Using Research Effectively

My institution has a specific position (mine) that is responsible for conducting all the preliminary research on new programs to assess need, identify competitors, determine programmatic accreditation/approval requirements, develop a budget, etc. I have discovered a lot of resources on my own; however, the biggest challenge remains getting accurate information on employment need/projections. BLS and state data are not always timely, and I often don't get enough of a response to phone calls or email requests/surveys to potential employers to be helpful. I would love to have more strategies to get employers involved and make it easier for them to participate in and provide valuable input into our research.

Tammy - the BLS is often of no help. Yet, you always need to review it and add it into your research.

When you send out emails and surveys to potential employers, are you adding a carrot? What is in it for them to respond?

Currently, in an independent consultant role, I feel prepared to conduct field surveys and collect data to determine if a new training program is in demand by employers, and discern their 5-10 year employment needs, and commitment to hire well-trained, credentialed graduates. Also, I feel prepared to obtain survey data to determine availability of clinical externship participation opportunities, potential for qualified advisory board members, and assess current competition in the local area, region, and state, relative to a new program addition. I am comfortable gathering, reviewing, and analyzing the survey data, and reporting the results in a formal report.

I would like to know if there is a course available, that provides information and format, apart from a focus group or advisory board meeting, for facilitating a meeting of allied health employers, and community members, from various medical fields, to discuss future training and employment needs, due to emerging fields and advances in science and technology.


I will ask our team if we can create one. Currently, there isn't one this specific to meet your identified need that I'm aware of.

Christopher Nickell

As the Educational Director, I understand how important faculty participation is when developing any type of addition or possible removal of a program. The Educators are the individuals on the front line implementing these changes. I believe that if there is not full support from the Educators and they do not believe in the change, then the process is jeopardized at the very beginning. How would you suggest influencing team members to support a project that they may be hesitant about?

Although I am not an independant consultant, I am an instructor I feel that I am capable of conducting research to determine new programs to offer. I am very versed on items that are relevant to education and medicine and these two programs are in constant change. Being versatile allows me to look for new things that can help the people in my area.


They have to be involved from the beginning, the very beginning. A goal must be stated...usually to create more growth and to fill a need for specific training in a local market area. School groups that involve front line faculty early and often find the most success in new programs or program modifications. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is keeping front line associates or faculty in the dark about the business need. You sometimes think...there job is to teach the curriculum. Wrong, their job is to deliver world-class service through the educational experience and to own the results of their students, programs and the college. Bringing them into the fold, the P&L, the business needs, the training needs of the market area, that is the best thing you can do to get buy in. Create a team of operators, not just faculty. When they are involved in daily business decisions and they understand the situations you face that require adaptation and change, they are more likely to support your initiatives.

Christopher Nickell


What area of medicine do you teach within higher education?

Christopher Nickell

We have a good deal of high-level research from places such as the BLS, information from our PAC as well as information regarding what our local competitors offer. What has been really eye-open though has been calling several of the large employers in our area and learning about their training requirements.


At least you are reaching out to the large employers. Many career services departments do not because typically, they don't hire a lot of our graduates. Even if they do not usually hire our graduates, they hold key information on the reason and tapping into that will open up opportunities with larger employers down the road.

Christopher Nickell

I am to currently in-charge of conducting research to determine new programs. I have over 30 years experience in the career school industry. Since we deal with the Workforce Board, I have studied the Targeted Occupations list. I have extensive experience with the regulatory requirements so I am familiar with new program requirements. I have also conducted interviews and field surveys. I have set a timeline for the completion of this project, have assessed the competition, researched on-line job sites, and accessed data from the BLS. I have begun to analyze all the data.

How prepared are you to conduct research to determine what new training programs to offer? What else do you feel you still need to know?

we used a lot of research tools to identify the new programs that we would like to implement. we need to conduct surveys and focus groups to learn modern about the programs that interest the community.

I'm wondering who you would ask -- -what community memenrs. From whom will you pull your sample? I am in the Chicago area, which is a large market. We have pulled samples from industry, but smaller local markets have utilized the Chamber of Commerce and business societies with success.

Lisa Sharpe

When my school begins the process of researching and developing a new program, we immediately hire an instructor who serves as the program coordinator for the new program. We use that instructor’s expertise in the field, networking connections, and curriculum development abilities throughout the entire program development process. The program coordinator assists with the new program applications to the State, the institution accreditation agency, and the programmatic accreditation agency (if required). Our school has learned that having an instructor with industry/program expertise is an essential part of a successful new program development process.


This is a wonderful idea. I wish more institutions would look to faculty as their main source first. Experienced faculty who are also practitioners in their field give a perfect balance between educational and industry needs.

Dr. Lisa Sharpe