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Our Mission

Funeral directors are health care professionals who serve others during a time of loss, pain and grief. The Program of Mortuary Science's mission is to skillfully combine the study of behavioral, physical and applied sciences for the goal of preparing graduates for careers as knowledgeable, skilled and innovative funeral service professionals. Program graduates will be prepared to serve bereaved members of their communities in a manner that is proficient, dignified and caring.

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Program News: Update Michael LuBrant, Program Director

Program News: Update Michael LuBrant, Program Director

January 5, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

My hope that you are all enjoying a very happy New Year, and that time spent with family and friends over this holiday season was enjoyable.  In another week, students will be returning to campus for the start of spring semester classes.  Before we know it, May will arrive and we will be holding our commencement exercises.  How quickly time does pass by!

We had a very busy fall here in the program.  One event we hosted that I would like to mention is the networking fair we held in early October.  We had 17 firms from across Minnesota, as well as South Dakota and Wisconsin, reserve a table at the Campus Club for the purpose meeting and greeting our students.  The feedback we received from the event was positive, and we plan to host another networking activity again this coming spring.  Please keep an eye out on our website (www.mortuaryscience.umn.edu) for a complete listing of upcoming events and activities.  

Some of you may be aware that 2017 is a re-accreditation year for our program.  In September, we will be visited by a Site Visit Team from our accrediting agency, the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE).  Site visits happen every seven years, and are required in order for us to maintain our specialized ABFSE accreditation.  In preparation for our visit, we are working on our Self-Study report, a fairly lengthy document that considers the means by which we comply with the accreditation Standards set forth by the ABFSE.  Stakeholders in this process not only include our faculty, students, and Advisory Board members, but also all of you who value our program and are concerned with its success.  

As part of this review process, we welcome any questions or comments you would like to share with us about our program.  Comments may be sent to my attention at mpl@umn.edu.  A complete overview of the accreditation process, as well as a link to the accreditation Standards, can be found at the ABFSE website:  http://www.abfse.org/html/committee.html  Our last site visit took place in 2011.  During that review, the Site Visit Team discussed several program strengths, and no concerns relating to our compliance with the Standards were noted.  Additionally, we received a special commendation from the Committee on Accreditation for the comprehensiveness and overall quality of our Self-Study report.  We are working hard to have similar success with our re-accreditation process this year.

As many of you know, we place students at clinical sites throughout Minnesota as part of their experiential learning activities.  We are fortunate to have over 80 funeral homes (and counting!) willing to accept and mentor our students.  Prior to clinical placement, we are required by the ABFSE to make site inspections to ensure proper training of preceptors, compliance with required safety protocols (as required of OSHA, etc.), and adequate resources for students’ learning.  Whereas faculty members Angela Woosley and Giselle Wynia work with students and preceptors to set up and monitor the course and students’ completion of its requirements, I conduct the mandatory pre-placement inspections.  Visiting funeral homes and meeting with our preceptors is one of the parts of my job I enjoy the most.  I log in excess of 2,500 miles each year between site visit inspections and MFDA District Meetings.  (My 2001 Buick LeSabre now has 305,000 miles on it, and is still going strong!)  During my inspections and meetings, preceptors share with me their questions, thoughts, joys, concerns - and yes, occasional frustrations - about their work in funeral service in general, and interactions with our students, in particular.  

I always learn something new each time I visit clinical sites to do these trainings and inspections.  And one valuable benefit to funeral homes, I am told, is that I sometimes find things that need to be remedied prior to a state inspection.  I very much appreciate how we are able to work with preceptors in a collaborative manner for the betterment of our profession.  Perhaps you have never had a clinical student before.  If serving as a preceptor and clinical placement site is something you would like to learn more about, please let me know.  

One of the things a lot of funeral directors have wanted to discuss with me in recent years is their concern about filling workforce vacancies.  Minnesota currently has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, which of course makes it increasingly difficult for employers to find workers in all fields to fill job openings.  As the state’s population ages, more job openings are expected as current workers retire.   

Over the past decade or so, we have witnessed a number of changes that are impacting the labor force in funeral service.  These changes include funeral home mergers and consolidations, a decrease in next-generation family members entering the profession (today only abut 10% of children of owners enter the family business), and perhaps most significant, changes in how young people today view work in the context of larger life goals and professional aspirations.  
 
I think most people would agree that work in our profession is a vocation, that is to say, a calling.  Unless you have a deep passion for work serving families during the most difficult time of their lives, chances are good that you probably will not remain in this profession for a long period of time.  

