The University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents approved Kennesaw State President Dr. Pamela Whitten’s request to add a Bachelor of Science degree in integrated health science at KSU Tuesday, April 14.
The degree is set to be offered in the Fall 2020 semester, according to KSU News. Integrated health science will be housed within the WellStar College of Health and Human Services’ Department of Health Promotion and Physical Education.
“We are very excited to offer KSU students another health-related degree option at KSU,” Department Chair Dr. Kandice Porter said. “This new undergraduate degree is designed to meet the strong student demand for additional degree options with a healthcare focus at KSU, a robust job market, and lack of similar educational opportunities in the region.”
Porter said that the degree takes an innovative multidisciplinary approach, allowing students to take an integrated and diverse approach to examine issues of healthcare. By doing this, the integrated health degree cultivates student knowledge and skills.
Beyond the College of Health and Human Services, other KSU colleges are included in the degree’s curriculum.
“The IHS major makes efficient use of existing KSU coursework in several academic programs, including those found in WCHHS, the Coles College of Business, College of Computing and Software Engineering, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and College of Math and Science,” Porter said.
Students who major in the degree need to take six new courses to fulfill the major’s requirements. Some of these classes include the economics of healthcare and interprofessional education.
Porter said that in light of the COVID-19 crisis, the need for healthcare workers is vital in the United States and Georgia in particular.
“Georgia is projected to have the second highest growth in jobs in the healthcare industry in the nation,” she said. “Healthcare will lead all industry sectors both in terms of new job growth and rate of growth. By 2026, one-fifth of all new jobs created in Georgia will be in healthcare. Healthcare is one of the few occupational categories that will see annual openings due to new job growth exceed those needed to replace workers.”
With a degree in integrated health sciences, graduates are eligible to follow non-clinical career paths such as working in medical and health services management, patient/client navigation, infection control manager and much more.
The IHS degree at KSU came to be when KSU Provost Dr. Kathy Schwaig assembled a task force to address the high rate at which KSU undergraduates left KSU, and University System of Georgia institutions in general, if they were not accepted into the KSU’s nursing program.
When barriers prevented students in the health field from choosing other health-related majors, the task force looked at trends in other universities. Those trends showed that interdisciplinary health degrees were being offered for students who were interested in working in clinical and non-clinical healthcare, Porter said. Enrollment rates for the degree grew exponentially in a very short time.
Porter said that she hopes for the continual growth of the degree at KSU and that the IHS degree “serves as a ‘springboard’ that provides the necessary background to prepare students to work in a variety of health care settings.”