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Monday, September 17, 2007

Peninsula Regional Announces $100,000 to Continue SU Instructorship

SALISBURY, MD---The region’s predominant medical center and largest institution of higher learning are again joining forces to expand the pool of future medical professionals.   

Peninsula Regional Medical Center has announced the commitment of $100,000 to continue the Peninsula Regional Clinical Instructorship at Salisbury University.  This will ensure the position through 2013.  During the past two years, the faculty instructorship has allowed the Department of Health Sciences’ Program in Respiratory Therapy to dramatically expand enrollment and address a critical shortage of respiratory therapists in the region.

SU’s Respiratory Therapy Program now has nearly 100 majors, a record number, said Dr. Robert Joyner, director.  Since initiating this partnership with Peninsula Regional Medical Center in the spring of 2004, the number of students declaring respiratory therapy as a major has increased over 80 percent. This past year, more than 20 percent of the graduating class accepted positions at the Medical Center, he added.

“Peninsula Regional is pleased to continue its commitment to this very important medical education program.  The greater the capacity for students interested in pursuing a degree in respiratory therapy the better it is for our Medical Center, the patients we care for and the region we serve.  Salisbury University plays a significant role in the training and availability of health care professionals in our area.  It’s important to us that these programs continue to expand and be successful,”  said Alan Newberry, president/CEO of the Peninsula Regional Health System. 

“The University is proud to partner with a medical center with such an excellent national reputation,” said SU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach.  “We are grateful for the clinical opportunities and scholarships that Peninsula Regional offers to all our students pursuing medical careers, not only in respiratory therapy, but also in nursing and clinical laboratory science.”

SU is the only institution of higher learning in Maryland offering a bachelor of science in respiratory therapy. Fifty-five such baccalaureate programs exist in the country, Joyner said.  SU’s program is nationally accredited by the American Medical Association’s Committee on the Accreditation of Respiratory Care Programs.  In a recent site visit officials praised it for substantially exceeding national accreditation standards.

This fall, with the Peninsula Regional clinical instructorship, 35 students have been admitted to the program—the largest entering class in the department’s history.  “We wouldn’t be able to do this without help from the Medical Center,” Joyner said.

Nationally, demand is so great for respiratory therapists that SU majors are often offered jobs before they graduate.  In the spring of 2007, the Maryland, Delaware, northern Virginia, and Washington, D.C., areas had approximately 300 respiratory therapist positions available while area programs were graduating about 150 students—half the need.

Part of the demand is driven by the increase in older Americans. According to a 2007 report,  ShoreWisdom™” by the GrayShore™ Initiative of the Business, Economic and Community Outreach Network (BEACON) at Salisbury University, the elderly are increasing almost three times as rapidly as the rest of the general population in Maryland.  This is exacerbated on the Eastern Shore, a “retirement magnet.”  While some counties in the Baltimore-Washington corridor are losing retirees, senior citizens are flocking to the Shore.  Seven of its nine counties are net importers of seniors and Worcester County draws the largest number of seniors in Maryland.  This age group is projected to nearly double in Dorchester, Wicomico and Worcester counties by 2030, BEACON said.

Officials at both SU and Peninsula Regional believe continuing collaboration and cooperation between their two institutions will help to better meet the needs of this expanding population.

For more information on the SU Respiratory Therapy Program call 410-543-6365 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu.   For more information on health profession scholarships at Peninsula Regional call 410-543-7126 or visit the Medical Center Web site at www.peninsula.org.

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                           Peninsula Regional/SU Respiratory Therapy Facts

SU respiratory therapy graduates have an excellent track record.  Across the country, graduating respiratory therapists have a 62 percent passing rate on the national licensing examination.  At SU it’s been 99.9 percent over the last nine years.

Peninsula Regional and SU have a long history of collaboration.  For many years the University’s health professions departments-nursing, clinical laboratory science and respiratory therapy-were housed in the Avery W. Hall Educational Center at Peninsula Regional.   SU’s Nursing Department originally grew out of the Medical Center’s PGH School of Nursing.

In 2007 HealthGrades, Inc., the nation’s leading health care ratings company, awarded Peninsula Regional Medical Center 5-Star Ratings in its orthopedic, heart, stroke, pulmonary and critical care service lines. HealthGrades, Inc. also rated Peninsula Regional number one in Maryland for overall orthopedic services and number one on the Eastern Shore for vascular surgery and for the treatment of stroke.



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