History of the College of Allied Health Sciences


Early History

Allied Health was first introduced at the Medical College of Georgia in 1937, when medical technology laboratory training was offered at University Hospital, then MCG's teaching hospital. Dr. Edgar R. Pund was the first program director. Post-baccalaureate students were eligible for the program and were awarded certificates of proficiency after three years of study.

The 1940s

A second allied health field was introduced in 1948, when the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine was created, with Jack Wilson as program director. In 1949, he was succeeded by Orville A. Parkes and the first student was admitted. The first master of science degree in medical illustration was granted two years later.

Dr. Walter L. Shepeard, professor of pathology and director of the hospital clinical laboratories, became the faculty mentor for the medical technology laboratory program in 1948, a position he held until his retirement in 1971.

The 1950s

In 1953, the medical illustration program was expanded to three years. A bachelor's program in medical illustration began in 1962, and when the School of Graduate Studies was established that year, the master's program was placed under its administration. The program was the first in the nation to be accredited by the Association of Medical Illustrators.

When the MCG's teaching hospital opened in 1957, a certificate program in radiologic technology began. Cecil H. Hall was program director and chief of the technical staff.

Also in 1957, the medical technology curriculum was revised and training moved into the newly constructed Talmadge Memorial Hospital. Students completing this program were awarded a bachelor of science degree in medical technology from the University of Georgia.

The 1960s

Allied health sciences at MCG continued to grow in the 1960s with the addition of the School of Medical Record Library Science, now the Department of Health Management and Informatics, with Juanita Sirmans as director. The new program was unable to recruit a qualified medical record librarian, so Sirmans took a year's leave of absence to attend the U.S. Public Health Service medical record librarian educational program. The first class of four students was accepted in 1962.

A bachelor's program in dental hygiene, with Julia J. Galbaugh as director, was initiated in 1967 in conjunction with the establishment of the School of Dentistry. Development of this program stimulated the plan to establish an allied health sciences school on the campus. It also led to the establishment of six associate degree dental hygiene programs within the university system and the abolition of dental hygiene preceptor training in Georgia.

The radiologic technology program was expanded in 1963 with the addition of a baccalaureate program. A certificate program in nuclear medicine technology was added in 1968.

In 1966, the medical technology program was again updated. Graduates could choose to receive their degree from the University of Georgia or the Medical College of Georgia, and the curriculum was altered to allow two years of study at UGA followed by seven quarters of specialized training at MCG.

School of Allied Health Sciences established

The Board of Regents established the School of Allied Health Sciences in 1968, with Dr. Raymond Bard as dean. Bard joined the MCG faculty in 1967 as professor of cell and molecular biology and as the institution's first vice president.

Dr. Bard consolidated the several existing allied health programs to form the school, which included the departments of medical technology, medical illustration, radiologic technologies, dental hygiene and medical record science (now the Department of Health Management and Informatics).

The 1970s

The school grew rapidly during the '70s as four new departments were added. The Department of Physical Therapy was formed in 1970, with Dr. Bella J. May as chairwoman. The bachelor's program, based on a curriculum designed to help graduates think, analyze, read, and communicate more effectively, has been widely copied at other institutions. An associate degree was added in 1975 to train physical therapist assistants and a master of health education program began in 1979.

In 1971, Dr. Nancy D. Pendergast became chairwoman of the new Department of Occupational Therapy. The baccalaureate program accepted its first 12 students the following year. In 1975, a master's program began.

The Physician Assistant Program was developed in 1972, one of the first in the nation. Dr. John R. Palmer, department chairman, developed the curriculum with the help of Dr. James A. Estep and consultative advice from many sources. The program was fully accredited in 1975. Dr. Jerry A. Smith succeeded  Palmer as chairman in 1977 and implemented curriculum improvements and expansions as the role of PAs grew.

The Department of Respiratory Therapy was formed in 1974, with Richard W. Beckham as chairman. The first class of seven baccalaureate students graduated in 1977; the program received initial accreditation in 1978.

Dr. Armand B. Glassman became chairman of the Department of Medical Technology in 1971. During his tenure, a master of health education program was initiated. In 1972, the curriculum was again updated, allowing students to complete their education entirely at MCG, rather than attending UGA for the first two years. Ann Stuart Anderson was appointed acting chair of the department in 1976, and became department chairwoman the following year.

The Department of Radiologic Technologies expanded with the establishment of a certificate program in radiation therapy technology in 1972, with Francis Hamilton as program director. A baccalaureate program in nuclear medicine technology began in 1974. In 1975, the radiography certificate program was replaced with an associate in science program. Scott T. Gregory succeeded Hall as chairman upon his retirement in 1979.

