Online Degree Programs in Health

Popular Majors in Health

Students who choose a major in an area of health care show that they are interested not only in a secure job environment, but also that they place a priority on helping people get better in one way or another. At the bachelor’s degree level, majors in health sciences were the fourth most popular majors for college students in 2006-07, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. At the doctoral level, the largest number of degrees was conferred to students in health professions and related clinical sciences. Popular majors in health include nursing and health administration.

Nursing majors take courses in anatomy & physiology, health care communication, chronic disease management, epidemiology, microbiology, health care laws and ethics, as well as taking part in supervised, hands-on clinicals where they learn to care for patients.

Health administration majors take courses in leadership, professional development, communication, health care management, ethics & legal issues, financial accounting, economics and receive a certain level of training in health-care-related computer programs.

How a Degree in Health Prepares You for the Real World

Degrees in health are largely occupational. That means if you enroll in an online program in, say, dental hygiene or medical billing and coding, you will take part in direct training for the specific job you’re interested in along with classroom instruction tailored toward that career. The more a student can concentrate his or her studies on the aspects of a real-world career, the better prepared he or she will be for that career.

Let’s look at nursing programs, for example. Classes in microbiology might not seem directly related, but as you learn the ins and outs of disease management, you will not only learn how to treat health issues caused by microscopic organisms, but will also know how they work and spread. The classes all fit together to prepare you for the real world of nursing. Classes in communication might not seem directly related, but if you can’t listen, communicate and sympathize with a patient to find out what’s wrong and identify symptoms, you won’t be functioning at your highest potential on the job.

Many health degree programs also offer or require internships preparing students for a real-world health career.

Best Jobs for Health Degree Students

A good number of the 30 Best Careers for 2009 named by U.S. News & World Report were careers in health care. Some of the jobs listed included registered nurses, physician’s assistants, pharmacists, physical therapists, occupational therapists and health policy specialists. Here will discuss two of those jobs—registered nurses and physician’s assistants.

Registered nurses are in great demand due to ongoing nursing shortages in many parts of the country, which means registered nurses have the potential to receive signing bonuses and higher salaries as some health care centers struggle to recruit them. RNs tend to patients by treating their symptoms, educating them about their health and how to manage their illness, performing tests and analyzing results and recording medical histories and other patient information.

Physician’s assistants work under the authority of a physician or surgeon to diagnose and treat patients’ more minor ailments as part of a health care team. PAs supply diagnostic and preventive health care examinations, record a patient’s medical history, educate patients about their illness or injury, and in most states, even write a limited number of prescriptions.