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UIndy’s Online Health Science Programs Help Non-Traditional Student Earn Two Graduate Degrees

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Cam Hardin ’23 is a registered dietitian who manages 20 registered dietitians across the country. As if that doesn’t keep her busy enough, Hardin is also pursuing a dual degree in the Master of Aging Studies and Doctor of Health Science (DHSc) programs at UIndy.

Hardin’s team at Vida Health, a virtual healthcare company, counsels patients who have multiple chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol via a telehealth portal.

“We do fantastic work and have begun to publish our findings to demonstrate what we are achieving,” Hardin said proudly.

Her journey to the UIndy Aging Studies and DHSc programs at UIndy was non-traditional. Fourteen years after earning a bachelor’s degree in English and journalism, Hardin pursued a graduate certificate in dietetics.

“I originally planned to become a diabetes educator, but instead, I was employed by a Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) and fell in love with making home visits to older adults to solve their nutrition concerns. I never looked back,” Hardin said.

She completed all the required coursework for a master’s in nutrition at Mount Mary University, but couldn’t complete her thesis because her husband had a serious illness.

“Several years after my husband passed, I looked for another program, this time online, to pursue a master’s degree in gerontology. I found UIndy and fell in love with the organization of the program and admissions process,” Hardin said. “I desperately wanted my master’s degree, not just for myself, strangely enough, but because I knew how happy and proud it would make my father. After attending and completing most of the courses in the aging studies program, I decided to complete the dual degree – combining my aging studies degree with a doctorate in health science – because it seemed as if it were a natural progression for me, and I knew my father would love calling me ‘Dr. Cam.’”

Hardin has been able to combine her work at Vida with her doctoral dissertation.

“At Vida, we are doing amazing things in the telehealth field, especially in diabetes care,” she said. “My dissertation is a qualitative study seeking to learn more about the experiences of older adults with type 2 diabetes who use insulin pumps.”

Hardin is passionate about adding to the body of literature about older adults and diabetes. She is also interested in conducting research on the quality of life for older adults with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes in various settings, from home to skilled care.

“I adore school and learning, and UIndy makes it — well, not easy, but uncomplicated — by having supportive educators and staff as well as a curriculum that is well planned,” Hardin said. “The new learning management system, the fabulous library staff, and yearly orientations for the doctoral program make attending UIndy and completing courses interesting and fun.”

 “I cannot say enough about how hard the faculty work to ensure we, as students, learn all that we can,” Hardin said. “My only regret is that my father passed away at the beginning of the pandemic, so he will miss seeing me graduate. I know he will be there in spirit.”