Pacific Union College expands its educational offerings in health care with two new programs designed to help pre-professional and allied health students advance their careers.
The Bachelors of Science in health communication is designed for students who wish to combine a pre-professional track and a communication degree. Housed in the communication department, the degree will offer students a broad background in interpersonal, intercultural and organizational communication, as well as communication research. This concentration will be useful to students who intend to pursue health-related careers requiring broad knowledge of scientific concepts, as well as the strategies and technologies for designing and delivering effective communication.
“We are on the forefront of a growing field,” says Michelle Rai, chair of the communication department. Most health communication degrees are only available in masters-level programs, but PUC faculty wanted to equip students with health care-specific skills before they began their graduate programs.
Although the major will be available in fall 2013, its pre-registered ranks are already growing. Linda Lumintaintang, ’14, a student who plans to pursue a career in pharmacy, is one of many students excited to enroll in “a major that has both science classes and communication classes as requirements.”
Recent PUC alumni note the benefits of balancing their science-based careers with a communication degree. “I wanted an undergraduate degree that would help me throughout life and broaden my knowledge of more than just science,” says communication major Jeremy Lam, ‘13. Allison Uniat, ‘13, a fellow communication major who is pursuing clinical pharmacy, says, “I am a more developed and skilled speaker, which is important when conversing with patients and collaborating with physicians.” Lam and Uniat recently gained early acceptance into Loma Linda University School of Medicine and Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy, respectively.
The A.S. degree in health sciences is new to the 2012-2013 academic year. The degree provides pre-professional students with a strong foundation in the life and social sciences, complementing their preparation for allied health careers.
With it, the newly combined nursing and health sciences department “looked for a way to do two things,” explains Shana Ruggenberg, the department chair. First, the new program provides a departmental home for pre-allied health students, with the consistent advising and sense of community available in other college departments. Second, it offers a PUC degree to students who have finished prerequisite education at PUC before they continue on to their allied health program of choice.
The A.S. degree in health sciences means that students such as Roxana Crespo, ‘13, will be able to leave PUC with a degree, rather than just the prerequisites required for acceptance into an allied health program. Before admission into an allied health program, students are required to complete a series of prerequisites instead of, or in addition to, a specific undergraduate degree.
“The first day I met Roxana, she came almost dancing into my office, so excited to leave PUC with a degree,” says Vicki Saunders, a nutrition instructor. Saunders teaches two core classes in the program, Introduction to Allied Health and Issues in Allied Health, and saw the former’s class size double from 36 students to 52 students in the first year.
Both the new B.S. in health communication and the A.S. in health sciences are examples of how PUC provides an education relevant to today’s developing health field. Whether teaching the communication skills to lead a health care team, or ensuring that dedicated students leave college with a degree, PUC continues to thoroughly equip students for careers in health care.