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The Differences Between Nursing & Healthcare Science

by Kate Prudchenko

The health care industry offers a variety of career options for motivated and energetic individuals who want to make a positive impact on people’s health. Two possible careers are nursing and health care science, which is a degree that prepares students for a career in health education. The primary difference between the two is that nurses primarily provide direct care to patients while health science educators work to help people learn how to keep themselves healthy. While nurses can sometimes work in an educational role, the health science educator has the education to develop educational materials and curricula.

Nursing Career

Nurses are one of the most sought after professionals and have a variety of different career options. There is a large demand for nurses who provide direct care to patients in settings like nursing care facilities, physicians’ offices, home health care services and hospitals. Nurses who have advanced degrees can get positions as medical or health services managers. They plan and coordinate the delivery of health services and may manage a department or an entire facility. Registered nurses can earn an average of $58,000 to $66,000 a year.

Nursing Education

Degree options in nursing range from associate degree and certificate programs to doctorates in nursing practice. All nursing curricula have a core science requirement, including classes like biology, chemistry and human anatomy in addition to the classes in nursing practice. As students progress through the bachelor’s and master’s programs, the courses expand to cover specialized areas like maternity nursing, oncology and geriatric care. Bachelor’s programs normally take four to five years and prepare graduates to become registered nurses. An additional two years in a master’s program qualifies graduates to become nurse practitioners.

Health Care Science Career

A degree in health care science is designed to prepare students to become educators who promote healthy lifestyles, disease prevention and risk awareness in schools and the community. Graduates from health care science programs may teach health education classes in primary or secondary schools, in hospitals and health facilities, or in community organizations. They also write and develop teaching materials and curricula for health classes, as well as informational brochures for distribution to the general public. The average salaries for health science educators is between $35,000 and $55,000 per year and the rate of new job openings in the field is much higher than average.

Health Care Science Education

The coursework in health care science education combines a substantial number of basic science and health topics with courses in educational theory and methods. To learn the substance of health science education, students take courses like chemistry and biology, as well as physiology and human anatomy. These classes form the basis for courses like human sexuality, drugs and culture, and nutrition and community health, which are more focused on the specific topics a health care educator is likely to address. Students also take courses in educational theory such as measurement and evaluation in health education that teach students how to assess the efficacy of instructional materials and how to evaluate student performance.

About the Author

Kate Prudchenko has been a writer and editor for five years, publishing peer-reviewed articles, essays, and book chapters in a variety of publications including Immersive Environments: Future Trends in Education and Contemporary Literary Review India. She has a BA and MS in Mathematics, MA in English/Writing, and is completing a PhD in Education.

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