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Green Beret medics have opportunities to earn WVU online degrees

Bobby Dillon |

Silhouettes of soldiers during Military Mission against American flag background.

A unique partnership between WVU and the U.S. Army Special Forces – also known as the Green Berets – brings soldiers to WVU’s Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown for clinical rotations to become Medical Sergeants.

They also have opportunities to earn WVU Online degrees with the credits they earn from this program.

WVU is the first civilian hospital in the country to serve as a clinical training site for Green Beret soldiers.

The training is part of the Army’s Special Forces Qualification Course and brings groups of soldiers to WVU Medicine for 28-day training periods several times throughout the year.

By the time they arrive in Morgantown, the soldiers have already completed extensive training in laboratory, veterinary and surgical medicine, and are considered among the highest trained trauma medics in the United States Military.

While at WVU, the soldiers work in a variety of clinical areas, including obstetrics, pediatrics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, nursing, anesthesiology, general surgery, emergency medicine, and otolaryngology.

After graduating from the course, they are deployed to locations around the world. Often, they serve in remote areas that have little to no medical support, where they are the highest-trained medical providers available and responsible for training indigenous forces.

After their military obligations are complete, many of the soldiers go on to pursue advanced degrees, and that’s where WVU Online comes in.

As part of the partnership, WVU offers the Green Berets 90 credit hours of prior learning from their Joint Service Transcript (JST) for the Regent’s Bachelor of Arts (RBA) degree and approximately 55-58 credit hours for WVU School of Medicine's Health Informatics and Information Management (HIIM) degree.

Both degrees can be completed entirely online and offer the $250 rate for service members.

Health Informatics and Information Management B.S. degree

The Bachelor of Science in Health Informatics and Information Management (HIIM)–the first and only baccalaureate degree of its kind in West Virginia–is a unique combination of business, science, and information technology.

The 120-credit hour program provides diverse opportunities for graduates and is designed for students who are hands-on learners and who are interested in having a direct and valuable impact on patients without being in the physical clinic.

In the HIIM program, students gain valuable experience with advanced healthcare applications currently in use by learning on the internet-based V-Lab, a virtual practice environment developed by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Students also complete three professional practice experiences, accruing 400 hours of practical, hands-on experience.

The program is offered via HyFlex, which allows each student to decide on a day-to-day basis how to participate in each class and activity.

The curriculum includes training in compliance and risk management, healthcare privacy and security, health informatics and data analysis, clinical documentation improvement, information governance, operations and medical records administration, and revenue cycle management (coding and billing).

Because of the diverse curriculum, graduates of the program are prepared to be work-ready health informatics and information management professionals, capable of working in a variety of different settings and positions.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, graduates will find strong job prospects with competitive salaries in this field. New graduates with bachelor’s degrees start with average salaries in the $30,000 to $50,000 range. Five years out, the ranges are upwards of $50,000 to $70,000 annually.

Regents Bachelor of Arts Degree

The Green Berets who enter the Regents Bachelor of Arts, or RBA, degree program may complete the coursework at their own pace. If eligible, they acquire college credit for professional, volunteer, and military experiences.

Offered entirely through WVU Online, the RBA degree meets the unique goals of non-traditional students. It is designed to provide adult learners with either a Liberal Arts or a more comprehensive education when combined with minors.

To enter this program, students need to have been out of high school at least four years. They can begin the RBA program in the fall, spring, or summer terms.

Specifically, students may earn credits through on-campus and online courses (at WVU or transfer), credit by exam, standardized awards, and/or writing portfolios to petition for eligible courses based on work experience, or a combination of each.

WVU offers an online class in RBA portfolio development to guide students through the process of building documentation of any college equivalency credits.

Since its inception, WVU's RBA Program has granted more than 4,000 degrees and that number is expected grow significantly as many adult learners are returning to college to trigger their intellectual curiosity, boost their market value, or for personal fulfillment.

"It is a true pleasure working with this talented and intelligent group of service members," said Penny Lipscomb, associate director and program coordinator of WVU’s Center for Veteran, Military and Family Programs.

"My hope is for WVU to expand their support to this population by offering more online undergraduate programs which will lead directly into a graduate or professional program."

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