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No field, not even computer science, is growing like health care. The reasons for the growth have been rehearsed over and over: an exploding population; the aging of the Baby Boomers; and advances in medical technology, just to name a few.
The simple fact is, if you want the security of knowing you’ll always be able to find a job, health care is the way to go. Whether you’re planning to become a registered nurse, a substance-abuse counselor, a nurse practitioner, or a brain surgeon, qualified healthcare workers are needed at all levels and in all geographic regions. Salaries range from an average of $65,000 for an RN to six and seven figures for specialized surgeons.
Students considering their career paths, and working adults who want to make a career change, need to ask themselves a lot of questions:
- What is a health science major?
- What are the benefits of a health science degree?
- What are the reasons why nurses need higher education to advance in their career?
- What is a health science major potential salary?
- Are the benefits of nursing career the same as the benefits of a health science degree?
There are many rewarding occupations in the healthcare and nursing industries. Take sufficient time to learn what is a health science major offers, and the many career possibilities this degree program provides.
Health Science & Nursing School Accreditation
Accreditation is the process by which universities, professional schools, and colleges receive validation as to the validity of the courses offered compared against a pre-set industry generally agreed-upon set of professional standards. In other words, accreditation approval essentially acts as a professional stamp of approval! There are two broad categories of academic accreditation used in the United States — Regional Accreditation and Specialized Accreditation.
Regional Accreditation: Regional accreditation is tasked through the federal government’s Regional Agencies that are organized under the United States Department of Education (USDE). These regional accreditation agencies are tasked with the responsibility of overseeing the nation’s regional accreditation processes and standards. As the federal government manages the process of regional accreditation it is most often viewed as an exalted type of accreditation.
Specialized Accreditation: Undergraduate and graduate health science and nursing degree programs frequently choose to voluntarily open their health science and nursing facilities and programs to professional inspections from approved professional industry oversight agencies.
Health Sciences Accreditation
Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs: The CAAHEP is a tax-exempt entity that was created in the early 1990s. What does CAAHEP stand for? The acronym is short for the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. The CAAHEP is one of the primary professional oversight agencies whose accreditation activities are sanctioned by the Council for Higher Education (CHEA) for the accreditation of health science-related programs and institutions of higher learning.
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs is tasked with the responsibility of having accredited more than 2,000+ entry-level programs across more than 30 professionals across the health science and nursing industry. Accreditation is a great way to ensure health science education programs offer consistent, required curricula and internship requirements.
Additionally, health science and nursing education communities have nationally recognized accrediting academic programs within the health science and nursing education communities. It is called the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Read on to learn how ABHES vs CAAHEP stack up against one another.
Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES): The mission of the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools is to serve as a qualified agency ready to accredit programs and schools in the many disciplines within the health science community.
The Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools seeks to –
- Elevate the caliber of training and educations in the fields of nursing and health sciences.
- Establish criteria that demonstrate a health science or nursing program meets industry minimum standards.
- Promote ethical business practices.
Like health science accreditation, nursing school accreditation is essentially the ‘nod of approval’ from a qualified accreditation agency. This approval nod speaks to the quality of the program and school against a preset set of industry-accepted standards. It ensures that the program detailed online is the program a student receives when enrolling.
Nursing school accreditation happens at the regional level, but also at a more specialized level.
This is why nursing school accreditation what to look for remains a critical part of one’s decision as to which nursing school they wish to attend. Two primary nursing school accreditation agencies operate simultaneously. They are:
- Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
- Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
How does CCNE vs ACEN compare? Read on to learn how the CCNE vs ACEN differs from one another.
Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE): The United States Secretary of Education recognizes the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) as a national agency of accreditation. CCNE’s, like most industry oversight agencies ’ fundamental goals, is to serve the public by scrutinizing nursing programs against industry-approved pre-set CCNE accreditation standards. Industry experts and nursing leadership authorities have contributed to the creation and maintenance of these standards of approval.
In this way, the CCNE accreditation standards act as a bar of minimum criteria a professional nursing program should meet.
Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN): The United States Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversee the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) agency.
The biggest difference when comparing CCNE vs ACEN is that the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing is has been in existence as a specialized accreditation agency than the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing accredits nursing schools on bachelor, master, and doctoral level nursing degrees. Accreditation from ACEN speaks to the accredited program’s quality — as it has passed the industry-approved minimum standards.
