Providing New Educational and Career Opportunities Across the Healthcare Industry
A new program in Southeastern’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences is helping students achieve a strong, interdisciplinary foundation in healthcare, providing them flexibility to pursue fulfilling careers in a wide variety of
The Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences program, part of the Kinesiology and Health Studies Department, began in the Spring of 2020 to help students broaden their knowledge and obtain a cutting edge in the ever-changing and multifaceted healthcare field. This contributes to not only better career opportunities for students but also a stronger workforce that is able to tackle the unpredictable challenges of today and tomorrow.
Department Head of Kinesiology and Health Studies Dr. Charity Bryan explained how this is preparing Southeastern students for the next step in their education, offering “a flexible curriculum to complete requirements for admission into physical therapy, physician assistant, dental hygiene, public health, and athletic training programs.”
Southeastern has already seen an interest in the program from the community. Bryan said, “The new Health Sciences program has proven very popular with over 235 majors.” In response to the growth and interest, Southeastern has welcomed new faculty members to “expand our class offerings and provide additional research opportunities for students.”
The faculty members are knowledgeable about the program and excited to share their knowledge with future health professionals. Professor of Health Sciences Dr. Ralph Wood said, “This is the perfect degree for students who want to pursue careers in public health and healthcare-related fields, such as health coaching and patient navigation.”
The Health Sciences degree will have a direct benefit to our local and state community. According to a study published in 2018 by the United Health Foundation, Louisiana was ranked the unhealthiest state. The program aims to help alleviate this problem. “The Health Science degree will allow graduates to specifically address health problems and help individuals pursue better health outcomes, improve health literacy, and make healthier choices for themselves and their families,” said Bryan.
This program gives students the opportunity to pursue many career paths across the health field. It includes a solid foundation in public health courses including epidemiology and two-course sequences on chronic disease management; a course solely focused on motivational interviewing and health coaching; and the necessary training to plan, implement, manage, and evaluate evidence-based programs.
The flexibility throughout the program offers students the opportunity to choose 22 hours of health science electives. They can pick from courses in athletic training, biology, physics, chemistry, kinesiology, health systems management, psychology, nursing, microbiology, zoology, and family and consumer sciences. The electives provide students the option to complete coursework to gain prerequisites required for graduate school programs in athletic training, occupational therapy, physician assistant, physical therapy, or other allied health professions. Students can also complete the requirements to earn a certificate in digital health management or population health management. Program Coordinator Carrie M. Edwards said, “The 22 hours of elective provide a framework for students to not only complete prerequisites for graduate programs in the allied health
sciences but also the flexibility to choose courses of interest in health and wellness to create a more holistic health degree.”
Students can collaborate with nationally recognized faculty through research opportunities. Faculty members within the program have research experience in health coaching and counseling; drug, alcohol, and tobacco prevention; chronic illness in children; nutrition and physical activity; worksite health programming; health disparities; minority health; stress and health risk behaviors; and other research topics.
Students are encouraged to engage in learning opportunities beyond the classroom and interact with other students and health professionals through attending professional conferences. Some of the conferences include the National Health & Physical Literacy Summit, Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE), American School Health Association (ASHA), and American Public Health Association (APHA).
The career options post-graduation for students obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences are bright. “Graduates will be prepared with a solid undergraduate foundation to pursue careers in public health, health
education, and health coaching, as well as graduate study and/or professional degrees in pre-health, such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician assistant, dental hygiene, public health, and athletic training,” said Edwards. Students completing this program will be equipped to take the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) examination to become CHES certified.
By Mary Grace Kelley