While most people are familiar with doctors and nurses, the health science professions actually comprise more than 60 percent of the entire health care work force and are essential to patient care and research. Physical therapists, dietitians, business professionals and laboratory scientists among others make up the approximately two million professionals employed in the United States today in this area. These essential components of the health care delivery system span over 200 distinct disciplines.
At the University of Kansas, the School of Health Professions was formed to bring additional support and emphasis for a wide variety of emerging and existing programs in the health sciences. The term "allied health" refers to an extremely diverse collection of fields in health care. In addition to medicine and nursing, "allied health" usually excludes the disciplines of dentistry, veterinary medicine, optometry, and pharmacy. However, there is some inconsistency in the location of these programs across the country – health science programs may be found in a school of "allied health", school of "health sciences" or may even be found in a school of medicine, education, nursing or other academic units.
The demand for professionals in these fields has never been higher – therefore job availability is excellent. Seventeen of the 30 fastest growing occupations for 2008-2018 are in health care or medical research, according to new employment projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Continued advances in health sciences ensure exciting careers and offer opportunities to make a lasting and meaningful difference in the lives of others.
There are many considerations when selecting or changing careers. If you are intersted in the health care system, but unsure about what type of program you should pursue, here are a few things to consider.
What are my aptitudes for math and science? Do I enjoy working with people? Do I prefer to work behind the scenes in a lab or office? The answer to these questions will help you decide if you should look into therapy-related fields or more technical, business or laboratory-related ones.
What are my educational goals? Since these programs vary greatly in terms of length of educational programs, carefully consider how much time you are willing to dedicate to your studies. Some programs are year-long certificates, while others are full bachelor’s level programs and beyond. Many health care professions require a master’s level degree or higher.
How can an entry-level degree in a health care program help me achieve my long-term goals? Maybe your long-term goal is medical school or entails an advanced degree at another educational institution. An undergraduate degree from the KU School of Health Professions may set you on a path to success. For example, a degree in clinical laboratory science provides terrific career opportunities, and is also a great “pre-med” degree as well.
About health care degree options available from the School of Health Professions
Graduates from the school have gone on to a wide array of careers in health care, from clincians directly working with patients to laboratory scientists studying cells with highly specialized equipment. Others enter business, administration, higher education, research and so much more. Job opportunities in health care are projected to grow faster than that of other fields over the next decade. Here are a few of the many disciplines available at KU:
To learn more about health care careers available at the KU School of Health Professions, see our academic programs list or to find out more about health professions, visit the national organization’s web site.
Additional information for prospective students: