College of Health Professions Celebrates 50th Anniversary

The College of Health Professions at UTHSC includes departments of Audiology and Speech Pathology, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Diagnostic and Health Sciences, as well as Regenerative and Rehabilitation Sciences.

Today the College of Health Professions at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center began small and has grown over the past half century to include four departments and one division in a broad spectrum of health care professions. The college is celebrating its 50thth anniversary today, November 18, with celebrations in Memphis.

The college includes divisions of Audiology and Speech Pathology, Diagnostic and Health Sciences, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Regenerative and Rehabilitative Sciences. It has campuses in Memphis and Knoxville, where students and faculty participate in training, clinical practice and research designed to help the citizens of Tennessee lead better lives.

Four programs have been ranked in the top 50 nationally by U.S. News & World Report for similar programs. These include doctoral programs in Audiology (26), master’s programs in Speech and Language Pathology (38), master’s programs in Occupational Therapy (42), and doctoral programs in Physical Therapy (49).

A look at 50 years of progress

1922 The School of Medical Technology is founded by Dr. Harry Schmeisser, Chair of the UT Memphis Department of Pathology at Memphis General Hospital. Registered nurse Mabel Ward is the instructor of the women-only program. Florence Frost and Ethel Holmes are the first students.

1926 The Dental Hygiene program has been established in the UT Memphis College of Dentistry.

1936 John Gaston Hospital opens, replacing Memphis General Hospital. The new facility allows for the expansion of the medical technology curriculum.

1946 The School of Medical Technology formally becomes affiliated with UT Memphis, and students begin receiving certificates of completion from UT Memphis.

1951 The cytotechnology program has been established in the UT Memphis College of Medicine Department of Pathology as a source of trained personnel for the US Public Health Service pilot mass-screening for cervical cancer.

1953 The Radiologic Technology program has been established in the Department of Radiology at UT Memphis College of Medicine.

1954 The Medical Records Administration Program has been established at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis.

1962 The Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology is established at UT Knoxville with Dr. Freeman McConnell as Department Head.

1965 The UT Memphis Physical Therapy Program is established in the College of Medicine’s Department of Medicine.

1966 The Allied Health Professions Personnel Training Act is passed, with the purpose of “increasing opportunities for training of medical technologists and personnel in other allied health professions and improving the educational quality of schools training such personnel.”

1969 A proposal for the formation of a College of Allied Health Professions at UTHSC has been presented to the Board of Trustees of the University of Tennessee.

1972 The College is established as the College of Community and Allied Health Professions with four departments: Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Physical Therapy, Radiologic Technology (formerly part of the College of Medicine); and Dental Hygiene (formerly at the College of Dentistry). Dr. Lee Holder has been appointed dean.

1973 The Baptist Memorial Hospital Medical Records Administration program has been transferred to the College of Community and Allied Health Professions.

1985 The name of the college has been changed to College of Allied Health Sciences.

1988 The new occupational therapy program accepts its first class of five students in 1988.

1993 Medical Records Administration has been renamed Health Information Management.

2008 Health information management becomes health informatics and information management.

2009 The UT Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology has become affiliated with the College of Allied Health Sciences.

2010 Dr. Noma Anderson has been appointed Dean of the College, becoming the first African American to serve as Dean at UTHSC.

2012 The Physician Assistant Studies program has been added to the college. It has been shifted to the College of Medicine in 2016.

2014 The name of the college has been changed to College of Health Professions.

2016 Rachel’s Stevens Therapy Center is opened, serving as a student-run, free pediatric OT clinic for the Memphis community.

2019 The Department of Rehabilitation Sciences has been created to promote research within the college.

2020 The Departments of Clinical Laboratory Sciences and Health Informatics and Information Management have been merged to become the Department of Diagnostic and Health Sciences.

2021 The Division of Rehabilitation Sciences becomes the Division of Regenerative and Rehabilitation Sciences.

The College of Health Professions celebrates today from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. CST at two locations in Memphis. Diagnostic and Health Sciences Reunion and Medical Laboratory Science Program Reunion Charlie Vargos Rendezvous, 52 S. Located on 2nd St. Occupational therapy and audiology/speech pathology reunions, as well as physical therapy reunions, are at Memphis Rock ‘N. ‘ Soul Museum, 191 Beale St.

To read more about the College of Health Professions, pleasease View the College’s Spring 2022 magazine.

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