When one mentions majoring in Health and Sciences, one main thought comes to kind for most people; being a medical practitioner. The prevailing assumption is that a health science major can only lead to practicing medicine after graduation, maybe being a dentist or a surgeon if not just a general practitioner. This is only partly true as the fields under the health and sciences umbrella are not only numerous but also diverse. I know am not alone in this myopic perception of the health major range, therefore, I’d love to try disambiguating this wide field.
First, we need to ask ourselves, what is a health science major? It is a program that seeks to introduce students to the basics of health care and offer them a deeper understanding of the science to make them ready for careers in health related professions. It prepares the students for private and public service in activities such as nutritional wellbeing, personal health as well as prevention and treatment of diseases among others. Even this definition does not fully encompass all that a health science major entails since it is just an overview of some of the fields within.
The above description leaves a lot to be desired as pertains to the exact career fields under the health sciences major. What are the professional paths that a graduate of this major pursue after successfully completing their studies? The career options available to such a student include; nursing, pharmacy, psychology, alternative medicine, physiotherapy, sports science, nutrition and food science, dental hygiene, counseling, forensic science, dental hygiene and clinical laboratory science. The above list names just but a few of the options which frankly, are endless.
Like all other majors, there are academic qualifications required for one to specialize in health sciences. For starters, one requires strong high school grade point averages as well as near exemplary SAT scores if not outright straight A’s. However, unlike in the other majors, personality traits may factor into the qualifications in this case. It is because the high average scores and good grades only help in the grasping of complicated medical theories and their application in real-life problem solving. Therefore other attributes are necessitated by the constant interaction with the people being served.
What are the other individual prerequisites for a health major? These are generally referred to as people skills. One needs to have a patient temperament combined with a great level of understanding to avoid flaring up when dealing with emergency situations. An individual also requires a radiant personality with a gentle bedside manner. It is because the people being served more often than not are in distress and therefore, need to be handled delicately and with finesse. It is also an added advantage if one has a volunteer mentality, that is, involved in community service and charity activities.
In the light of all these stringent requirements, it is obvious that one has to forego some things and make certain sacrifices so as to make the cut as health sciences major. What these entail, one may ask. For a student to attain the straight grades required, extra effort has to be put into their studies to ensure they achieve the good grades from the high school examinations as well as the standardized exams such as the SATs. The extra effort unfortunately includes a lot of sleepless nights spent up studying. Personality-wise, one has to learn to ignore the impulse to strike back when wronged because angry temperaments do not fit in with the job descriptions. Socially, one has to cut back on the interaction time with friends and family especially towards the end when the finals are approaching.
The job opportunities for a health science major graduate are endless on the other hand. They include; pharmacists, nurses, physicians’ assistants, general practitioners, psychiatrists, physical therapists and dentists. The baseline in salary for these jobs ranges between 40,000-50,000$ per annum, and that’s only the starting point. This figure depends on the specific job carried out, the area and extent of expertise as well as the general demand in the service market for that particular skill set. This figures can go as high as 150,000$ per annum for dentists and physicians (study.com). Noteworthy as well is that the health care industry is a continuously growing market albeit at different rates for different careers. Thus, a shortage of employment opportunities or the subsequent perks should not be a concern for a student majoring in health sciences.
At this point, this question often arises, is money the only thing that students can hope for as compensation for the struggles and sacrifices. If so, therefore, is it not wiser to simply invest all their college fees and try their luck in the lottery? Studies and surveys have been carried out to determine what drives medical workers, practitioners and health professionals to work every day. The answer is actually quite simple; job satisfaction. If your personality fits with the description above, there is no greater contentment than that drawn from having helped save a life or allay the suffering of an ailing person.
What are the drawbacks of actually working in the health care sector? Unfortunately the sacrifices do not stop the moment one graduates from college and gets comfortably employed. Despite the surety of employment and relatively adequate remuneration for the services rendered, there are other shortcomings of a career in the health sciences. One of them is the excruciatingly long hours of work that an individual has to put in especially in the public sector. Surgeons, for example, can be called into work at any time of the day or night during emergencies. There is also a huge disparity in wage differentiation between those in the private and public sector that may be demoralizing. The working conditions also vary greatly between the two sectors within the industry. Some of the experiences encountered on the job may also prove traumatic or depressing to the practitioners.
Having factored all the above pros and cons, it would appear that a career in the health sciences is a viable option for someone deciding on what to major in college. Actually, as long as the academic and personality qualifications are met, I would highly recommend it to anyone who is sitting on the fence about the direction of their future. However, at the end of the day, the decision ultimately rests with the individuals because only they understand themselves best. This will save them from having a lot of regrets in the future regarding their career choices.
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