Health professions programs continue to grow in size, even without nursing

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Pacific University’s College of of Health Professions began in Forest Grove, Ore. in 2004 and has continued to rapidly expand over the years. Over time it has grown to include eight schools, adding the schools of Audiology, Dental Hygiene Studies, Healthcare Administration and Leadership and Pharmacy.

However, even with the success of all of these programs, questions of expansion are always on the brain. Specifically, people have contemplated why Pacific has never expressed interest in offering a nursing school program.

The connection seems simple. With Tuality Community Hospital being less than seven miles away from the university, Pacific could form a connection easily, right? The reality of the situation is not as simple as one might expect, and it goes far beyond location and proximity.

According to President Lesley Hallick, Pacific has not seriously considered nursing in the recent past for two main reasons. These include the cost of constructing and supplying all of the facilities necessary for such a program or school and the competition that would be ever present via other nearby schools.

“It is a question that comes up from time to time,” Hallick said. Though having spent the last two decades of her career with Oregon Health and Science University, the president is fully aware of the costs and considerations that go into such a process.

“Without a subsidiary to back some of the costs or loan forgiveness being offered through some type of work, achieving a nursing education would become very expensive,” Hallick said. “With need going up and down so regularly, in an area with so many other nursing schools, it’s not a great way to grow an academic program.”

While this is a logical enough conclusion to come to, it is only accentuated by the fact that Pacific offers many programs other schools have not considered. Instead of entering a competitive game of who can provide the better nursing opportunities, Pacific separates itself by offering newer areas of study like pharmacy, dental hygiene and audiology.

“What we are trying to do is find the market niches,” Hallick said. “I wouldn’t say we would never go in the nursing but at this time it doesn’t seem like the best use of our resources.”

By staying in its own lane, and creating programs that are not offered by other schools, Pacific and its health professions programs continue to prosper among niche crowds.  

Pacific’s health professional programs prosper in part by simply by avoiding competition in favor of serving smaller and sometimes more innovative fields.


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