The Department of Medical Record Science was renamed the Department of Medical Record Administration in 1973. In 1979, Sirmans retired and was succeeded by Sara Davenport.

The Department of Medical Illustration increased admission requirements during the early 1970s, and the bachelor's program was phased out in 1974. Dr. Paul Brucker succeeded Parkes as chairman in 1974.

The dental hygiene program expanded greatly during the 1970s, beginning with the appointment of Dr. Billy M. Pollard as chairman in 1972. The name of the unit changed to the Department of Associated Dental Sciences in 1975 to reflect the addition of three new programs: an associate degree in dental hygiene, a master of health education, and an associate degree in dental laboratory technology.

The 1980s

The Department of Radiologic Technologies instituted an associate in science program in nuclear medicine technology in 1980. The radiation therapy technology program also expanded with the addition of an associate in science degree, with Sue Weinstein as the program director.

The Department of Respiratory Therapy added an associate degree in 1980. The first class of five graduated in 1982. Shelley C. Mishoe, one of the department's founding faculty, became chairwoman in 1988, and the associate degree program moved to Augusta Technical Institute.

In 1983, the Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program was developed as a certificate program with Houda Bracewell as program director. The first bachelor's degree students were accepted in 1984.

Dr. Jan Perry succeeded May as department chairwoman in the Department of Physical Therapy in 1984.

Also in 1984, the Department of Occupational Therapy began an associate degree program for occupational therapy assistants. A neurodiagnostic technology associate of science degree program was formed in 1987, administratively housed in the occupational therapy department. In 1989, department chairwoman Prendergast was appointed associate dean for academic affairs of the school. Dr. Virginia Allen and Nancy Moulin served successively as acting chairs.

The Department of Medical Technology began an associate of science degree in histotechnology in 1986 in collaboration with the Department of Pathology. In 1988, the 4+1 medical technology program began, allowing students with a bachelor's in biology or chemistry to complete the program in one year. Anderson retired in 1989 and was succeeded by Dr Julia Crowley.

The Departments of Medical Technology and Occupational Therapy moved into the newly renovated Milton Antony Wing of the old University Hospital on the MCG campus in 1980. On May 1, 1987, the building was dedicated in honor of Walter Shepeard, the first chairman of the Department of Medical Technology.

Smith retired as chairman of the Department of Physician Assistant in June 1984 and Dr. Biagio J. Vericella, then Associate Dean of the school, served as acting chairman until Bonnie A. Schmidt was appointed in November 1984.

In May 1986, a baccalaureate degree in Radiation Therapy was implemented, under the direction and development of Anne Marie Vann.

Dr William Stenstrom was appointed chairman of the Department of Medical Illustration in July 1986, succeeding Brucker, who became Director of Continuing Education and Health Communication.

Health Information Management alumna Linda Harmon Culp ('70), became president of the American Medical Record Association in 1987. Davenport retired in 1989 and Dr. Charlotte Johnston became chairwoman of the newly renamed Department of Health Information Management.

After serving as chairman of the Department of Associated Dental Sciences for 16 years, Pollard retired in 1988. Gail Winkley served as acting chairwoman until she was appointed to the position in 1991.

Dr. Biagio J. Vericella became Dean in June 1988 upon Bard's retirement. Patricia K. Findling became the school's first Assistant Dean for Clinical Affairs. Constance Singleton was appointed Assistant Dean for Business Affairs.

The 1990s

The Department of Associated Dental Sciences established an external degree program in dental hygiene in Rome, Ga., in 1990 to help address a statewide shortage of hygienists. That same year, the Dental Laboratory Technology Program relocated to a new facility at Augusta Technical Institute.

The Center for the Study of Physical Therapy Education was established within the physical therapy department in 1990. The center was designed to facilitate study of physical therapy education, to disseminate information, and to produce innovative educational materials.

The Flow Cytometry Certificate Program was initiated in 1990 by the Department of Medical Technology. In 1993, the department accepted its first master of science student.

Marsha Dohrmann was appointed chairwoman of the Department of Medical Illustration in July 1991, succeeding retiring chairman Stenstrom.

Dr. Ricardo Carrasco was appointed chairman of the Department at Occupational Therapy in 1992.

The Physician Assistant Department established a program in Albany, Ga., in conjunction with the Southwest Georgia Area Health Education Center in 1992, an initiative launched to help address the shortage of PAs in southwest Georgia.

