Allied health major prepares students for wide range of careers in healthcare

Brittany Nunes, a senior Honors student majoring in allied health, presents her research project on weight loss among post-partum women in the Honors section of Research Methods in Allied Health.
Brittany Nunes, a senior Honors student majoring in allied health, presents her research project on weight loss among post-partum women in the Honors section of Research Methods in Allied Health.

Careers in the medical field are on the rise, with a predicted growth of about 14 percent from 2018 to 2028.  A major that encompasses every aspect of the healthcare industry is allied health sciences in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. The term allied health refers to the professions that support the healthcare system. Allied health professionals can be found in every part of the healthcare system, from public health to the primary care providers. This major appeals to many students due to its flexibility and the opportunity to choose from a variety of concentrations. In addition to the core allied health requirements, students can narrow their scope and become experts in the area of health they are most passionate about.  

The core allied health requirements, known as the standard plan, can be arranged to suit specific post-graduate plans and goals. The required courses include chemistry, biology and psychology courses. Students can stay with the standard plan or choose to add one of the four different concentrations: health sciences; healthcare administration; public health and health promotion; or occupational and environmental health and safety. The ability to choose among areas of concentration is one of the greatest attractions of this major. Each track offers a unique plan of study and the ability to tailor courses to the student’s individual interests.  

Susan Gregoire, lecturer and director of the AHS Academic Advising Center, says “The health sciences concentration helps prepare students who want to go on to graduate health programs or enter the workforce with a strong science background.” This is also an exceptional track for undergraduates looking to pursue research positions upon graduation. Courses in chemistry, biology, physics and biochemistry are at the core of this concentration.  This is where allied health majors will take a rigorous science sequence. This is the best route for someone seeking a pre-med focus or who sees themselves working in a laboratory or hospital.

The concentration in public health and health promotion provides excellent preparation for students who would like to study disease prevention and health education. Ideally, health care begins with educating communities and populations about disease and proper health practices. Students learn about domestic and global issues that affect different communities and how to develop solutions through policymaking, education and interpersonal relationships. The field of public health includes public policymaking at the government level that works to improve the overall health of the population. Examples of courses offered in the concentration are poverty and public health, community nutrition and US healthcare systems and professional practices.  Upon graduation, graduates are prepared for entry level public health positions or to continue their academic career in a master of public health degree program.

Jeanne McCaffery (teal sweater in the back right corner) and allied health students listen to student presentations in the Honors section of Research Methods in Allied Health.
Jeanne McCaffery (teal sweater in the back right corner) and allied health students listen to student presentations in the Honors section of Research Methods in Allied Health.

Healthcare administration is the newest concentration to join the allied health sciences major. It is unique because it is offered in partnership with the UConn School of Business and requires students to take courses related to business management in the healthcare industry. In addition to the core requirements for the major, healthcare administration students take courses in finance, management, accounting and economics. The job outlook for healthcare administration majors is promising. Adam Kader ’19, an AHS graduate, says “the education I received as a healthcare administration concentration prepared me for my current career in underwriting at AIG Insurance … I also took coursework in the School of Business so that I can work to accurately price insurance.”

Likewise Gregoire states “Our graduates in healthcare administration work in insurance processing medical claims and billing or for nonprofit organizations … [the concentration] also prepares people to work in human resources departments in the healthcare industry,” says Gregoire. A student who is interested in opening a private practice would benefit greatly from adding this concentration to their plan of study. The Department of Allied Health Sciences’ partnership with the School of Business will provide students with the tools necessary to become a small business owner.  

The concentration in occupational and environmental health and safety focuses on the wellbeing and safety of workplaces and environments. These professionals ensure that workplaces comply with OSHA laws and monitoring air and water quality in their facilities.  Gregoire says, “You can focus on workers compensation, helping ensure the workplace is safe for employees, fall precautions and assessing the quality of building structures.” Some areas of study within the concentration range from ergonomics to psychology of workplace safety. Junior Allied Health Sciences major Dominico Moncion says, “I would encourage all allied health majors no matter what focus to take some type of course involving OSHA standards … I feel that it does not only apply to your individual desired field of study, but in any work environment that you may engage in.“ Students in this concentration will enjoy problem solving and developing ways to mitigate health concerns that affect the everyday employee.  

Faculty and advisors in AHS can guide students in choosing among the standard plan and the four concentrations to prepare for the wide range of professional opportunities available to graduates. Says Gregoire, “Our major has a lot of opportunities to go into any health career. You name it and we can help you get there.”  

By Maria Buzzelli

 


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