Types Of Health Sciences & Nursing Degrees
There are many ways to gain entrance into the nursing profession. While nursing degree requirements vary by state, most states align with similar, if not the same nursing degree requirements. Institutions of higher learning provide a nursing courses list that breaks down the various programs and degrees they offer. Some nursing degrees are only available in traditional on-campus classroom settings. Still, other professional schools and universities offer nursing degrees online for those students in need of flexibility and convenience.
- Associate degree in nursing on-campus, or online
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program on-campus or as a hybrid delivered format
- Bachelors in Health Science online, or on-campus
- BSN to a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program
Once you have had a chance to review the programs and each program’s nursing degree requirements, you will begin to understand the benefits of choosing to take a Bachelor’s in Health Science online, or the advantages of BSN in Nursing, over a more traditional Registered Nurse (RN) program.
It is noted that there is a current trend in the nursing profession to slowly require all RNs to hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to maintain their professional nursing license. This is one of the many advantages of BSN in Nursing degree choice.
AS: The place to start in health care is the associate’s degree, the standard for a registered nurse, technician (such a dental hygenist or radiologist), or assistant (such as a physical therapist assistant). An associate’s degree is as simple as two years in a community college, though most jobs also require licensure.
(Check out: What is the Benefit of Going to a Community College?)
BS: The bachelor’s degree is necessary for higher-paying, higher-status jobs. Many registered nurses find themselves going back to school for the BSN, for instance, to gain access to better positions. It’s also an entry-level degree for professions in behavioral science such as counseling, as well as for more specialized technical roles such as MRI technicians. Most health care bachelor’s degrees are 4-year programs, though some are 5 years.
MS/MSN/PA/NP: In most fields of health care, the master’s degree will open doors for managerial positions, higher-order technicians, and therapists. For nurses who wish to take on leadership roles, the MSN is usually a minimum requirement, as well as for nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners. Occupational and physical therapists will need a master’s degree, as will many counseling positions. Usually, two to three years, most master’s level degrees are readily available online for students already working in the health care field.
MD/DO/PhD: To be a doctor or surgeon, you need an MD or a DO. To be a psychiatrist or psychologist, you need a doctorate. To teach health care at the college level, you need a PhD. In any case, a doctoral degree is a major commitment, requiring anywhere from 3 to 7 years of work.
Have you considered the following questions regarding Healthcare degrees online?
- What can you do with a Health Science bachelor degree?
- How can a Healthcare management degree help you reach for career goals?
- Is a Master of Science healthcare management degree available online?
There are many and varied career opportunities for those who hold a Healthcare Management Degree. The benefits of a health science degree depend on the chosen field of study and student’s career objectives. However, it is noted that the benefits of a health science degree are varied and significant.
Is there a Health Science degree online that would allow you to reach for your career objectives, or must you attend traditional on-campus classes to earn one of the many healthcare administration degrees? The many online Health Science programs available offer many pathways to a professional Health science degree online.
The types of Healthcare degrees and Healthcare Management degrees include –
- Health Science Associate degree
- Healthcare Bachelor degrees
- Master of Science Healthcare Management degree
- Master of Science Health Administration degree
Many more advanced Healthcare Management degrees are available. Also, there are many Healthcare degrees online that may meet your educational and academic requirements. These flexible Healthcare degrees online include the following –
- Online Health Science Associate degree or online Healthcare Associate degrees
- Healthcare Administration online bachelors degree program
- Healthcare Administration online classes
- Master of Science Health Administration
What Can You Do with a Health Science Bachelor Degree?
You can enter into the health care industry with an on-campus health science associate degree or by earning an online Health Science Associate degree. Online Healthcare Associate degrees offer great flexibility and convenience for working learners.
To advance within the health care industry most healthcare professionals choose to advance their current healthcare management degree by earning their Healthcare Bachelor degrees on-campus, or their Healthcare Administration online bachelor’s degree. Healthcare Administration degrees are generally offered at a graduate or doctoral academic level.
Online vs. Residential Programs
The question of whether to choose an online or residential program is moot at the lowest levels; because health care requires a lot of hands-on experience, the associate degree pretty much always requires residential education, usually through a community college or tech school. That goes especially for the RN. There’s more flexibility at the bachelor’s level – some online programs are available for students who already have an associate’s degree, though online BSN programs often require students to travel for clinical experience, so few are truly 100% online degrees.
(check out: Are Online Degrees a Good Investment?)
At the master’s level, online programs can be tricky as well. There are many places to earn an online MSN, and counseling degrees can often be found online as well, though the issue of clinicals comes up again; sometimes you can get clinical credit from your current work, but not always. The real question is whether potential employers will trust your online degree. If it’s backed up with experience, it will probably be no problem, but if all you have is an online degree with little or no experience in a clinical setting, forget it.
To make a long story short, online programs in health care are fine if you’re very confident in your knowledge and have a lot of experience in your field; otherwise, you’re probably safer with a residential program.
Best Value Residential Programs
Best Value Online Programs
Everyone’s college education begins with the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). It’s the document that determines your official need, and what you have available in financial aid. It’s the main determinant in the Federal Work-Study Program, for instance, a government program that allows students to pay for tuition in exchange for work. It’s an often-overlooked option, but useful, in that it’s usually on-campus for residential students, scheduled around your classes, and can be directly related to your major or intended career path (unlike, say, a job with a paper hat). Pell Grants are another form of federal aid that do not need to be repaid.
Most American students end up taking out some form of student loan, the amount of which is also determined by the FAFSA. Federal loans are either subsidized or unsubsidized and usually offer flexible options for repayment; private loans, through banks, run the gamut from easy to predatory. Take out loans wisely.
Another option is scholarships, which come from all kinds of sources. Some scholarships are offered by the college or university in a need-based or merit-based system (determined by a student’s or family’s income, or on academic performance). Others come from private sources for a variety of criteria: scholarships for women, scholarships for minorities, scholarships for contest winners, scholarships for anyone willing to do an obscure job no one has ever heard of. These can be highly competitive, or available to anyone who asks.
Working adults may find their employer offers tuition reimbursement as a benefit. These programs usually require that you get a degree directly related to the job, since more qualified, better-educated employees are an advantage to the company.
Careers in the Health Science and the Nursing Industries
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those entering the healthcare sector will find themselves in one of the most stable career paths available. A meaningful and fulfilling career doesn’t always pay the most, however, the reward in helping humanity often trumps monetary wealth. The world will always need registered nurses, radiologists, laboratory technicians, counselors, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, psychiatrists, or one of the many different specialized doctors. Future healthcare workers can expect a decent wage and a plethora of job opportunities.
The health science and nursing industries are interrelated and depend heavily upon the talent and skills each offers. However, each industry operates independently of one another. The field of health science incorporates a comprehensive assortment of careers and specialty options. Skilled health science professionals will be an integral part of taking care of a large aging population.
The health science industry refers to a broad category of healthcare disciplines designed to care for humans (and animals) by applying knowledge extracted from the fields of math, science, and technology, to name a few. A health science job description generally includes the many practical ways to maintain (and/or improve) the health and wellbeing of all living things. Associates degree in Health Science jobs is generally entry-level opportunities. The health science bachelor’s degree jobs offer more advanced opportunities in the health science career cluster.
Health science careers are medical careers in demand for the future.
Health Science Degree Career Options
A partial list of health science degree career options is shown below. Consider the health science job description of each of the following careers to understand just how diversified health science degree career options are –
Lab Technician — a professional that assists in scientific research or health science care. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that the median salary for a lab technician is $52,330 (2018).
Audiologist. — a professional who is trained to diagnose (and then treat) balance and hearing disorders. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that the median salary for an audiologist is $75,980 (2016).
Nutritionist — a professionally trained individual with expertise on the relationship that exists between health and food. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that the median salary for nutritionists & dietitians is $60,370 (2018).
Occupational Therapist — a professional that treats patients the need to recover or to develop meaningful activities by applying everyday activities as therapeutic methods. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that the median salary for occupational therapists is $84,270 (2018).
Optician — a professional who is trained to deal in the world of optical instruments and items. This includes the fitting of eyeglasses and corrective contact lenses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that the median salary for opticians is $37,010 (2018).
Paramedic — a professional who cares for the injured or sick outside of a traditional medical setting. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that the median salary for a paramedic (or emergency medical technician) is $34,320 (2018).
Nurse Practitioner — a registered nurse who has completed advanced nursing degrees. A nurse practitioner generally holds an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) certification. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that the median salary for a nurse practitioner is $113,930 (2018).
Speech Pathologist — a professionally trained individual with the skills to diagnose and treat language and speech disorders or problems. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that the median salary for speech and language pathologists is $77,510 (2018).
Respiratory Therapist — a highly trained professional skilled at diagnosing and treating health care treatments to a patient’s lungs and/or cardiopulmonary system. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that the median salary for a respiratory therapist is $60,280 (2018).
Pharmacy Technician — is a health science professional who works under the supervision of a licensed and registered pharmacist. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that the median salary for a pharmacy technician is $32,700 (2018).
There are many other health science degree career options to explore. Many of the above-noted health science degree career options have entry-level positions that only required a two-year degree. These are examples of an associate’s degree in health science jobs. The higher-paid positions that require more responsibility are the available health science bachelor’s degree jobs.
