The School of Health Professions at UTMB celebrated its largest graduating class, with 305 students, at its Aug. 16 commencement ceremony.
Health professionals include key groups, such as laboratory personnel, physician assistants, physical, occupational and respiratory therapists, among others. They represent 60 percent of the Texas health care work force.
Elizabeth Protas, vice president and dean of the School of Health Professions, officiated the graduation at Moody Gardens Convention Center.
Dr. Danny O. Jacobs, UTMB executive vice president, provost and dean of the School of Medicine, conferred the degrees, which included Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in clinical laboratory sciences; Bachelor of Science degrees in respiratory care; Master of Science degrees in occupational therapy, health professions and physician assistant studies; and doctoral degrees in physical therapy.
Chris Reading was the featured commencement speaker. He is president and chief executive officer of U.S. Physical Therapy — a national operator of physical therapy outpatient clinics and one of Forbes’ “America’s Best Small Companies.”
Founded in 1990, USPH operates 430 clinics in 43 states. Prior to joining USPH in 2003, Reading served in a variety of roles at Healthsouth Corporation, including senior vice president of operations. Reading graduated magna cum laude from the Medical College of Virginia with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy. He enjoyed a long clinical career in sports medicine before ultimately migrating toward the business and development side of ambulatory health care.
“These graduates represent an outstanding group of students, and I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations to them all,” said Protas. “They will fill a vital role in the nation’s changing health care landscape.”
As the Texas population grows and ages, serious chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, chronic lung disease and arthritis, will increase dramatically. According to the American Medical Association, there will be an avalanche of need for health providers to care for these conditions.
Established in 1968, the UTMB School Health Professions has educated more than 7,000 professionals who serve in the nation’s health care workforce.