Salus University’s Graduate Programs in Biomedicine is proud to offer the University’s first PhD program, welcoming students with a strong commitment to scholarship, leadership and a desire to be on the leading edge not only of scientific exploration and applications, but also of its practical utilization. Salus PhD students come from a variety of backgrounds, as demonstrated in the student profiles below.

Noura Aldossary, PhD '18

Why did you choose the Salus Biomedicine PhD Program?
It was actually based on a recommendation from a senior professor who is also a colleague. At that time, she had a chance to visit the Salus University campus and meet a number of professors there. That visit was to establish an international collaboration with many institutions with the best reputations in the USA and UK.

How did the program complement your current career?
The PhD program at Salus University has equipped me with the essential skills and knowledge in research and teaching. Although I continue to work as teaching staff in King Saud University, I now have more experience and confidence.

How was your experience with the program?
I think it was a wonderful experience on so many levels.

Do you have a message for potential applicants?
I would strongly recommend the PhD program at Salus University and encourage all potential applicants to consider joining Salus University for a supportive and enriching environment. I would advise them to pursue their passion in their field of interest and enjoy every moment during the PhD journey.

Saeed Aljohani, OD, PhD '20

Saeed Aljohani, OD, PhD '20Why did you choose the Salus Biomedicine PhD Program?
I chose the Salus University PhD Program in Biomedicine for three reasons. First, I believe that Salus University has one of the oldest optometry schools in the United States. Therefore, they have elite, leading professors and researchers in many optometric subspecialities. This made it easy for me to decide with whom I wanted to do my PhD research project.

How did the program complement your current career?
I feel so proud about the successful achievements I made during my studies at Salus and after my graduation with a PhD degree. I got my PhD degree 5 months ago and immediately I joined Qassim University as an assistant professor.

How was your experience with the program?
After I got my OD degree in Saudi Arabia in 2014, I came to Salus for two months of training. I was very astonished by the facilities that Salus provides to its students. For instance, the clinical spaces have modern optometric technology, and students always find a lot of spaces to practice and learn. Additionally, during my training, I noticed how nice and friendly Salus’ staff and faculty members were with their students. This was very important to me to consider before choosing my PhD program.

Do you have a message for potential applicants?
Before deciding where you want to do your PhD, consider three crucial aspects:

  • School experience
  • School learning facilities
  • Staff and faculty members support

These three aspects made my decision to choose Salus for my PhD studies.

Robert Andersson, MSc ’10, PhD '18, FAAO

Robert AnderssonWhy did you choose the Salus Biomedicine PhD Program?
I studied for my Optometrist degree at Salus University as an international student. Initially, I chose Salus University because it has deep roots in offering biomedical studies and early clinical exposure in all healthcare programs.

After I graduated in 2010, I started working at Salus University as an adjunct faculty clinical instructor and doing clinical research. Salus' PhD degree was the next natural step for me because I wanted to develop my career as a clinical researcher and pursue an academic career.

How did the program complement your current career?
After I graduated, I started working at Salus University as an assistant professor, and I have continued groundbreaking research projects. Without Salus' PhD studies, I would not have had the needed competency to work at this level.

How was your experience with the program?
Salus’ PhD in Biomedicine program was well designed, and it was suitable for different healthcare professionals. The curriculum was rigorous but well structured, allowing me to work concurrently when studying. This approach offered me a flexible learning experience without a compromised outcome.

Do you have a message for potential applicants?
Doing a PhD degree is hard work but opens an endless amount of career opportunities. It also matters where and what you study because it ultimately determines who you can become.

Brianna Brim, PhD '22, MOT, OTR/L, CPAM, CLIPP

Brianna Brim, MOT, OTR/L, CPAM, CLIPPSalus University Occupational Therapy Assistant Professor

Why did you choose the Salus Biomedicine PhD Program?
I chose the Salus Biomedicine program because of flexible scheduling. The program allowed me to continue working as fieldwork coordinator full-time while pursuing my degree, and the residency requirements allowed for a more flexible path than other similar PhD programs. The design of the program allowed me to have so much flexibility in my research project and how I wanted to delve into it.

How does the program complement your current career?
It gives me the opportunity to continue my professional growth in other areas, while developing my research self as well. I think it also allows me to be more well-rounded.

How has your experience been so far?
The professors and faculty in the program are always willing to discuss and help guide you, which is really a great asset to the program. I was able to secure a wonderful mentor early on who has been great at helping me develop my research question and design, which has been integral for my success up until this point.

