Health care is one of the most rapidly growing and cost intensive fields in the United States approaching 17% of GDP. Rapid changes in demographics, medical advances in technology and medical science with tremendous pressures to assure regulatory compliance and quality care have increased the need for more educated, more committed and more compassionate people to enter this field. This is especially true of individuals focusing on long-term care, chronic illness, rehabilitation medicine, ambulatory services, health promotion and wellness, whose health care services are directed toward long-term care and chronic illnesses. At the turn of the century to 1900, infectious diseases were considered the most significant threat to public health. However, at the turn of this past century to 2000, chronic illnesses are among the most major concerns for the health care industry. In fact, of the present expected life span of 76 years, most Americans will live with some sort of chronic illness for approximately 13 years.
The B.S. in Interdisciplinary Health Services (IHS) prepares students for a wide range of health care positions in hospitals, health departments, health agencies, research facilities, schools, and industry. The majority of IHS graduates proceed to clinical or graduate school to study allied health fields, such as nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, physician assistants, pharmacy, and public health. Schools which IHS graduates attend include Drexel University, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Rutgers University, Temple University, Thomas Jefferson University, University of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Pennsylvania and Virginia Tech. Of the graduates who seek employment after graduation, 61% of graduates work in the fields of health/ medicine/ biotechnology, 17% in human and community service, 11% in insurance and 11% in education or government. Graduates work as health administrators, managed care analysts, medical assistants, program coordinators, patient service representatives, and patient care technicians.
Based upon the interdisciplinary nature of health services, this program will consequently provide a comprehensive foundation in natural sciences, public health, the health care system, and social sciences. Students will be introduced to a broad spectrum of health issues including sociocultural influences on health, health behavior and management, the systems of health care, legal and ethical concerns, health promotion, environmental influences on health, nutrition, mental health, life cycle health, alternative/complementary medicine, and epidemiology. This major provides students with the flexibility to design an individual program of study based upon interests and career goals, and there is considerable flexibility within the program to complete prerequisites needed for graduate programs in health-related fields and to minor in biology, chemistry, psychology, sociology or business. Students majoring in IHS are encouraged to participate in study abroad and an internship near the completion of the degree requirements.