EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Provo university hopes to reduce shortage of mental health practitioners

Aug 15, 2022, 3:48 PM | Updated: 3:55 pm
Provo university...
Campus of Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in Provo. (Tyler Anderson)
(Tyler Anderson)

PROVO, Utah — A little-known university in Provo held its graduation ceremony this weekend. And it could be that, one day, you’ll visit one of the graduates at your doctor’s office. It wasn’t BYU or UVU, but the Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions.

“We were organized officially in June of 1998. We are an exclusive graduate health care education institution,” said Richard Nielsen, the founding president and CEO.

“We’re smaller,” President Nielsen said as he described the Provo university. “We’re not a BYU. Our student population right now is around 1500.”

Provo university graduates first class of counselors

This year for the first time, RMU graduated a class from it’s counseling program, which they began offering a couple of years ago. The program offers masters degrees in school counseling and mental health counseling.

President Nielsen pointed out that “it’s a great time for us to be offering mental health education and school counseling because of the shortage in the state of Utah of mental health practitioners.”

According to the Utah Department of Health and Human Services, Salt Lake, Summit, and Tooele Counties are all considered to have shortages in mental health professionals.

Nielsen said that about half of RMU’s students are already practicing as nurses or other professionals at a bachelor’s or master’s degree level. They come to RMU to transition to the doctoral level. The other half of the student population is made up of more traditional college students who live on campus and study full time.

The Class of 2022 had 166 graduates in nursing, occupational therapy, speech language pathology, physical therapy, and doctorates of medical science.

“We had 1200 people in attendance at the Utah County Convention Center,” Nielsen explained. “It was the best graduation we’ve ever had.”

Global outreach for Provo university

President Nielsen spoke to KSL NewsRadio just a few hours before he headed to the airport for Malawi, Africa.

“One of the things we offer at Rocky Mountain University is a global outreach program. We offer a global outreach program for our physician assistant students in Baja, Mexico every year. … and we take about 35 students and 5 or 6 faculty to Malawi, Africa every year.

“We go for about three weeks. Our students get to work in third world hospitals and clinics. We’re also building some clinics over there right now.”

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Provo university hopes to reduce shortage of mental health practitioners