Nursing Careers Options
The work of a nurse professional spans the many levels of the health care industry. There are many Bachelor of Health Science opportunities and differing career paths for nurses to reach their career objectives. The highest level of nursing education generally leads to careers in research. However, professionals who possess the highest level of nursing degree can also find rewarding careers in academia. Health care facilities and institutions of higher learning often post a list of nurses positions available to apply for.
The following offers a glimpse into some of the most in-demand and popular career paths for nurses. These jobs offer great examples of the many ways the work of a nurse may unfold.
Family Nurse Practitioner: The family practitioner provides general healthcare (i.e. internal medicine) to all patients, of any age. They typically work under the direct supervision of a medical physician. A nurse practitioner must possess a master’s in nursing and, a certification in one or more nursing specialties.
Many family nurse practitioners choose to work in doctor’s offices in the capacity of offering preventative care or administering to commonplace illnesses and diseases. Family practitioners spend time educating patients, as it is their responsibility to teach and to promote lifestyle choices that lead to healthy living.
Nurse Midwife: A nurse-midwife is a nursing specialist trained to care for pregnant women who are about to deliver a baby. A Nurse Midwife is often an integral part of a patient’s prenatal care, postpartum support.
Nurse Educator: As nursing professionals reach the upper academic levels, many find rewarding career choices that lead to occupations in the academic realm. Nurse Educators are responsible for preparing nurse students and educating current nursing professionals in the nursing industry. Nurse educators are in demand in medical institutions and universities/professional schools.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner: A pediatric nurse practitioner has chosen to apply their nursing skills and talents to children and young adults below the age of 18. A pediatric nurse practitioner finds rewarding nursing careers helping children fight chronic diseases.
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner: A psychiatric nurse practitioner is an advanced level of nursing care. They typically possess an ARNP (Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner) certificate that denotes appropriate training in the realm of psychiatric nursing. Psychiatric nurse practitioners work under the supervision of a medical doctor, a psychiatrist.
Nurse Anesthetist: A nurse anesthetist is a highly specialized nursing position. A Nurse Anesthetist’s training includes the administration and management of the anesthetic process — before, during and after a medical procedure. A nurse anesthetist must hold an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse license as nurse anesthetists are tasked with tremendous responsibilities. Additionally, a nurse anesthetist must apply for and receive accreditation from the professional organization known as the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists.
Most nurse anesthetists find rewarding careers working in hospitals, out-patient facilities, and surgical centers. Their highly trained skill base offers some of the highest salaries in the nursing industry.
Acute Care Nurse Practitioner: An Acute Care Nurse Practitioner specializes in working with acutely ill or critically injured patients. The attending doctor and/or nursing manager supervises an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner in a health care facility. Their duties include monitoring a patient’s condition by taking vital signs regularly and for keeping a patient’s family up to date regarding the patient’s condition.
Director Of Nursing (DON): Many nursing professionals continue to earn advanced degrees as working adults. The Director of Nursing is tasked with a huge responsibility (which is compensated accordingly) to manage a staff of professional nurses in a medical institution or facility. A Director of Nursing is responsible for maintaining a cohesive nursing unit, professional guidance when needed, and establishing enforceable safety rules and regulations for the benefit of all.
Nursing careers are medical careers in demand for the future.
Salary Potential in the Healthcare Industry
The nursing industry is staffed with many types of nurses and salaries that depend heavily upon the nursing professional’s level of experience and education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the anticipated job growth rate in the healthcare industry (as an overall industry) is 18%. The statistician’s projected growth for jobs in the healthcare industry is more than twice the predicted annual growth for all industries combined.
The median annual wage for the different levels of nursing and salaries was $66,440 for 2020. However, an ADN nursing salary (with only a minimum level of education) would fall below that of a nurse who held a more advanced degree.
A Bachelor’s in Health Science salary is the nursing degree salary for most Registered Nurses (RNs). The types of nurses and salaries vary as different levels of nursing and salaries veer off into a variety of nursing specialties.
The median annual salary for nursing professionals (including a Bachelor’s in Health Science salary, an ADN nursing salary, & nursing degree salary) for 2020 was $71,730. The anticipated job growth for registered nurses hovers around 15%, just a bit lower than the overall healthcare industry, but still twice the average of all industries.
A Health Studies degree salary also varies due to the many career opportunities available who hold this specific degree. Therefore, it is best to refine your career objectives before determining the amount of health studies degree salary.