Health science is an umbrella term that covers a wide array of disciplines. In general, it is defined as a field in which pure scientific knowledge is applied to the clinical and practical care of living beings, including both humans and animals. Multiple occupations within the field are available; some require more advanced education and specialized training, while in others a general health science degree is sufficient.
Health Sciences and Clinical Laboratory Science
Occupations within clinical laboratory sciences include cytotechnology, histological technology, medical laboratory technology (which includes technicians and technologists) and blood bank technology. Of these, cytotechnologists, medical technologists and blood bank technologists require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Medical laboratory technicians must have an associate degree. All of these occupations may require additional training and/or certificates. The focus of the work is on obtaining and analyzing laboratory specimens to screen for or diagnose disease. Salaries range from $31,630 annually for phlebotomists to $60,520 for medical laboratory technologists, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Health Sciences and Patient Education
Patients and caregivers need education to make decisions about health and to manage their medical conditions. The patient and/or health educator plays a major role in this process, helping people understand their options and the costs of medical care, as well as how to develop healthy habits or self-manage a disease such as diabetes. Some educators work one-on-one with patients, while others offer group classes. A bachelor’s degree is usually required. The average salary was $51,960 in 2015, according to the BLS.
Health Sciences and Public/Community Health
A master’s degree is usually required for public health and community health occupations; in some cases, specialized training in nursing or medicine may also be necessary. Public health workers may work in environmental or occupational health, maternal/child health, epidemiology or management. Other public health disciplines include emergency services management (including disaster planning) and more specialized fields such as social work or drug and alcohol counseling. Salaries vary widely according to the individual discipline.
Health Sciences and Writing
Research in all health science fields is exploding, but in many cases, it must be translated for the general public. A health science writer provides that service by taking scientific writing and putting it into standard English. Health writers may specialize in a particular area such as medicine or cover various topics such as chemistry, biology, genetics and bioengineering. The writer may work for an organization such as a magazine, newspaper or university, or freelance. Health science writers create articles for newspapers, magazine articles, press releases, develop newsletters, radio and television scripts, and may also write textbooks, information pamphlets or encyclopedia entries. Salaries vary by specialty and work setting.
Health Sciences and Engineering
Biomedical engineering combines engineering and medicine to help solve medical problems. Bioengineering could include the development of artificial limbs or life support apparatus, lasers for medical treatments and surgery, or the adaptation of computers for medical use. Occupations in this field include engineers who actually develop and test new inventions and technicians who install, maintain, repair or calibrate the equipment used in development or post-production sales. A bachelor’s degree is usually required for a biomedical engineer, although an associate degree may be acceptable for a biomedical technician. The average annual salary for biomedical engineers in 2015 was $86,220, according to the BLS.
A health science degree provides a broad base for a career in this and related fields. It may also be a stepping stone to a more advanced career such as medicine. The field is so broad that almost anyone can find something to fit.