What is Health Science? Exploring Health Science Training & Careers
What is health science?
The definition of health science is the study of the well-being, health, or medical care for human beings or those who are sick or unhealthy. Those who study and work in the health sciences field learn skills and fundamentals for taking care of people in a wide range of medical specialties. While students may be introduced to what health science is in high school, some students start their health science studies at a community college like Texarkana College’s Health Science program to launch their career.
What can I study in health sciences?
Health science is a very broad field and offers a wide range of science courses to study starting in high school and continuing as college students pursue an undergraduate degree program or graduate degree program. Students can study different types of health science courses depending on their educational level:
- High school students can begin taking science courses that introduce health-related principles such as:
- medical terminology (learning medical words and language)
- anatomy and physiology (learning about the human body)
- nutrition and wellness (learning about healthy foods and living)
- Psychology (learning about how people think and feel)
- Introductory biology (learning about the makeup of life on earth)
- Pathophysiology (learning about illnesses and diseases)
- Introductory chemistry (learning about the stuff things are made of)
- Introduction to health sciences (introducing health sciences field)
- public health (learning about the well-being of a large group of people)
- even some entry-level nursing classes, depending on the high school
Some high schools offer health science programs that enable students to complete practicums in human services, health informatics, nursing, pharmacology, and even complete entry-level industry certifications to be a Medical Laboratory Technician, Phlebotomy Technician, Certified Nurse Aide and more. These trainings can be beneficial as high school graduates prepare to attend college; they allow students to explore the specific health care specialties that may interest them later on.
College / University / Undergraduate
So, what is health science like for college students? It builds upon basic knowledge introduced in high school and instills principles for entry-level career options. Health science is typically offered as a general degree to expose college students to the variety of fields and prerequisite classes for graduate school. For those who know they are interested in the various fields, but are not sure what they want to study, health science means an opportunity to explore career options. If a college student is not looking to complete a graduate-level degree program and wants a health science degree that leads to a quick job after graduation, they might take classes to become a:
- Pharmacy technology
- Emergency Medical Technology
- Radiology Technology
- Medical Laboratory Sciences
- Dental Hygienist or Assistant
- Physical therapy assistant
- EKG Technician
- Anesthesia Technician
- Cardiovascular Technician
- Veterinary Technician
- Pharmaceutical Sales
College students are able to study more rigorous science courses to count toward undergraduate health science degrees and/or as prerequisites for graduate-level health science programs such as medical school or dental school. Common college health science graduate prerequisite classes that students take include:
- college-level anatomy and physiology with lab components,
- general biology
- medical terminology
- Pathophysiology (diseases)
- organic chemistry
- health policy
- Social wor
- developmental behavior and psychology
- clinical psychology, and more.
Undergraduate College students may also complete shadowing, volunteering, or entrance exams if they are trying to pursue admission to a graduate school or school of professional training.
Graduate School / Professional Training
What is health science like for graduate students? For college graduates who want to continue their training and pursue a professional health sciences degree, health science means applying for admission into a graduate program like a masters degree or a doctoral degree, like medical school.
Once admitted, students in a graduate program would study methods more specific to the area they show interest in such as medicine, nursing, dentistry, physical therapy, biomedical science, psychology, public health, or physicians assistant school to name a few. Some example health science graduate classes include:
- Clinical Methods and Laboratory
- Practicum in Clinical Psychology
- Dissertation Research
- Integrated Medicine: Health to Disease
- Fundamentals of Biomedical Sciences
- Foundations of Clinical Reasoning
- Cancer Biology
- Clincal Epidemiology
- Advanced Clinical Nutrition
- Pediatric Nutrition
Post-Doc / Residency Training
Some of the advanced health science professionals are required to complete additional training after they graduate from their graduate program with a masters or doctoral degree. This training may be called post-doc or residency, and most often pertains to doctors. In order for a general physician to become specialized in internal medicine, cardiology, gastroenterology, neurology, emergency medicine, etc., they must complete a residency training at a teaching hospital to earn this title and credential from an advanced medical provider.
