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Health science jobs make a difference in the world. If you want to help individuals and communities, but aren't interested in clinical work, there are many opportunities in health science to improve people's health.
This guide gives you an overview of health science careers and explores why so many people choose to work in the health science field.
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Top Reasons to Work in Health Sciences
Sarah Pavelka, Ph.D., MHA, OTR/L, CPHQ, FNAHQ, program director of Walden University's master of healthcare administration, shared her insights into health science careers and what makes them attractive to so many people. She notes that while health science careers do not always offer the highest salaries, "people who enter the healthcare field do so because they want to help change and save people's lives, not because of the money."
Dr. Pavelka describes some rewards of health science jobs.
1. Ability to Pursue a Passion for Healthcare in a Non-Clinical Role
Not everybody who wants to help improve individual or community health wants to pursue a clinical role. Health science careers meet that same goal outside the clinical track. Dr. Pavelka notes, "A degree in health science is great for someone who wants to work in healthcare but doesn't want to go through the clinical track. A degree in health science can be an excellent alternative that still allows you to give back to the community."
2. Access a Variety of Occupations and Career Paths
Dr. Pavelka highlights a variety of options for workplace settings and organization types. "With a health science degree, you could work in hospital acute, clinic outpatient or long-term care post-acute settings. You might work in a community health center, military hospital, or dental office. You could work for an insurance company or pharmaceutical company, or even within a health department for a manufacturing company. Individuals with a health science degree can also pursue jobs in the public health field."
3. Work in a High-Demand Field
The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced nearly every aspect of life, including the demand for additional workers in certain fields.
As the U.S. population ages and as public health needs change with the COVID-19 pandemic, health science job opportunities are growing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), home health and personal care aide jobs could grow 33.7% between 2019 and 2029 to help address the needs of aging adults.
The ongoing opioid crisis and unmet need for mental health services, both made worse by COVID-19, drive growth for substance abuse and mental health counselors. The BLS projects 24.7% growth between 2019 and 2029 for these health science careers.
4. Opportunity for Advancement to Leadership and Administrative Roles
Healthcare administration allows you to make a difference through your leadership and management skills. For most mid- to upper-level administration jobs, you need a graduate degree.
Dr. Pavelka notes that "a master's degree in healthcare administration is the most recognized and most common master's degree for managers, leaders, and executives across the healthcare continuum." However, she points out that you can begin your health science career with a bachelor's degree and then pursue a master's degree once you have gained experience.
5. Influence Social Change
Professionals who wanted to create social change, such as Florence Nightingale, have pursued health science careers since the earliest days of health science itself.
Dr. Pavelka states, "I became an administrator because I was really good at helping my patients as an occupational therapist, but I wanted to create bigger change. I wanted to help the entire organization and all of its patients, not just the ones I was seeing each week."
Whether you want to improve the lives of patients with chronic illnesses, help people age independently and with dignity, or prevent illness and injury, health science jobs are a way to pursue that passion.
Start a Journey in Health Sciences
Some people might think that if you don't have a clinical degree, you can't help improve public or individual health. However, there are options for health science degrees without a clinical component that can prepare you for a health science career. You can still experience the same joy of helping others, driving change, and working in a high-demand profession in a variety of health science jobs.
Meet Our Contributor
Sarah Pavelka, Ph.D., MHA, OTR/L, CPHQ, FNAHQ
Dr. Sarah Pavelka, program director of Walden University's master of healthcare administration program, has over 20 years of experience leading and coaching in organizational performance and continuous improvement in business, industry, education, and healthcare.
Dr. Pavelka holds degrees in biology and psychology from Luther College; an occupational therapy degree from Concordia University-Wisconsin; an MHA from Des Moines University, and a Ph.D. from Walden University. She is a fellow for the National Association for Healthcare Quality (FNAHQ); a certified professional in healthcare quality (CPHQ); and has credentials in occupational therapy and ergonomics, with a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.
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