Majors and Minors Home
About the Major
Professional health sciences prepares students for careers in healthcare administration. They can also work toward graduate programs in such fields as medicine, midlevel healthcare, occupational therapy or physical therapy, or toward a master’s in public administration.
Jobs in Professional Health Sciences
- Hospital or clinic administrator
- Health insurance company administrator
- Pharmaceutical representative
- Medical supply representative
- Hospital manager’s assistant
Student’s Path to Professional Health Sciences Leads from Deer Camp to Clinic
A deer hunt, of all things, sparked Will Wiggins’ interest in medicine. As a youngster, he tagged along with his dad to a hunting camp. There, he watched a family friend who happened to be a medical student field-dress a deer. The med student identified each organ and explained what it did.
Wiggins was enthralled. “It was really neat and definitely, as a kid, had a huge impact on me.”
A decade or so later, he headed to the University of South Alabama. “I had friends who went to South, and they just raved about it.”
He wanted to be a radiologist. Then reality set in. “It’s a very difficult program,” he said. And long: 12 years of schooling in all.
His sophomore year, he switched to professional health studies with a concentration in healthcare management, thanks to academic advisor Linda Stearns. “She broke it down and walked me through it and explained what the potential roles could be within that major once I graduated.”
“I had friends who went to South, and they just raved about it.”
Until then, he had thought that hospital CEOs and other top healthcare administrators needed a business degree. In his new major, he did learn general management theory and practice. His professors also covered such healthcare-specific topics as compliance with legal, ethical and professional standards, and dealing with health insurers and regulatory agencies.
“Most people don’t know this,” Wiggins said, “but the healthcare sector is arguably the second-most-regulated industry in the world.”
His first position after graduation was administrator at the Grove Hill Healthcare Clinic in his hometown, Grove Hill, Alabama, an hour north of Mobile. He then worked for two medical practices in Mobile before becoming administrator at Mobile Ob-Gyn, a nine-physician practice that treats women from adolescence through adulthood.
“Every opportunity was better than the last,” he said, “so I couldn’t turn them down. It has been incredibly rewarding.”
Did You Know?
- A bachelor’s degree in professional health sciences alone prepares students for a wide variety of careers in not only hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices but also long-term care facilities, health insurance companies and many other kinds of businesses.
- The academic advisor for the major can help students decide whether professional health studies is right for them and provide help with everything from high school preparation to career possibilities.
- Students who are members of the Society of Healthcare Management Club help each other with advocacy, resources and networking opportunities.