Massey University is changing the face of healthcare learning in New Zealand with the introduction of a revamped Bachelor of Health Science degree. It is designed to equip students for a vast array of emerging careers in the health industry at home and abroad.
“This is the leading edge,” says Professor Paul McDonald, Massey’s Pro Vice-Chancellor, College of Health. “It’s a progressive programme designed to train people to solve 21st-century health problems and take up 21st-century careers. This is the future – the next generation of education and career preparation.”
The Bachelor of Health Science has been offered at Massey for a number of years but McDonald says it was time to completely reinvent the course. “We teach you how to take a big-picture, holistic view of health, allowing you to explore the many factors that affect health and how these interact with each other. This is called ‘systems thinking’ and it’s leading edge.”
Students will be taught in small classes by international leaders in their field using the latest combination of experiential, classroom-based and technology-enabled learning. Students can select up to two specialisations in health promotion, public health, environmental health, occupational health, disability and rehabilitation, integrated biological foundations of health, psychology, and health and ageing, as well as Māori and indigenous health. It’s a three-year degree with an option to do a four-year honours. And you don’t necessarily need secondary school science to study.
“We have majors designed for people from all different backgrounds, with or without science.”
Some graduates will go on to postgraduate degrees in areas such as epidemiology, health evaluation, microbiology, toxicology, alternative healthcare and environmental health. Others will move on to study medicine, dentistry and pharmacology. Many graduates will go directly into high-paying careers as policy analysts, community developers, international health workers, health promotion specialists, health research associates, occupational health specialists, environmental health officers, health inspectors and disability case managers.
McDonald says graduates will also be prepared for “emerging jobs” such as health analytics, health technologists, interventional microbiologists, and designing, planning and evaluating healthcare systems. They will work for District Health Boards (DHBs), government ministries and agencies, private businesses as well as non-profit agencies such as the Heart Foundation or the Cancer Society.
Bronwyn Thornton Hume, a former student, says she chose the degree as it “offered a platform for many different roles and careers”.
“I always liked the idea of working in the health industry and using my skills and knowledge to help people.
“The programme was challenging in the best sense. It challenged pre-conceived ideas and theories and helped me understand health from a much broader perspective. It was also relevant – the skills I learned were transferable to the working world.”
Thornton Hume now works as an emergency assistance co-ordinator. In her role she assists people who find themselves in an emergency situation overseas, whether it be advising on the nearest hospital or helping to arrange an air ambulance back to New Zealand. She is also working towards her master’s degree.
The course is available by distance learning or at the Massey Wellington campus.
Details can be found at massey.ac.nz/studyhealth.