On July 1, 2022, the UNC School of Medicine department formerly known as Allied Health Sciences officially changed its name to the Department of Health Sciences.
The name change has been in discussion and moving through university protocols since 2019; it is welcomed as an opportunity to accurately reflect the department’s operation and better align with national trends.
“The new name captures all of our current disciplines, provides a broad umbrella for our multiple missions, will support continued recruitment of high caliber faculty and students, and allows for future program expansion,” said Dr. Stephen Hooper, Associate Dean of Medicine and Chair of the Department of Health Sciences. “We recognize that we are not a single entity – we are multiple professions under one roof, and ‘Health Sciences’ fully captures our collection of professions and tripartite mission.”
The Department of Health Sciences is comprised of seven divisions: the Division of Clinical Laboratory Science, Division of Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling, Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Division of Physical Therapy, Division of Radiologic Science, and Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences. It is also home to various other research centers and academic units, including the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies, Center for Aphasia and Related Disorders (CARD), Human Movement Science Curriculum, Program for Early Autism Research, Leadership & Service (PEARLS), and Neurodiagnostics and Sleep Science.
The Evolution of Health Science Professions
The term “allied health” was popularized by the passage of the Allied Health Professions Personnel Training Act in 1967, which brought a new and radical concept of unifying the various disciplines that comprised allied health into academic units with a single administration. Programs included the term “allied” in their names to align with the 1967 training act and associated funding.
During past 50 years, these professions have grown to become large, active, and independent disciplines, and have advanced beyond their initial definition and “allied” label. Many now have their own national and international professional organizations, accreditation bodies, practice standards, graduate degrees, and terminal doctoral degrees.
The Association of Schools Advancing Health Professions (ASAHP), the national organization for health professions programs, changed its name to remove the term “allied” in 2019. With its updated name, the Department of Health Sciences within UNC’s School of Medicine now more fully aligns with ASAHP and other member schools, departments, and colleges across the country.
Dr. Hooper shared, “While it may appear to be a subtle change in our department name, it has major implications for our standing on the national stage and for addressing our departmental objectives across the state and region. The name change also positions us well for the future. I am grateful to the School of Medicine, my faculty and staff, and everyone involved in helping to make this happen.”
The mission of the Department of Health Sciences is to improve the health and wellbeing of all people of North Carolina, the nation, and globally through exemplary and culturally sensitive teaching, innovative research, and person-centered care. Through its teaching, research, and clinical care, the department is committed to engagement with diverse student, faculty, and patient/client populations and to creating an inclusive and equitable environment in which to work and learn.