In 1993, the post-certification bachelor's of science in radiologic technology (B.S.R.T.) degree with a major in medical dosimetry was submitted to the American Association of Medical Dosimetrists for national approval. MCG's medical dosimetry program became one of the first five such programs recognized in the United States, and offered the nation's first baccalaureate degree program.

In 1994, the Department of Health Information Management offered a bachelor's degree program in Atlanta in conjunction with DeKalb College.

The Physician Assistant Department initiated a faculty practice in the School of Medicine Department of Family Medicine in 1994.

In 1996, the School of Allied Health Sciences began a curricular revision in anticipation of the 1998 conversion from quarter to semester system.

The dental hygiene program converted back to a bachelor's degree program in 1998 and the satellite program in Rome was transferred to Floyd College.

In 1998, the post-certificate B.S.R.T. degree with a major in medical dosimetry was changed to reflect the department's name change to the Department of Radiologic Sciences, becoming a bachelor's of science in radiologic sciences with a major in medical dosimetry.

The Department of Occupational Therapy introduced a distance-learning baccalaureate program at Columbus State University in 1999.

The 2000s

The Department of Health Information Management began a post-baccalaureate certificate program in Health Information Management in 2000.

In 2001, the Kellett Chair of Allied Health Sciences was established.

Dr. Shelley Mishoe became dean upon Vericella's retirement that same year, an architectural firm began designing a new building to house the school, and Dr. Elizabeth Kenimer Leibach was appointed chairwoman of the Department of Medical Technology.

In 2003, the Departments of Medical Technology and Radiologic Sciences merged to form the Department of Biomedical and Radiological Technologies, the radiography program moved to Augusta Technical College, and Occupational Therapy transitioned to a master's program.

In 2004, the Department of Health Information Management began a Master of Public Health program with a major in Health Informatics and changed its name to the Department of Health Informatics. Dental Hygiene began clinical practice in the Dental Practice Group. The groundbreaking ceremony for a 189,000 square-foot Health Sciences Building to house the Schools of Allied Health Sciences and Nursing was held.

In 2005, Physical Therapy transitioned to a doctoral-level program.

The MCG Allied Health Sciences Practice Group, Inc. was implemented in 2006, and the Physician Assistant program transitioned to a master's level program.

Construction on the Health Sciences Building was completed in 2006, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony held in 2007 included the burial of a 25-year time capsule.

In 2008, the Clinical Laboratory Science program expanded to the Atlanta area with a state-of-the art, 53-foot mobile student laboratory, and a Master of Health Science in Clinical Laboratory Science (formerly Medical Technology) was approved for students already holding a baccalaureate degree. The B.S.R.S. degree with a major in medical dosimetry transitioned to a master's level program.

The 2010s

In June 2010, Vann retired as the Radiation Therapy program director. Sam Painter served as acting director until Lynne Eggert was appointed in December.

In 2011, the Medical College of Georgia was renamed Georgia Health Sciences University, with the School of Medicine retaining the MCG name. The School of Allied Health Sciences became the College of Allied Health Sciences. The Department of Biomedical and Radiological Technology was renamed the Department of Medical Laboratory, Imaging and Radiologic Sciences.

Dr. Andrew Balas succeeded Mishoe as Dean in 2011, and became founding Director of the university's new Institute of Public and Preventive Health the next year.

In 2012, Dr. Lester Pretlow became Chairman of the Department of Medical Laboratory, Imaging and Radiologic Sciences; Dr. Scott Hasson was named chairman of the Department of Physical Therapy; and Dr. Michael Iwama became Chairman of the Department of Occupational Therapy.

In January 2013, Georgia Health Sciences University consolidated with Augusta State University to become Augusta University.

The medical dosimetry program was deactivated in May 2013.

In November 2013, Dr. Pretlow was named Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Subsequently, Dr. Yoon-Ho Seol was named Interim Chairman of the Department of Medical Laboratory, Imaging and Radiologic Sciences.

A new Department of Clinical and Environmental Sciences was created in 2013, housing the Respiratory Therapy program, the Environmental Health concentration in the MPH program, and the Augusta-Area Dietician Internship, management of which began to transition from University Hospital to the Augusta University College of Allied Health Sciences.

Dr. Abiodun Akinwuntan assumed the role of Associate Dean of Research for the College in 2014. Ana Thompson was named Chairwoman of the Department of Dental Hygiene, Dr. Iwama added Interim Chairman of Medical Illustration to his duties, and Dr. Gianluca De Leo was named Chairman of the Departments of Clinical and Environmental Health and of Health Management and Informatics. Dr. Pavani Rangachari was named Interim Associate Dean for Practice and Community Health.



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