Springfield, Ohio – Wittenberg University students pursuing careers in the health professions now have an extra edge in their field thanks to the a new health sciences minor offered by the Department of Biology. Designed by Professor of Biology Cathy Pederson, the minor gives students a well-rounded perspective of the medical field by offering courses in the humanities and providing a wide range of hands-on learning opportunities.
In keeping with Wittenberg’s liberal arts tradition, students who choose the health sciences minor will step out of the “hard science” component of medicine and gain a deeper understanding of the entire field.
“We created the minor to help students interested in one of the health professions broaden their perspective by taking a variety of interdisciplinary courses, in addition to their prerequisites for professional schools,” said Pederson.
The minor is designed to better prepare students for further education in a range of medical professions, including biomedical ethics, chiropractic medicine, dentistry, genetic counseling, hospital administration, allopathic and osteopathic medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, physician assistant, podiatric medicine and public health.
“Having a focused health sciences minor definitely helps in landing jobs in this particular field,” said Associate Professor of Biology and Pre-Health Advisor Matthew Collier. “It also allows students to explore health-related fields other than ‘straight up medicine,’ such as hospital administration or the economics of health care.”
The health sciences minor consists of two parts: broad-based course work and significant professional experience. The course work gives students a strong foundation in basic science while allowing students to take other classes based on their interests. Students can take classes in many departments, including English, psychology, and even theater and dance.
The second major component of the minor is the opportunity for hands-on learning through a clinical internship in the community or by working with a Wittenberg faculty member on a medically-related research project. These opportunities allow students to explore in-depth a health-related field or topic of interest to them.
“This kind of one-on-one experience with a mentor in the health profession of their choice is a wonderful opportunity for our students,” said Pederson.
Every semester, 20 internship positions are available in the community. Students are paired with a professional mentor whom they accompany on daily rounds and other daily activities. At the end of the internship, students present their work publicly.
“These experiences are eye-opening and really help our students identify the type of health- related career they want to pursue,” Collier said.
The health sciences minor became available to students in the fall 2010 semester.
“As for the future, we are always looking to make our pre-health professional program stronger,” said Collier. ”We hope to establish cooperative agreements with several graduate medical programs and expand our clinical internship program. And we are seeing our Pre-Health Professions Club become more active than it has been in the past.”
Written By: Laura Johnson ’11 and Gabrielle Antoniadis