Ken Turley

Director and Professor of Cardiac Function and Interventional Technology 

What is the Master of Science in cardiac function and interventional technology program

A master’s program in cardiac function and interventional technology, it’s the first degree-based program in the country. There are three certificate-based programs like it, but this is the first one to actually give a degree, so that’s one thing that’s unique. We’re training students in two different areas, cardiac rhythm management and electrophysiology. There will also be clinical aspects where our students will go into the hospitals and learn from the physicians and staff there. It’s very industry based. These health care professionals will help us train because they want to hire our students.

What is your background in this field? 

I’m an exercise physiologist, but really more of a physiologist, and my research has always been cardiovascular related. I’ve published studies on some of the blood pressure control variables in the body and how those change with aging. The cardiovascular side has always been my interest, where I spend my time and efforts. I’ve taught on electrocardiograms and cardiac rehab. 

What was the inspiration for starting this program?

Two of my former students had gone to one of the certificate-based programs out there. I started thinking, “We’re sending these graduates off to do this type of training at the certificate-based programs. Could we maybe do that here?” I started calling around, and Chad Griffin, who went to ATI in 1998, told me I needed to talk to Mark Sweesy. Mark started the biggest certificate based program, and now he’s our paid consultant. I did some training at one of those programs and met Tristan Pendergrass. Mark said he thought Tristan would be interested in getting involved, and now, he’s here, and we’re developing this program together. My wife, Kelsie, is also heavily involved with this. She spent two weeks at the training with me where we talked to Mark about what it would look like. Together, we decided it needed to be a master’s program. 

What has working with Tristan Pendergrass been like?

Tristan is a strong Christian man who just loves God and is excited to impact patient and student lives. He is unique in that he’s been in the industry for nine years but has taught for five years. He knows the industry, he knows all the contacts and he’s an entrepreneur. He’s really got a passion for entrepreneurship which will be great for Harding. And he’s just great to work with. There are three areas of certification,  and he’s the only one in the world certified in all three. He’s an expert, a great communicator and a great teacher. He is the one we had to have to make all this happen.

Why is Harding the right place for this program? 

When I did my training, 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. We also have amazing resources to draw from here. We have a physician assistant program, nursing programs, a nurse practitioner program anda cadaver lab. This is a global industry. We have students from across the United States and more than 50 nations and territories.. We have the student body and the undergraduate training in exercise science, chemistry and biology. There’s also a sales part to this. It’s kind of unique in that some of the job opportunities are for sales representatives, so that’s where our marketing and business programs come in. 

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Categories: Faculty & Staff.