Introducing Belmont Abbey College Healthcare Education

Health Informatics Program

Belmont Abbey College continues to expand its new degree programs in healthcare with the addition of a Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management and Analytics (HIMA) or Health Informatics. The new offering will help students develop the foundational knowledge and skills needed to transform, interpret, and administer healthcare data. Grounded in our Catholic, Benedictine tradition, and its moral framework, our program will form providers who deliver healthcare that cherishes and builds the whole person. 

Part of a healthcare program in development since 2018, this latest offering will benefit from the contributions and collaboration with CaroMont Health, Gaston College, Gaston County Public Schools, and Holy Angels. A cross-functional team of faculty and staff from Biology, Business, Theology, Student Life, and Academic Affairs, together with our community partners, developed the new healthcare programs for the college. 

The HIMA program communicates to students the methods and skills of the discipline of health information management and analytics, while also preparing its graduates for service and ethical leadership in the healthcare community inspired and informed by the Benedictine Hallmarks, Saint Pope John Paul II’s Ex Corde Ecclesiae, and the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. The latter is a directive from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

Each of the new health degrees will require approval of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and will include Belmont Abbey College’s core, along with a Catholic Bioethics class. Students will apply for admission to the healthcare programs during the spring semester of their sophomore year and must complete and pass a criminal background check, drug screening, and have current immunizations in hand. All students completing the programs will have a clinical or professional practice placement during their senior year. 

Belmont Abbey College has hired a Health Informatics Director, who will officially join the college on June 1, 2020, to guide the program through accreditation and to establish the program. Dr. Daniel Lorence comes to the Abbey most recently from the New York Regional Medical Technology Consortium, New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) where he served as its director. During this time, he also served as the Assistant Dean for Educational and Medical Technology with the Academic Technologies Group at NYIT in Old Westbury, NY. Dr. Lorence holds a Master of Education, Master of Science, Doctor of Philosophy, and Juris Doctor.

The Health Informatics BS is a traditional four-year degree program with a minimum 3.0 GPA in all major courses, no more than two attempts per course, and at least 6 credit hours of work in clinical practical settings.

“We are at a new beginning for Belmont Abbey College as our healthcare degrees take shape. I am overjoyed at the prospect of the impact our students will make on our community and the world. The health informatics major at the Abbey integrates health, technology, data, science, and our uniquely Catholic and Benedictine charism.  With this program our college will bring a much needed moral and charitable ethos the world so desperately needs,” said Dr. Bill Thierfelder president of Belmont Abbey College. 

The job outlook for these graduates will be strong as the Bureau of Labor Statistics cites that the job outlook for health information managers is “much faster than the average”.  Also, our introduction of this program is timely.  The medical community’s response during this pandemic undoubtedly underscores the opportunity and importance of health informatics, such as telehealth, remote patient monitoring, patient engagement, and clinical decision support, but nowhere more pressing than the fields of bioinformatics and predictive modeling.  The HIMA program at Belmont Abbey is poised to respond to a need that is particularly relevant given current public health data needs.

The Health Informatics program will begin accepting pre-health informatic students this fall, with the first students admitted into the major by Fall of 2022 if not sooner. During this time the college will continue to nurture its health field relationships, ensure that BAC infrastructure meets the needs of the new program, and will continue accreditation processes and materials.

HIMA Program
Nursing Program

BSN Program

Belmont Abbey College ventures into a new area of unprecedented value to our community, to our students, and to the future of the college, with the announcement of its first new healthcare education academic program and its first healthcare degree—a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN). With anticipated growth of health care employment in the decades to come, the introduction of this new healthcare-specific academic program and nursing degree will address the career needs of our students and serve the coming needs in our community. In development since 2018, the new healthcare education programs will benefit from the contributions and collaboration with CaroMont Health, Gaston College, Gaston County Public Schools, and Holy Angels. A cross-functional team of faculty and staff from Biology, Business, Theology, Student Life, and Academic Affairs, together with our community partners, developed the new programs for the college.

Consistent with our mission, the BSN degree will include Belmont Abbey College’s core, along with a Catholic Bioethics class. Students will apply for admission to the BSN program during the spring semester of their sophomore year and must complete and pass a criminal background check, drug screening, and have current immunizations in hand. All students completing the program will have a clinical or professional practice placement during their senior year. 

Beginning fall 2020, pending approval from the the North Carolina Board of Nursing, and other regulatory agencies, Belmont Abbey College will admit pre-Nursing freshmen who will be on track to apply for admission as our first cohort of  Nursing program candidates in their junior year. Belmont Abbey College will seek accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and approval from the North Carolina State Board of Nursing. Graduates will work primarily in acute care, long-term care, and ambulatory care in hospital, school, travel, and community settings. 

