North Park Introduces New Programs to Prepare Students for Healthcare Careers

Using technology in the nursing simulation lab
North Park's new undergraduate programs will continue the University's strong tradition of preparing indviduals for careers in healthcare.

Bachelor's degrees in health sciences and medical studies will be available beginning in Fall 2014

CHICAGO (April 10, 2014) — North Park University will launch two new bachelor of science programs this fall—a BS in health sciences and a BS in medical studies—which together represent the University’s growing emphasis on preparing healthcare practitioners in an era of fast-growing demand for professionals in these fields.

The health sciences major will prepare students to fill non-clinical administrative or educational positions in a variety of health and allied health programs. The medical studies program will be offered as a second bachelor’s degree for students who need to complete prerequisites for medical school or other health professional program applications.

“These programs are born not just out of the directives of our updated strategic plan, which does call for an increased focus on science and health, but out of years of commitment to preparing students for science careers,” says Nate Mouttet, vice president for enrollment and marketing. Mouttet added that the University is building on its strengths—including a 50-year tradition in nursing—and putting resources into this important area.

The introduction of the new degree programs will coincide with the opening of the Nancy and G. Timothy Johnson Center for Science and Community Life, which will provide more than 100,000 square feet of dedicated space for state-of-the-art science laboratories, classrooms, and research, as well as offices and student gathering areas. Dedication of the new facility is scheduled for September 12 and 13.

Health sciences focused on management in healthcare settings

The BS in health sciences will provide students with a foundation in the life and health sciences combined with management and leadership courses that prepare them for positions such as clinical services managers, hospital administrators, and community health liaisons. A required practicum will give students the opportunity to work with a local organization to undertake a project that matches their career aspirations.

“This responds to a rapidly growing need on several levels,” says Dr. Linda Duncan, dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, who developed the program. “There are multiple opportunities for specialized careers in the healthcare industry.”

The first health sciences track, available to the program’s students in the Fall 2014 semester, will focus on healthcare leadership. Offered in partnership with the School of Business and Nonprofit Management, the program will incorporate courses in leadership and management that will prepare graduates for increased responsibility and career mobility in their jobs.

“Working with area hospitals, I’ve been told that more and more technicians are being asked to take on responsibilities such as budgeting, policy, and regulatory issues,” Duncan says. “They have the technical background for their jobs but have never been trained to in these managerial duties.” She adds that, after this initial track is up and running, a second track—in healthcare education—will be introduced.

The BS in health sciences is expected to attract two categories of students—returning adults who are already working in the marketplace and want to upgrade their associate’s degree to a bachelor’s, and the more traditional student who choose a health sciences major as freshmen.

Medical studies designed as second bachelor's degree opportunity

The BS in medical studies is designed for students who have already completed one bachelor’s degree but are looking for additional preparation before applying to professional schools in the health field. These individuals may be career changers or recent graduates who decide to apply to medical, dental, or veterinary school, or to an allied health profession program, and need to fulfill their science prerequisites. While North Park undergraduates can currently choose a pre-professional track (for medical, dental, veterinary science, pharmacy, optometry, occupational therapy, or physical therapy programs), this is the first time the curriculum has been realigned as a post-baccalaureate degree program. The degree is a 56-credit major, allowing students to transfer credits from other bachelor’s programs and take only courses needed to complete the requirements for professional school applications. It is expected that students, who must take at least 30 semester hours at North Park, will complete the program in one to two years.

“To our knowledge, there is only one other post-baccalaureate program of this kind in the Chicago area,” Mouttet says, underscoring the unmet demand for a program that prepares college graduates to apply to medical school. The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is expected to change in 2015 in order to place a greater emphasis on the behavioral sciences. In preparation for this, the North Park program will offer students coursework and preparation in these disciplines as well as in the traditional science and mathematics areas.

Both new programs will carry North Park’s emphasis on providing small class and lab sizes as well as individualized advising that complements coursework. Faculty advisors will work with students to ensure that they stay on track toward their career goals, address any concerns as they arise and, in the case of medical studies students, prepare adequately for health care profession admission exams.

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