Health Science

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Dr. Shelly Fetchen DiCesaro (chair) | Aimee Bosley | Dr. Jodi Dusi | Lisa Finnegan | Mindi Fisher | Jeff Giovannucci | Dr. Scott Hargraves | Dr. Chris T. Harman | Mary A. Hart | Dr. Karen Hjerpe | Dr. Ayanna Lyles | Jenni Morrison | Dr. Jamie Weary

Purpose and Programs

The Department of Health Science offers degree programs in gerontology, health science, radiologic technology and physical therapist assistant.  The department is housed in Hamer Hall.


The field of gerontology is expanding as the number of older Americans continues to increase, quickly outpacing other segments of the population. With 37 million Americans currently over the age of 65 and a projected 71.5 million older citizens by 2030, our society is facing crucial issues about aging which will impact the health and welfare of every single American. Implications for academic study and training in gerontology are enormous. The study of aging will be of critical importance during the next century as the baby boomers pass into the ranks of the older generations. California University of Pennsylvania offers a B.S. in Gerontology to meet these needs. A minor in gerontology and an aging specialist certificate are also available. 

Physical Therapist Assistant

The mission of the physical therapist assistant program is to promote the ethics, character, career and success of the physical therapist assistant who will provide physical therapy services to patients/clients across the lifespan under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.  The PTA program seeks to prepare students to assume a professional and active role within the physical therapy community. The program seeks to: 

  1. Prepare the graduates to provide appropriate physical therapy services in an ethical, legal and professional manner under the direction and supervision of the licensed physical therapist. 
  2. Provide students with a quality education of contemporary practice taught by highly qualified faculty, proper allocation of resources and excellent clinical experiences. 
  3. Advance the recognition of the field of physical therapy and the role of the PTA within that field through community service. 
  4. Promote the importance of continued personal and professional development through life-long learning.

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at California University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email:; website:

Careers in Gerontology

As the number of older people in our society grows, there is an increasing need for professionals specializing in gerontology. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports job growth in several occupations related to gerontology. For instance, employment of medical and health service managers is projected to grow 17 percent over the period 2014 through 2024, which is much faster than the average for all national occupations. 

Variety is the best word to describe jobs in gerontology. The bachelor's degree in gerontology prepares students to pursue graduate education in gerontology or a related discipline or to work with older adults in settings such as:

  • Long-term care facilities;
  • Retirement communities;
  • Senior housing;
  • Federal, state and local government offices on aging;
  • Home healthcare and hospice agencies;
  • Senior centers;
  • Adult day services;
  • Protective services;
  • Care management agencies;
  • Business and industry;
  • Leisure programs; and 
  • Health promotion programs. 

Careers in PTA

Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) work as part of a team to provide physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of the physical therapist. PTAs implement selected components of patient/client interventions (treatment), obtain data related to the interventions provided, and make modifications in selected interventions either to progress the patient/client as directed by the physical therapist or to ensure patient/client safety and comfort (