Belmont Abbey College has hired a Nursing Program Director, Dr. Carolyn Harmon, who will officially join the college on June 1, 2020, to help shepherd the Board of Nursing and program accreditation approvals. Dr. Harmon comes to Belmont Abbey from the Carolinas College of Heath Sciences in Charlotte, and the University of South Carolina with extensive experience in course development in the Nursing field.

The BSN is a traditional four-year degree program with a minimum 3.0 GPA in all major courses, no more than two attempts per course, and at least 6 credit hours of work in clinical practical settings. 

The establishment of this new healthcare education program, which will be followed soon by others, fits into the Benedictine and Catholic heritage of Belmont Abbey College and establish a new area for charity by our students to our community. In addition the complementary nature of our healthcare education programs will provide pathways to graduation for students who change fields. The new programs will reinvigorate the already strong connections with local high schools promoting health fields, Gaston College’s ADN program, and of course CaroMont Health.

“The introduction of a Nursing degree program at Belmont Abbey College, is a prayer answered, and presages a joyous new era for Belmont Abbey College. I look forward with gratitude on the impact our college will make on our hometown and beyond. To connect the history of our monks who sought to bring education to the south, to now bringing the very hands and feet of care to the people of our community is sublimely satisfying,” said Dr. Bill Thierfelder president of Belmont Abbey College. “The relationship with CaroMont Health, Gaston College, and the Gaston County Public Schools, will bear fruit for many years to come.”

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Dr. Carolyn Harmon

Dr. Carolyn Harmon

Dr. Carolyn Harmon currently serves as the Immediate Past President on the national board for the American Nursing Informatics Association (ANIA). Carolyn has also served on ANIA’s board as President, President-elect, and Education Director. She received her Doctor in Nursing Practice (DNP) from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2014. Dr. Harmon is presently working toward her second doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science (PhD), at the University of South Carolina where she is the recipient of the Dean Scholarship.

Carolyn is an American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Board Certified Informatics Nurse, Certified Six Sigma Green Belt, fellow in the Amy V. Cockcroft Leadership Program, and the 2018 recipient of the South Carolina Palmetto Gold Award. Dr. Harmon has developed and started multiple academic nursing programs. She has served as the inaugural Chair of BSN nursing at Carolinas College of Health Sciences where she started their online RN-BSN nursing program. Carolyn also developed the curriculum for the MSN in Nursing Informatics and assisted with the program startup for the MSN in Nursing Administration while serving as a Program Director at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Harmon has disseminated her scholarly activities and practice via national and regional speaker venues as well as journal and book chapter publications.

Dr. Daniel Lorence

Dr Lorence most recently served as Director and Chair of the NY Medical Technology Consortium, a technology development collaborative and business incubator, with faculty appointments at SUNY/Stony Brook University and the New York Institute of Technology. He also served as a Research Professor and Founding Director for the Graduate Program in Health Informatics at Stony Brook University.

He has over 30 years experience in healthcare and research development, having held related positions at the American Medical Association, the American Bar Association, the DOD Medical Service, and the American Society for Quality. He also served as one of the founding faculty members of Penn State’s School of Information Science & Technology, now on permanent display at the Smithsonian as a model of innovation in information science and education.

His research has been supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Pew Foundation, HRSA, the US Dept. Of Health and Human Services, Pharmacia/Upjohn, the American Medical Association, the US Air Force, and a variety of non-profit and governmental agencies.

OUR VALUES

Our mission is to educate students in the liberal arts and sciences so that in all things God may be glorified. In this endeavor, we are guided by the Catholic intellectual tradition and the Benedictine spirit of prayer and learning. Exemplifying Benedictine hospitality, we welcome a diverse body of students and provide them with an education that will enable them to lead lives of integrity, to succeed professionally, to become responsible citizens, and to be a blessing to themselves and to others.

Belmont Abbey College finds its center in Jesus Christ. By his light, we grasp the true image and likeness of God which every human person is called to live out. We aim to renew that likeness in all dimensions of life for our students and members of our community through curricular and co-curricular programs of excellence and virtue based in the liberal arts as practiced in the Catholic and Benedictine intellectual traditions.

  • Embrace and instill the habit of excellence and virtue in all that we do.
  • Foster the development of each member of the Belmont Abbey College community as a total person in keeping with the Rule of St. Benedict.
  • Provide our students with a liberal arts education that prepares them–mind, body and spirit–to pursue the good for themselves and their communities.
  • Share the richness of our Catholic and Benedictine identity through college activities and communications so that we may inspire others to become part of the worldwide Belmont Abbey College community.

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