Finding the best individuals to recruit into our profession who have this calling – which to say possess the heart of a funeral director - is a very important task that is by no means easy to accomplish.  Retaining outstanding employees is likewise also challenging, especially today when there is intense competition for workers who are intelligent, articulate, and highly motivated.  

Practitioners in funeral service are deeply concerned about the need to fill openings – both current and future – in our profession.  We must therefore continue to work together to recruit, educate, and retain the very best people possible to serve our communities as funeral service professionals.  

As you may recall, back in 2001, prior to the start of the Great Recession, we also witnessed a shortage in workers to fill job openings in funeral service.  At that time, and at the behest of MFDA, I conducted a state-wide workforce survey that considered issues of education, split licensure, removal / transfer personnel credentialing, and salary and work conditions, in the context of professional practice.  Today, some practitioners wonder to what extent changing current licensing requirements might be helpful in addressing labor shortages.  I plan to perform another practitioner survey this year, with the goal of gathering data to assist MFDA, the Health Department, and other stakeholders in developing policy aimed at addressing workforce concerns in Minnesota.  Please keep an eye out for an e-mail from me requesting your participation in this research effort.  I also welcome your comments and questions, either by e-mail or phone (612-624-3980).

On behalf of all of us here at the program, we wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.  

Sincerely,  
Michael LuBrant

 

 

Staff Announcement

Staff Announcement

Giselle Wynia Appointed Teaching Specialist

Wynia photoWe are pleased to announce that Giselle Wynia has joined our Program faculty as Teaching Specialist, effective July 22.  Giselle began work for us last August, assisting with advising and clerical responsibilities while Student Adviser Robyn Meunier was on maternity leave.  Giselle continued on as a teaching assistant during fall and spring semesters (2016-2017), helping with classes in embalming and restorative art theory and lab.  Following a national search process, Giselle was selected by the search committee to fill an opening in the Program for a Teaching Specialist.  Her job responsibilities will now include teaching coursework in embalming, restorative art, and human anatomy theory and lab; performing student advising; and providing support for both Clinical Rotation education and clerical-related activities. Giselle is a licensed mortician and has worked in funeral service for the past decade.  Prior to earning her Bachelor of Science Degree in Mortuary Science in 2007 here at the University of Minnesota, she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Hamline University in Anthropology, with a minor in Criminal Justice and a Certificate in Forensic Sciences.  She is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Human Anatomy and Physiology Instruction.  Please join us in extending a very warm welcome to Giselle as she begins her teaching work for the Program this coming Fall.  Sincerely – Michael LuBrant, Program Director

 

 

 

Why Students Chose Mortuary Science

  • “I was a social worker in a hospital, doing grief counseling and after care. Then, when my father died, I experienced the funeral service profession from the other side. The experience was really positive and had a great impact on me, and I realized this is what I’d like to go back to school for.” —Colleen V.
  • “I was a social worker in a hospital, doing grief counseling and after care. Then, when my father died, I experienced the funeral service profession from the other side. The experience was really positive and had a great impact on me, and I realized this is what I’d like to go back to school for.” —Colleen V.
  • “The rewards of helping people made me select Mortuary Science. It is a great career—there are so many good aspects to it and it offers so many options. Also, my family is involved with the funeral business and someday I would like to own my business.” —Jeff H.
  • “I chose to major in Mortuary Science because I was interested in doing something in the medical field. I also learned about the funeral services industry because my boy friend's father owns a funeral home. The more I learned about it, the more I realized that death is as much a part of life as birth is, and this is a field I’d like to work in.” —Amanda S.
  • “I decided to get into the Program of Mortuary Science after I experienced a personal loss. I realized that I wanted to help people during the hardest time in their lives—when they had no idea what to do. It is very rewarding to do something good for people in a time like this. Also, more and more women are getting into this field; they seem well-suited because care-giving and compassion come naturally to them.” —Shannon H.
  • "I was a Biology teacher for fifteen years; then I decided I wanted to do something else. I am a people-oriented person and I felt that being in the funeral services industry was one way I could help people and provide a valuable service to society." —Andy J.

Job Opportunites in Funeral Service

MN licensed funeral director or Intern

Northfield Funeral Homes

Licensed Funeral Director/Embalmer

Carlsen Funeral Home and Crematory

Assistant Mortician/Apprentice

Royal Funeral Home, Incorporated

Mortuary Science Student Intern

Cremation Society of Minnesota