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Benedictine University's Master of Science in Clinical Exercise Physiology (MS CEP) program now offers degree completion in 15 months on a full-time basis. The MS CEP program is designed in accordance with the American College of Sports Medicine for certification as a Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist (ACSM-CEP). Exercise physiologists employed in the field teach clinical coursework to better prepare students for the expectations of professional practice. Through this coursework students develop the skills & qualifications to work in the prevention of cardiovascular, pulmonary and other lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Students improve decision-making skills, learn to critically analyze the literature & demonstrate the ability to safely assess physiological performance of patients. The program’s curriculum also includes two internships for students to acquire 600 hours of hands-on clinical experience and training in the rehabilitation of individuals who have experienced problems related to chronic diseases.
After graduating from college, Jennifer Green knew she might enjoy working in a cardiac diagnostics and rehabilitation facility. She also knew, however, that she would need a graduate degree to reach her goal.
What she did not know was that a Master of Science in Clinical Exercise Physiology degree from Benedictine University would open other doors for her, doors to a new career path she has happily embraced.
Green, who earned her master’s degree from Benedictine University in 2010, is an exercise physiologist/information specialist at the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD), an information clearinghouse that promotes physical activity for all people, regardless of their ability level.
The Portage, Mich., native speaks at national conferences and works closely with experts in the field and physical therapists to create programs that encourage physical activity among a widely diverse population.
Working at NCPAD is a major leap from where she thought she would be at this point in her young career.
“I always imagined myself in cardiac rehab or a diagnostics department within a hospital or cardiology office,” she said. “I knew I wanted to be successful in my career and was well aware that I wouldn’t be able to get where I wanted to be without a graduate degree.
“I wanted an opportunity to learn more about my field and work with prominent professionals and researchers who were and still are achieving great things in the field of exercise physiology and health promotion,” Green added.
“I interviewed at several schools and primarily chose Benedictine because of its smaller class sizes and dedicated staff.”
The graduate program in exercise physiology at Benedictine University came highly recommended from one of her undergraduate professors. It did not take Green long to understand why.
“Everyone at the University was so helpful from the time I began my application to when I graduated,” she said. “After my interview, I knew this was where I belonged and I would be provided opportunities that I wouldn’t receive anywhere else.”
Those opportunities came at the cost of hard work and rigorous study, however.
“I can honestly say I have never worked harder than I did at Benedictine,” Green said. “But I loved every minute of it. The classes were challenging, but in a stimulating way. They made me think and challenged me in new ways.
“Benedictine has a phenomenal group of staff and professors who truly want you to succeed, and that is one of the most important factors in choosing a University,” she added. “The level of education you receive is above par, and you truly are given opportunities you won’t find anywhere else.
Once Green’s classroom work at Benedictine was completed, she was hesitant to intern in a specialty area in which she had already gained some experience. She was looking for a new challenge.
Benedictine University M.S. in Clinical Exercise Physiology program and research coordinator Regina Schurman remembered a contact she had made at a workshop two years earlier and steered Green to NCPAD.
“I met the associate director of research at NCPAD in 2007 and was so impressed with the work that her center did with people with disabilities that I had asked her for her business card so that I could follow up in the future regarding internship possibilities,” Schurman said.
“One of the best parts of my position is being able to link students with the resources that will take their professional development to the next level,” Schurman added.
The internship led to a full-time position for Green.
“I never would have had such an opportunity if I had not attended Benedictine,” Green said. “Through that experience, my future goals changed dramatically.”
Green emerged from Benedictine University’s graduate program in exercise physiology not only with new direction and new goals, but also with a new respect for her chosen profession.
“I think the most important thing I learned during my degree work was that there are endless possibilities in this field,” she said. “This is important to know because healthcare professionals such as exercise physiologist are really the leaders in preventative medicine.
“If we can constantly find new areas to emerge into, we can be important leaders in the fight against disease and obesity in particular,” Green said.