Health care is an important industry, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects most health care professions to show excellent growth through the year 2018. Educational facilities from small private vocational schools to the best universities offer programs in various aspects of health care. Two overarching disciplines are health sciences, the broad study of human health, and health care management, which focuses on the administration of health care institutions.
Undergraduate Health Sciences Degrees
Undergraduate degrees in the health sciences may be used to satisfy the prerequisites for medical school, or to prepare students for any number of careers as health care practitioners. A baccalaureate in health sciences, combined with a graduate degree in health care management or an MBA, is a sound qualification for most management positions in health care. Courses in this major will include a foundation of general science and communication/English courses, as well as core subjects including anatomy or physiology, health program design and epidemiology.
Graduate Degrees and Careers in Health Sciences
Undergraduate degrees in health sciences are often used as preparation for other degrees and careers. Graduate degrees are more specific, and lead to three broad career tracks. Careers in health promotion and disease prevention include jobs as a a public or workplace health educator, wellness coordinator or grant writer. The environmental and occupational safety and health track includes occupational safety managers, environmental health consultants and government environmental investigators. Those with graduate degrees in health sciences can also pursue academic specializations as researchers, epidemiologists and health sciences educators.
Health Care Management
All health care facilities, from small-town clinics to the largest HMOs, require trained, capable managers. Historically those positions were filled by health care professionals who had acquired management degrees, or by applicants with business or management degrees and an interest in health care. In recent years, the industry's unique requirements have led to degree programs specific to the management of health care facilities. The curriculum for these programs includes courses such as health system analysis, health systems planning and design, and risk management and insurance.
Health Care Management Careers
A graduate degree in health care management, or an undergraduate degree in combination with a graduate degree in business or management, is the fundamental requirement for most positions in this field. Hospitals are the largest employer in the field. A typical career path begins with managing a small department, and those with the right skills can advance to assistant administrator, department head or perhaps even CEO positions. Employment in this field also includes HMOs, consulting firms, nursing agencies and large medical practices.
- BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook: Medical and Health Services Managers
- BLS Occupational Employment Statistics: Medical and Health Services Managers
- Cal State Fullerton: BS in Health Sciences
- Purdue University: General Health Sciences Undergraduate Major
- University of Connecticut: Health Care Management Undergraduate Major
- Harvard University: MS Degree in Health Care Management
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