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Coming This Fall, New Programs & Offerings That Position Students for Employment

Rhode Island College laboratory.

Rhode Island College laboratory.

 

New academic offerings at RIC this fall prepare students for employment in high-demand science and health fields. Other offerings build on the college’s long history of preparing teachers to meet the educational needs of the state.

In response to the growing demand for scientists in the food industry in Rhode Island, RIC has established a new concentration in food safety — the first of its kind in the state.

According to the Rhode Island Department of Health, Rhode Island is home to 221 wholesale food-processing companies, 115 retail food-processing companies, 74 meat processors, 51 shellfish-related businesses, 38 businesses with dairy licenses and 71 licensed food warehouse distributors. However, the chief complaint among hiring agents is that they cannot find candidates with enough food safety knowledge and experience to fill available positions, said Director of Health-Related Programs Eric Hall. 

Food safety is not only an industry priority but an important public health issue, he added. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year roughly one in six Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. At every stage of the manufacturing supply chain, food safety issues can occur, which is why the industry seeks to employ trained personnel, said Hall. 

Course content for the food safety concentration incorporates knowledge of food safety with an understanding of food chemistry and microbiology and a fundamental understanding of food processing and production management. Students take courses in sciences and math, as well as foodborne disease, food microbiology and fundamentals of food processing. 

“When I approached our biology faculty about this program, their eyes lit up,” Hall said. “Their level of excitement is gratifying and I’m looking forward to this program being very successful.”

Also in the area of public health is a new course offering in the School of Management. Quality Improvement in Health Care, a course designed for health care administration majors, trains future middle managers and CEOs how to lead quality improvement initiatives at health care facilities.

Along with in-class study, course work consists of interfacing with quality improvement professionals, attending quality improvement meetings and participating in live webinars sponsored by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Among the skills students develop are problem solving, teamwork, data collection/measurement and statistical analysis. 

Again in the area of health, RIC is offering a new concentration in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRIs are among the most powerful diagnostic tools available for studying the brain, heart and muscles as well as certain kinds of cancers. Technological advances in MRI scanning are requiring that technicians have a higher level of education, and RIC is preparing them for certification.

Building on RIC’s long history of preparing teachers to meet the educational needs of the state, the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development (FSEHD) has responded to the new Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) regulations. Effective Jan. 1, 2015, RIDE will require individuals seeking special education administration certification to have prior certification in building level administration. The FSEHD has revised its educational leadership major to include a unique dual-certification track – building level administrator certification with a strand in special education administration.

The FSEHD has also redesigned its major in elementary education with a teaching concentration in special education. In the past, elementary education and special education acted independently and autonomously in terms of teacher candidate preparation, providing separate courses and separate field-based experiences. Now the two disciplines have integrated, offering a sequential framework for courses and assessments, collaborative teaching, a cohort-based structure, partnerships with schools and a full-year student teaching residency.

Through new courses and concentrations, RIC is situating itself on the cutting edge of next-generation employment and positioning its students for professional opportunities.