Apr 18, 2022
Fast-Growing Health Care Professions at ETSU

“When students decide they want to go into health care, they typically think of two things – a physician or a nurse. However, if you look at what comprises the health care team, it’s allied health professionals making up two-thirds of the team, and that’s a wide description of everybody else besides nurses or physicians,” says Dr. Don Samples, dean of the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences at East Tennessee State University.

“It’s the physical therapists, the occupational therapists, the speech-language pathologists, the respiratory therapists, the radiographers, the nutritionists, and social workers,” he said. “All those are academic programs we have in this college from which our graduates are working in both the acute care setting, which is the hospitals, and long-term care settings, such as nursing homes and rehab centers.”

etsuHis college provides a degree pathway to many of those professions, including allied health, dental hygiene, radiologic science, social work, and prosthetics and orthotics. Certificate programs are available in computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and sports nutrition.

Also among the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences’ offerings are programs in six of the 2022 “Best Health Care Jobs,” according to U.S. News & World Report. These are speech-language pathology, respiratory therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, nutrition, and audiology.

Professionals in all of these fields are in high demand, Samples says, which bodes well for the future of the college’s students and graduates.

“It’s reassuring for me at graduation every year when we see our graduates walk across the stage and receive their diploma, that I know they have two things that are guaranteed to them,” he said. “And those two things are plenty of job opportunities, so regardless of where they relocate, whether it’s in this region or across the country, there’s a very high probability there’ll be positions available for them. Also, they’ll be able to afford a very good quality of life and standard of living.”

Nutrition majors may go on to become registered dietitians and go into clinical work in health care settings, school nutrition, sports nutrition, or corporate health, while some go into medical school, physical therapy, or other fields, according to Mary Andreae, an assistant professor of nutrition in the Department of Rehabilitative Sciences.

“There’s a variety, and that’s just scratching the surface,” said Andreae. “There are a lot of areas where people can fine-tune their love for nutrition and work with people. They can find their niche.”

The job market for dietitians and nutritionists is expected to grow by 11% by 2030, and the median pay is $63,090 annually, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

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Kayla Chambers, a junior from Knoxville, was working toward a career in physical therapy when a “Sports Nutrition” course led her to change direction.

“I’m learning the muscles in all my other classes, but if you don’t give your muscles what you need, they can’t even form in the first place,” said Chambers, who plans to attend graduate school at ETSU and become a registered dietitian. “You can’t even survive without food. What are you putting in your body? It’s so cool and so fascinating how it just controls everything. Everything you put in your body is what you get out.”

Visit the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences at the ETSU website, etsu.edu/crhs to learn more about the wide variety of academic programs it offers.

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