Health literacy isn’t just for doctors going to medical school, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Health is an extraordinarily complex topic, including not only the treatment of illness for individuals but also the links between individual wellness and society. As the current crisis is demonstrating so urgently, understanding those connections and the way that illness is spread are critical to protecting public health.
Other links between individual health and society includes the availability of health services, safety of the built environment, emissions of pollution and toxins, and other factors. Protecting the health of people and the communities in which they live is thus the work of professionals across a variety of fields, including medicine, public policy, engineering and design, social science, safety research, and more. For instance, public health historians are playing an important role today in helping to highlight important differences between COVID-19 and more limited recent outbreaks like H1N1, as well as parallels to past global epidemics such as the Spanish Flu of 1918.
For this and other reasons, health is a major growth industry, with a wide range of job opportunities. Major factors driving growth in health jobs include the health crises, like epidemics and pandemics, as well as long term factors such as rising life expectancy and incomes in countries around the world. This increases demand and expectations for quality healthcare. And as we gain more and more data on the connections between individual choices, external risks, and health outcomes, new opportunities are emerging at the intersection of healthcare and technology - or “healthtech” - to come up with innovative new approaches to stopping the spread of disease and improving wellness.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as an aging population, rising incomes, and other long-term factors, health is a fast-growing industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare employment is projected to grow much faster than other industries, increasing by 14% from 2018 to 2028. This translates into 1.9 million new jobs. Those government estimates cover a broad range of careers in health, including growth in diverse jobs ranging from urgently-needed doctors, nurses, epidemiologists, and pharmacists to careers unrelated to COVID-19 such as athletic trainers, chiropractors, dentists, nutritionists, midwives, massage therapists, occupational therapists, and many more.
These wide-ranging official estimates don’t even cover every opportunity. Jobs in health can also include public health advocates, designers and engineers, data scientists, and many other professionals whose expertise intersects with protecting the wellness of individuals and/or communities more broadly. All in all, there’s never been a more important time to pursue a career in health. With the advent of online learning platforms like Coursera, it’s never been easier to build your expertise in this important and exciting topic, no matter what field you are currently working in.
Online learning platforms like Coursera give you the ability to advance your education in practically any field - including health-related topics ranging from personal wellness to public health policy, as well as clinical research. Learning remotely via online platforms can have considerable advantages over on-campus alternatives, including lower costs and greater flexibility in pursuing the exact same level of education.
As the world’s leading online education platform, Coursera offers courses as well as full degree programs from top-quality universities and companies recognized around the world. Individual courses cover everything from nutrition to exercise to child rearing to psychology and more, all from highly-ranked institutions like Yale, Stanford, and the University of Pennsylvania. You can even enroll in Masters of Public Health (MPH) degree programs from Imperial College London and the University of Michigan. Regardless of whether you want to improve your health literacy for your own benefit, to help your community, or for your career, Coursera has online learning options to fit your needs.
A background in science, particularly biology or human anatomy, could make it easier to learn more about the patient-oriented side of health care, while business administrative experience could help if you're interested in health care management. Basic knowledge of the human body and its systems can be beneficial as you learn about the best ways to improve your health. With a background in chemistry, you could expand your training to include clinical lab analysis and medical research. Critical reasoning and logical thinking skills can also help you when exploring a science-driven field like health.
People who have a strong background in science and math often do very well in health-related professions. These courses of study require strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and those traits are essential to most health-related professions, including those related to hospital administration, health insurance, and other business-driven areas. A compassionate nature and a genuine desire to help people are essential characteristics for those who want to work with patients. Behind the scenes, immense curiosity and a strong desire to solve puzzles could lead to monumental discoveries in medical research.
Interesting topics related to health include nutrition, exercise, first aid, addiction, drug and vaccine development, clinical trials, and contact tracing. If you want to expand your general understanding of basic human biology, you could learn more about bioinformatics, which includes the genes, proteins, and genomes found in your DNA. To learn more about the structure and organization of health-related businesses, you could consider topics on health care trends, patient safety, leadership, and management.
The most prominent types of businesses that hire people with health backgrounds are those directly related to the medical field, such as hospitals, physicians' practices, clinical laboratories, research laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, and pharmacies. However, people with training in health-related fields typically have analytical and reasoning skills that also make them valuable assets to many other types of businesses, including consulting firms, technology firms, and financial firms. Insurance companies also like to capitalize on the experience offered by those with a background in health.