Are you passionate about improving the lives of others, fascinated by the human body, or curious about the dynamics of healthcare management? A health science degree is the perfect way to jump into the healthcare industry that not only allows you to understand the complexities of the human body but also the strategic elements behind delivering effective healthcare services.

While health science degrees are often associated with clinical careers such as nursing or medicine, these degrees expose students to a variety of disciplines that shape health outcomes and overall well-being. Throughout your coursework, you may discover that access to green spaces such as parks in your neighborhood can slow biological aging, or you may learn of the disparities in maternal mortality rates among different races in the United States. Whether you are on the clinical or business side of healthcare, these findings can significantly influence your day-to-day approach to your work in the industry.

If these topics interest you, let’s explore the world of opportunities that a health science degree can open.

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Health Science Degree Career Trajectories

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in healthcare occupations is projected to surpass the average of across all other occupations from 2022-2032. These statistics not only reflect the industry’s resilience in the face of economic challenges and global crises but also the promise of fair compensation and stability. There has never been a better time to begin a healthcare career, especially given the growing aging population in the United States. As seniors live longer, the need for healthcare professionals to ensure high-quality and comprehensive care grows.

What can you do with a health science degree? Taking on a health science major in college provides students with pathways to entry-level roles in health administration, medical or pharmaceutical sales, and other health-related services. Some job opportunities that being to open up with a health science degree include:

  • Healthcare Administration: Manage and coordinate healthcare services in hospitals, clinics, or other healthcare organizations. This role involves overseeing operations, and finances, and ensuring quality patient care.

  • Public Health Specialist: Work on community health initiatives, disease prevention programs, health education campaigns, and policy development to improve public health outcomes.

  • Epidemiologist: Study the patterns, causes, and effects of diseases and public health issues within specific populations to prevent and control their spread.

  • Health Educator: Develop and implement programs that promote healthy behaviors and educate individuals or communities on health topics.

  • Biomedical Researcher: Conduct scientific research to understand diseases, develop treatments, and improve healthcare practices.

  • Clinical Laboratory Technologist: Perform laboratory tests and analyze results to assist physicians in diagnosing and treating diseases.

  • Occupational Therapist/Physical Therapist/Speech-Language Pathologist: Help patients recover from injuries or illnesses, improve their mobility, or overcome speech disorders.

  • Nutritionist or Dietitian: Guide healthy eating habits and create personalized nutrition plans for individuals or communities.

  • Pharmaceutical Sales Representative: Promote and sell pharmaceutical products to healthcare professionals.

  • Health Informatics Specialist: Manage and analyze global health data to improve patient outcomes, healthcare delivery, and efficiency within healthcare systems.

  • Chiropractor/Acupuncturist: Provide alternative or complementary healthcare treatments for various conditions.

  • Physician Assistant: Work alongside physicians, examining patients, diagnosing illnesses, and prescribing medications.

  • Dentistry: Pursue a career in dentistry focusing on oral health and dental care.

  • Epidemiology: Study the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events in specified populations.

It’s important to note that some of these career paths may require post-graduate training. For that reason, the health sciences degree is oftentimes referred to as a “pre-med major” – as the degree prepares students to apply for and enter graduate and professional programs in medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and many others. 

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What to Expect from a Health Science Degree Program

A strong foundation and passion for the sciences such as biology, chemistry, and physics is typically required for pursuing a health science degree. Most health studies programs also incorporate coursework in anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, and healthcare ethics to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the human body and healthcare practices. As previously mentioned, these courses tend to also serve as pre-requisite courses for healthcare graduate and professional programs.

Throughout your health science bachelor’s degree, you will delve into various aspects of healthcare, including disease prevention, diagnostics, treatment methods, and healthcare delivery systems. Some schools even provide their students with opportunities to gain practical experience through internships or clinical rotations, providing you with hands-on exposure to real-world healthcare settings and challenges. Gaining practical experience can be extremely helpful in landing a good full-time opportunity once you graduate. Therefore, it is important to compare the programs offered across the different universities you are interested in. 

Preparing for a Health Science Degree

For high school students with an interest in pursuing health science in their higher education, there are several ways to begin preparing. First, it's important to pay extra attention in your STEM classes as the concepts you learn in high school will serve as building blocks to the various courses you will take throughout your undergraduate career.

Second, it would be beneficial to begin volunteering at local clinics or hospitals in any capacity. These experiences allow you to better understand how healthcare delivery functions (it is quite different than what Grey’s Anatomy depicts). As someone who has completed a health science-related degree and currently works in healthcare administration, I consistently draw upon my volunteer experiences from high school and college in my own work. These experiences also helped me as I applied to graduate school and full-time positions.

Finally, you should look to connect with mentors who are experts in the different career paths in any career path you are interested in, from social work to allied health. Polygence can help with this! Our Pathfinders program is designed specifically for high schoolers seeking their passions. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about each field, ask all of your questions, and get personalized career advice from the experts. Learn more about the program, and click here to sign up for Pathfinders now!

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Embark on Your Journey in Health Science 

A degree in health science opens up a world of possibilities and opportunities to make a meaningful impact on individuals' lives and communities. Whether your passion lies in patient care, healthcare management, or scientific research, the interdisciplinary nature of health science ensures that you acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in various sectors of the healthcare industry. Begin your journey in health science today and pave the way for a fulfilling and impactful career dedicated to improving health and well-being.