Richard Hom, OD, PhD '18

Salus PhD student, Richard HomWhy did you choose the Salus Biomedicine PhD Program?
The Salus Biomedicine PhD program is excellent in focus, rigor, and logistics. I pursued and completed the program even when some people would think I should be retired. I wanted and needed tools, techniques, and skills to perform independent research and thoughtful analysis to extend my active working life. I felt that I had more to give to the profession.

How did the program complement your current career?
I felt confident in pursuing quantitative-oriented projects and collaborating with other professionals' teams for logical, concise, and reliable results.

How was your experience with the program?
The online format gave me some latitude on when I could complete the coursework and writing. I especially appreciate my instructors who offered face-to-face meetings and instruction during scientific conferences. The interaction was a crucial element in finishing the program, and I hope it will continue.

Do you have a message for potential applicants?
I have the following advice for future students:

  • As quickly as possible, upon matriculation, begin to read and scan the literature and narrow no more than three possible topics for the dissertation. Three years may seem a lot, but it isn't. The quicker that you can limit the research question, the more comfortable that the program becomes.
  • If possible, design the study to minimize the impact of IRBs and complex data collection.
  • Use EndNote, Melendey, Zotero etc. The previously mentioned programs help manage and build the reference list for the paper. The reference programs are a time-saver.
  • Attend to the Handbook (if one is available)!
  • Connect with more than one mentor. You may have an on-campus one but also consider an external one. During the final defense, an external mentor or individual may be a member of the defense committee. An external mentor is helpful because they would be more knowledgeable about the dissertation study.
  • Do a trial run of writing a dissertation and verbal defense by applying to any honor program or society requiring a paper and defense submission. This exercise helped me respond to criticism, correct the suggestions submitted to you.
  • If at all possible, try to socialize within the same cohort of your PhD class. Talking with other students in the cohort will give another perspective on the process and can help explain the campus processes.
  • If you have a close relationship or family, they probably don't know what you're going through. Avoid arguing with your loved ones. They probably don't have an idea what you are experiencing.
  • Reach out if necessary to professionals when you are really "low".
  • Attend the graduation, whether virtual or onsite. It is closure, and you get to appreciate the attainment of the degree.
Carolina (Carrie) Yanez, PhD '22, MS ’16, CVRT ’16

Carrie YanezWhy did you choose the Salus Biomedicine PhD Program?
I completed my master’s degree at Salus University and fell in love with the school and faculty. Thus, when I decided to further my education, I contacted the University’s Office of Graduate Programs in Biomedicine and was very pleased with the willingness of the staff and the faculty to help and offer information. Everyone was very kind and supportive, which is something I look for in a school because it creates a very positive learning environment! I also really liked that the students have a lot of freedom in choosing their dissertation topic. This is a unique aspect to this program that I do not think you can find elsewhere. Lastly, I liked that the program is designed to allow students to further their education and continue working simultaneously.

How does the program complement your current career?
I chose to further my education in studying Blindness and Low Vision because I believe in each individual's right to continue living an independent and fulfilling lifestyle regardless of visual impairment. During my studies it became obvious that the number of individuals who are visually impaired is increasing due to longevity and complications of age-related diseases, but not enough research is available on this population, especially related to rehabilitation. As such, I decided that once I completed my master’s program, I would focus on finding ways to help individuals who are visually impaired continue living as they see fit, as well as raise awareness of the resources available. Research on the rehabilitation process for individuals who are visually impaired can assist in identifying the best compensatory strategies, assistive devices and/or ways to heighten sensory awareness to enhance independence and quality of life.

When do you expect you will complete the program and how has your experience been so far?
I am scheduled to complete the PhD program in Biomedicine by 2020. Thus far, I have found the program to be quite challenging but very rewarding. I feel I have learned a lot in just two semesters both academically and personally. The professors and administration have been very supportive, helpful and easily accessible; the dean is also actively involved and communicates with his students which is hard to find at the graduate level.

Do you have a message for potential applicants?
I would suggest that any potential applicants contact the department’s dean and discuss the program. It was my conversation with the dean that made my decision to enroll in the program much easier. I believe that any career goal is achievable. However, keep in mind that this program is primarily online and has numerous requirements. Additionally, the expectations from professors are also very high. The academic component is very challenging but with good time management and organizational skills, it is doable!