What kind of jobs can I get in health sciences?
There are a wide range of careers and jobs you can get in health sciences.
Health professionals are always in need to work with patients and provide care and therapeutic services to improve individuals’ quality of life. Here are some clinical career paths that work directly with patients:
- doctors (medical physicians),
- physicians assistant,
- Nurse practitioners,
- physical therapists,
- Psychologists and Counselors,
- Medical Assistants
- Radiology technologists, MRI or CT technicians
- EKG Technicians
- Pharmacy Technicians
- Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs)
- Nuclear medicine technologists
- Dental assistants,
- Dialysis technicians
There are also health professionals who do not provide medical care or treatment to patients, but may work with providers to offer resources, educate the community, and assist in the business needs of the health care industry. Some examples of non-clinical careers in health care are:
- health care administrators,
- Medical administrative assistants,
- public health educators
- Pharmaceutical sales representative
We explain more on careers with a health science degree here: https://www.texarkanacollege.edu/careers-with-a-health-science-degree/
But the job title isn’t everything, there’s a real ethical and moral value to a career in the health sciences field.
Why is health science important?
The health sciences field is important because its primary purpose is maintaining the well-being of mankind. The more advances that are made in health sciences and medicine, the more the human species is able to heal one another and create longer lifespans than previously possible. If you or a loved one gets sick, you need to know that there’s someone trained with skills to work with patients and available tools to make you better.
Without the field of health care, humans would die off rapidly, and we wouldn’t be able to have the freedom to explore our world without fear of germs, diseases, injuries, or physical ailments that require treatment to keep us alive. There are still places in the world that have minimal access to proper health care, and the growth of the health sciences field can improve the quality of life for people in third-world countries who don’t currently have quality health care systems.
Why it’s a smart choice to study health sciences
1. Always have a job
There many not be any other job in higher demand than those in health care. If the pandemic showed us anything, it’s that our health professionals will always have a job regardless of the circumstances. If you’re interested in a secure future, health sciences is a great field to start.
2. Flexible career location options
Medical doctors, dentists, psychologists, pharmacists, you name the health professional, and they are often needed everywhere. If you’re interested in a field that will allow you to live anywhere and always have a lucrative job, health care is for you.
3. Financial security
It is well known that many health professionals, namingly the graduate level and doctoral level providers, make a substantial salary. It can take a few years to complete the training and education requirements, but if you stay committed for the long-term, you could potentially make a salary that would set you up for life. If you’re not interested in the long-term schooling required for the graduate level professional careers, you can still make a great living as a technologist, technician, or nurse doing your part to care for those who are sick.
4. Collaborate to Solve Important Problems
It’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot of things in the world, but the main industry it affected (of course) was health care. We’ve made it through the pandemic because of the hard work, collaboration, and problem solving efforts of health professionals from around the globe. As a health professional, you can have an impact in solving important issues for many people, maybe even the entire world.
5. Help others during difficult times
If you’re considering health care, you may also have the desire to help others. There are many careers that enable you to help people, but often the most recognized for caring for others is the health sciences field. Whether you’re teaching a kid how to properly floss their teeth or performing a life-saving procedure on someone who was in a car accident, health care provides many opportunities for you to help people in some of the most influential moments of their lives.
6. Learn something every day
If you get bored easily, or don’t like for each day to be the same boring routine, then a career in health sciences may interest you. Every moment of every day as a health professional can be different based on the career path you follow and the types of patients you interact with. At the end of the day, many of the health sciences graduates are scientists and learners, so they are constantly learning new skills, tools, resources, and diagnoses to utilize when helping patients or sharing knowledge with their colleagues.
What skills do I need to have to study health sciences?
- Hard Skills
- USMLE Board Exams
- Soft Skills
- Friendly demanor
- Strong stomach
- Physical fitness (very mobile job) / Stamina
- Critical thinking
- Problem Solving
- Good Communication
- Detail oriented
Does a career in health sciences sound like something for you?
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