New BS in Medical Sciences associate program director is planning a medical imaging program
By Kate Hunger
When Laura P. Vasquez was pondering her own career path, she chose a two-year radiological imaging program that would enable her to start working in a well-paid profession, fast.
Almost three decades later, in January 2022, Dr. Vasquez, PhD, MS, RVT (ARDMS), RT (R), (MR) (ARRT), MRSO (MRSCTM), joined the faculty of the School of Health as the new associate program director of the new Bachelor of Science in Medical Sciences program, which will welcome its first class in fall 2022.
“I wish I would have had a program like this when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do,” Dr. Vasquez said.
Born and raised in Chicago, Dr. Vasquez continued her education in her hometown, earning an associate degree in diagnostic imaging from Wilbur Wright College and three degrees from Rush University: a bachelor’s in vascular ultrasound technology, a master’s in perfusion technology and a PhD in health sciences.
Dr. Vasquez’s own career path demonstrates what she often tells medical sciences students: that a well-rounded education in health care can lead to possibilities they might never have imagined. In her case, she didn’t foresee a career outside of clinical practice. Yet before joining UT Health San Antonio, she was program director of the imaging sciences program and chairperson for the Department of Medical Imaging Sciences at Rush University in Chicago.
“The Bachelor of Science in Medical Sciences program really does come at a perfect time,” she said. “Our health care community is coping with unparalleled levels of stress and fatigue due to severe staff shortages among respiratory therapists, clinical laboratory scientists, medical imaging technologists, physician assistants, nurses, physicians and non-clinical health care workers. Offering a broad-scope program like the Bachelor of Science in Medical Sciences program provides the opportunity for career preparation and advancement into graduate programs in the health sciences.”
One of those opportunities could be applying to a master’s program in the School of Health Professions, Dr. Vasquez said. “It’s a win-win either way,” she added.
In addition to her work with the Bachelor of Science in Medical Sciences program, Dr. Vasquez is creating plans for an advanced imaging sciences program with an anticipated launch in fall 2023.
“Medical imaging holds the third-largest group of health care professionals, and it’s used across all stages of the health care process,” Dr. Vasquez said. “Technologists have a large scope of practice. They capture images of the human body for physicians to diagnose, track progression of disease and provide treatment. Therefore, medical imaging is often referred to as the ‘eye’ of medicine.”
Dr. Vasquez specializes in medical sciences curriculum development and research in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) safety. She has served in MRI safety advisory roles for government, industry and policy-making organizations. She has presented nationally and internationally on issues related to MRI safety evaluation of implants and devices. In her role as the chairperson of her prior institution’s college diversity committee, she presented nationally on improving recruitment and retention practices for underrepresented students.
When asked to describe her teaching philosophy, Dr. Vasquez explained her focus on personal growth and learning.
“My teaching role has given me the privilege of meeting aspiring students from all paths of life,” she said. “I say to those who are considering a change, ‘Find your purpose; you have much to offer and look forward to.’ Instead of a teaching philosophy, I’d like to share my learning philosophy: ‘Education is life changing. Every day is different, and I learn something new every day.’”