A health sciences degree program is a type of general program that looks at multiple aspects of the health care industry. You can get an associate's degree from a community college, a bachelor's degree from a university and even earn a graduate or doctoral degree later. Some of the doctors and nurses working in hospitals and facilities today actually earned degrees in health sciences first. You'll find a wide range of jobs that you can get with a bachelor's degree as well as jobs that require a higher level of education.
Working as a laboratory technician is just one of the jobs open to those with a health sciences degree. You can work in a hospital lab or for a medical laboratory that processes blood and tissue samples sent in by doctors working in other facilities. The tests that you run will help doctors diagnose patients and decide on the best course of treatment. Technicians gain a better understanding of medical conditions in college, but they also go through some on the job training. This training teaches them how to look at and test samples as well as process results and write reports.
A bachelor's degree in a health subject can also help you find work as a patient educator. Most hospitals employ patient educators who can talk with patients and help them better understand their overall health conditions. As an educator, you might talk with a patient diagnosed with diabetes about the medications or insulin the doctor prescribed, help the patient find a dietitian who can create a new diet plan and talk with that patient about lifestyle changes. A patient educator can also function like a medical social worker and help patients make appointments with home health care workers or get medical equipment they can use in their homes.
A physician assistant can perform some of the same tasks as a doctor but usually works under the direct supervision of a licensed doctor. Also known as a PA, they usually have an undergrad degree in health science and a degree in physician assisting that can take an extra two years to finish. Their medical knowledge and expertise qualifies them to conduct the initial exams on patients, diagnose those patients and even recommend treatments. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a PA is more than $98,000 a year.
Drug and Alcohol Counselor
Getting a health sciences degree can also help you work as a drug and alcohol counselor. Once you finish your bachelor's degree, you can look at the steps associated with getting a counseling license in your state. You may need a graduate degree in counseling, but some states will let you spend two years working with a licensed counselor in lieu of going back to school. Drug and alcohol counselors often work in rehabilitation centers and offer both individual and group counseling sessions. They help patients learn the skills necessary to abstain from drugs and alcohol.
Many colleges offer health sciences programs for students who want to work in specialized areas of health care. Though some careers are open to those with either an associate's or a bachelor's degree, you may need an advanced health sciences degree to work in other areas like counseling or physician assisting.