Sep. 10, 2020

AUSTIN, Texas — St. Edward’s University and University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio are working together to create a direct pathway for students seeking to become healthcare professionals.

St. Edward’s Provost Andrew Prall and University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) Provost Barbara Aranda-Naranjo signed four agreements that give St. Edward’s undergraduates an edge in pursuing advanced healthcare degrees at UIW’s schools of Osteopathic Medicine, Pharmacy, Optometry and Physical Therapy.

Under the memorandums of understanding (MOUs), UIW will offer guaranteed interview spots and seats in each cohort for qualified students in the Osteopathic Medicine, Pharmacy, Optometry and Physical Therapy programs.

 The Feik School of Pharmacy will guarantee interview slots for qualified students, The Rosenburg School of Optometry will guarantee up to 10 interview slots for qualified students and the School of Physical Therapy will guarantee up to 10 seats for qualified students. Finally, in the School of Osteopathic Medicine, the MOU will guarantee up to 10 interview slots and 2 seats for qualified students. 

The MOUs will go into effect this fall beginning with the current application cycle for students entering their programs in the Fall 2021 cohort. 

“This formal partnership with University of the Incarnate Word will give our Class of 2020 a direct pathway to UIW’s rigorous graduate degree programs,” said Andrew Prall, Provost of St. Edward’s University. “Looking forward, we hope this is the start of a long collaboration between UIW and St. Edward’s that will equip and prepare students to meet the state’s growing healthcare demands.” 

Nationally, employment of healthcare occupations is projected to grow 14 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 1.9 million new jobs, according to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Healthcare is a cornerstone of the University of the Incarnate Word, said UIW Provost Barbara Aranda-Naranjo, 

“The Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word were called to action during a pandemic and serving the healthcare needs of our communities has been our calling ever since,” Barbara Aranda-Naranjo. “With the current COVID-19 pandemic, health care workers are needed to serve in vulnerable population communities and this agreement between St. Edward’s and UIW will ensure there will be health care providers to work with these populations.”

The joint effort is also an opportunity for students drawn to St. Edward’s Holy Cross mission to continue an educational path rooted in social justice and community service, which are pillars of both our institutions.

“It takes a village to holistically develop students,” said Jason De La Rosa, director of Career and Professional Development at St. Edward’s and chair of the health professions advisory committee. “When students utilize pre-health services at St. Edward’s, the health professions programs at University of the Incarnate Word are a natural place to continue that trajectory of a commitment to one’s community, rooted in a mission of social justice.” 

While St. Edward’s has a track record of educating students to successfully pursue medical and doctor of physical therapy degrees, De La Rosa believes that the new agreements may encourage current and future St. Edward’s students to pursue degrees in Pharmacy and Optometry. 

The university offers pathways to a number of pre-health professions, including: Pre-medical, Pre-dental, Pre-veterinary, Pre-nursing, Pre-occupational therapy, Pre-physician assistant, Pre-pharmacy and Pre-optometry. 

On average, roughly 70 to 85 percent of students who take advantage of pre-health professions guidance offered by the Office of Career and Professional Development at St. Edward’s are accepted to health professions programs each year. To compare, national acceptance ranges from 20 to 40 percent, depending on the type of program. 

The St. Edward’s partnership with UIW is the latest healthcare path available to students.

In 2017, the university signed an articulation agreement with Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing that allows students to enter an accelerated post-baccalaureate FastBacc program. In 2018, the university entered an agreement with Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, which guarantees at least one seat per year in their Master of Science in Community Engaged Medicine program.