Choosing an Online Bachelor's Degree in Health Sciences
Prospective students have many factors to consider when choosing an online health science bachelor's degree, including the program's cost, the school's transfer policies, and the program's length. These factors can all shape student experiences. By researching the following areas, prospective students can find the right programs to meet their professional goals.
What Is Health Science?
Health sciences explore human health and disease, encompassing the promotion of health, the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, and research into human health. It also covers diverse areas like medicine, public health, pharmacy, rehabilitation, and health administration.
Within the broad field of health sciences, professionals can specialize in patient-facing clinical work, research, or the business side of healthcare. For example, health sciences professionals who specialize in a clinical area may work as nurses, physician assistants, or physical therapists. In the research subfield, health sciences professionals work as medical laboratory technicians or research health scientists. On the business side, administrative roles -- like healthcare administrator or executive -- often require a background in health sciences.
Health science professionals work in hospitals, doctor's offices, nursing homes, and laboratories. By addressing human health from every angle, health sciences can improve health outcomes for patients of all ages.
A bachelor's in health sciences blends coursework and labs to prepare students for healthcare jobs or for graduate study. The degree emphasizes both clinical and administrative abilities, setting healthcare professionals up for advanced careers.
What Will I Learn in an Online Bachelor's of Health Sciences Program?
- Healthcare Law and Ethics: Students in this course learn about legal and ethical issues affecting the healthcare system. The class examines government regulations, the role of patient consent, and privacy and confidentiality. Students also learn to analyze legal and ethical healthcare resources.
- Healthcare Management: A healthcare management course explores the daily challenges of overseeing healthcare organizations. Students learn about the management of healthcare institutions, including laws and regulations that apply to the field. They also develop management skills and learn to apply healthcare management theories to the practice of medicine.
- Public Health: Undergraduate public health courses introduce students to core public health principles and methods. Students learn about the role of public health in promoting community health, preventing widespread disease or epidemics, and improving health outcomes on a broad scale. The course may also examine public health infrastructure, emerging issues, and chronic or infectious disease.
- Medical Terminology: Health sciences professionals must understand medical terminology to communicate with medical professionals. This course introduces students to the terminology used in medical records, including specialty medical terms. Many healthcare programs -- including degrees in nursing, physical therapy, and health information management -- require a medical terminology course.
- Epidemiology: Epidemiology is the study of the distribution of health and disease in human populations. This course trains students to understand disease outcomes, improve population health, and conduct sound research. Students explore the principles and methods of public health epidemiology, the environmental and behavioral factors that contribute to disease, and common epidemiologic study designs.
Bachelor's in Health Sciences Jobs
A bachelor's in health science prepares graduates for clinical roles or business careers in healthcare, so there's a lot you can do with one of these degrees. For example, a bachelor of health science meets the requirements for medical and health services management roles and can also lead to opportunities for health educators, community health workers, and medical laboratory technicians.
In addition to traditional career paths, a health sciences graduate can also become a health science writer, a biomedical illustrator, or a public health consultant. Some healthcare positions require additional study; for example, become a physician assistant requires a master's degree.
Also known as healthcare executives or healthcare administrators, these professionals direct and coordinate services for healthcare facilities, medical practices, or departments within hospitals. Medical and health services managers develop goals to improve the efficiency and quality of healthcare services and ensure their facilities follow laws and regulations.
As part of their management responsibilities, medical and health services managers monitor budgets and create work schedules. They must also keep records on facility maintenance services. Most positions require a bachelor's degree and some work experience, though some employers prefer candidates with a master's degree.
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Health educators promote health by teaching people about healthy behaviors and ways to improve wellness. Also known as health education specialists, they develop programs and materials to educate the public about health topics. They must also evaluate the effectiveness of educational programs and materials.
Health educators sometimes connect people with health services and resources on well-being. They may also supervise staff carrying out health education programs and analyze data to identify a community's health education needs. The position typically requires a bachelor's degree, and some employers prefer candidates with a certified health education specialist credential.
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Physician assistants examine, diagnose, and treat patients, typically working under the supervision of other healthcare providers like physicians and surgeons. They review patient medical histories, conduct physical examinations, order diagnostic tests, and diagnose patient conditions. In some states, physician assistants can also treat patients and prescribe medicine.
In addition to providing medical care, physician assistants often educate patients, research new treatments to improve patient care, and participate in outreach programs. This career path requires a master's degree from an accredited program, which typically takes two years of additional education. Physician assistants must also hold state-issued licenses.
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Accreditation for Online Health Sciences Degrees
Prospective students should always check a school's accreditation status before applying. Accreditation benefits students in several ways. Credits earned at an accredited institution will transfer more easily to other schools and programs, and an accredited degree meets requirements for professional certifications and licenses. Graduate programs may also require an accredited bachelor of health science for admission.
Accreditation recognizes schools and programs for meeting the highest standards of academic excellence. Colleges and universities can earn either regional or national accreditation from independent accrediting agencies, but in the health sciences, regional accreditation is the gold standard.
Individual programs within a university can also pursue accreditation from programmatic accreditation agencies. In the health sciences, the Council on Education for Public Health and the National Environmental Health Science & Protection Accreditation Council grant programmatic accreditation. Learn more about the accreditation process and the benefits of accreditation.
Health Sciences Professional Organizations
Professional organizations help health sciences students transition from undergraduate studies into the workforce. Many offer national or local events where students can connect with professionals like healthcare administrators or public health educators. The following health sciences professional organizations all provide development resources and career support for students and early career professionals.
Founded in 1980, HCAA represents third-party administrators and related service providers. The association provides educational resources, advocates for third-party administrators, and offers networking opportunities through conferences. HCAA members can access publications, legislative updates, discounts, and special announcements.
ASCLS represents clinical laboratory science practitioners. Founded in 1933, the society publishes a journal, offers continuing education resources, and hosts local activities to connect practitioners with one another. ASCLS also provides webcasts and webinars and informs members about job and internship opportunities through its career center.
SOPHE, a nonprofit professional association, represents health education professionals and students. The society provides continuing education opportunities, hosts an annual conference and advocacy summit, and runs the Center for Online Resources and Education. SOPHE also offers a career hub that lists openings in the health education field.