A new graduate program culminating in a Master of Science in cardiac function and interventional technology will begin Fall 2022. Partnering with business and industry leaders who will provide training and equipment to prepare clinical professionals specializing in cardiac rhythm management and electrophysiology, this program is the first of its kind in the nation.
After several conversations with exercise science alumni who were enrolling in certificate programs at other institutions, Dr. Ken Turley, professor of exercise science, wondered if Harding could offer a graduate degree that would better equip professionals in the field. He and his wife, Kelsie, attended training at Arrhythmia Technologies Institute where they met founder Mark Sweesy, who is now a consultant for Harding. Turley was later introduced to Tristan Pendergrass — the only professional in the world to hold three certifications in this field — who has now joined the faculty. Together this team is leading program development.
In addition to working in classrooms and labs, students will be trained in clinical settings. “These health care professionals will help us train because they want to hire our students,” Turley said. “When I spent two weeks training for one of the certificate programs, I kept hearing, ‘We like the graduates from Harding University.’ The one thing I kept hearing about was their soft skills. This is a very technical field, but it’s not just the technical skills you have to have; it’s the soft skills too.”
The College of Allied Health provides an appropriate setting for this program where students receive a quality education enhanced by training that encourages patient-centered care.
According to the World Health Organization, heart disease is the leading cause of death globally, with an estimated 17.9 million deaths each year. Cardiac rhythm management and electrophysiology are areas of intervention to detect, treat and manage cardiac electrical disorders. These are dynamic fields with everchanging technical components that require highly trained clinical professionals to meet the growing demand. Harding will be the first degree-granting institution training students for the cardiac device industry.
“One of the most unique features about offering a master’s degree program is that these students will be able to leverage the resources that the University provides with other allied health, business and engineering programs to help build a program that is not just technically robust but also helps students communicate well with patients, physicians, health care professionals and coworkers to become great organizational citizens out there in the workplace,” Pendergrass said.
The first cohort in the 10-month master’s program will begin classes in August.