A health sciences degree program builds a basic foundation for the student to continue beyond the bachelor's degree to professional or graduate education in a healthcare profession. The bachelor's degree also qualifies the graduate for various entry level positions in health care. A health sciences bachelor's degree is appropriate for the student who wishes to enter a healthcare profession but is not sure of the particular specialty to pursue. The program provides preparation for professional or graduate school training in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, healthcare administration, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, physician assistant studies and other related professions.
The curriculum of most health science programs consists of the liberal arts requirements in the first two years, and allows the student to concentrate on a professional track or concentration in the last two years. Examples of concentration areas are: global health, biomedical research, public health, health services management, environmental health, gerontology, medical sales and fitness management.
Regardless of what track or concentration the student has chosen, there are fundamental learnings and understandings that will inform and broaden the perspective of all healthcare professionals. The five electives described below will be useful for all healthcare careers.
Psychology of Human Relations
Courses related to the psychology of human relations will examine the psychological principles that underlie human relationships. Human relations are basic to our daily lives, and an understanding of why we behave in certain ways to others will help us develop more effective relationships both at home and at work. This understanding is basic to developing communication, listening and conflict resolution skills, which are particularly relevant for those in management and leadership roles.
Helpful courses will provide an understanding of barriers to effective communication such as stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination, and aid skill development in strategies for improving understanding of others.
Contemporary Social Problems
This Sociology elective course looks at the different social problems in various sectors of United States today. There are numerous social problems that have an impact on public health. These include abortion, age discrimination, domestic abuse, eating disorders, environmental pollution, homelessness, obesity, poverty, substance abuse, to name a few. One college course listed 122 social problems and news topics in the twenty-first century. A student pursuing a public health career would need to be knowledgeable about these problems and intervention measures to alleviate those affected. All health care workers need some understanding of how social problems affect the health of individuals.
Global Environmental Public Health
Environmental pollution and climate change are looming threats to public health, and every healthcare worker needs to be aware of these potential health issues. An elective course on global environmental health will examine the scientific understanding of causes and the possible approaches to control the major environmental health problems internationally. The course may introduce the student to the methods used by environmental scientists to study and measure toxicants and the potential health effects of exposure to pollutants on children and other vulnerable populations.
Introduction to this challenging health field may attract some students to make a career of environmental health.
Health Information Technology
For the healthcare industry, the handling of different types of data is a gigantic task, not only to record accurately the millions of input daily, but to make the information available in usable form to healthcare professionals of different types and levels of practice. One example of an introductory course is provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Many health science graduates will move into management positions in healthcare or related organizations. Those who go on to graduate study such as the MSN nurse will often end up in leadership positions. Developing leadership skills is an art that can be learned, and will be useful in healthcare work and even in personal life.
New leadership programs shift away from a top-down leadership style to one that is based on trust and sense. It supports relationships between people with differences of opinion. Empathy, humility and courage characterize this new type of leader who is effective in team leadership.
For basic exposure to the healthcare industry and the career opportunities provided, a health sciences program can be extremely useful. The flexibility of most programs allows the student to explore, select electives and to tailor a course path to a Bachelor's degree that fits his or her specific interests and strengths.