancer in addition to care, research and prevention. Since its creation in 1941, M. D. Anderson has trained more than 40,000 physicians, scientists, nurses and allied health professionals to address the challenges of cancer. Prior to obtaining degree-granting status, graduates of the allied health specialty training programs at the cancer center were awarded certificates of completion. This tradition dates as far back as 1949, when certificates in histotechnology were first granted.

About M. D. Anderson's Bachelor Degree Programs

The Cytogenetic Technology program teaches students the structure of chromosomes and their application to the diagnosis and monitoring of acquired and inherited abnormalities. The six-month program trains individuals who are medical technologists or board eligible medical technologists to become cytogenetic technologists.

The Cytotechnology program is designed to prepare students for a challenging and exciting career as cytotechnologists. Students work in classrooms and laboratories learning how to properly prepare and analyze specimens using a microscope to detect and diagnose cancer and precancerous lesions.

Medical Dosimetry students learn to design treatment plans for patients in consultation with radiation oncologists. They use the latest developments in computer technology, along with their scientific knowledge and critical-thinking skills, to devise the best plan for the patients' radiation therapy treatments.

The Medical Technology program prepares students for a challenging career as medical technologists, or clinical laboratory scientists, who use their knowledge and technical skills to conduct diagnostic laboratory testing to produce high quality test results.

The Radiation Therapy program trains radiation therapists, who play an integral role in the cancer management team. Students learn to deliver a planned course of radiation therapy. They have a unique opportunity to blend knowledge of mathematics and science with direct patient care.


© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center