Syllabus: Students Learn About Opportunities in Booming Health Care Field

Posted: January 28, 2010 at 1:02 am, Last Updated: January 27, 2010 at 4:46 pm

By Marjorie Musick

Tim Henderson

Tim Henderson wants his Introduction to Careers in the Health Professions students to know about the ample job opportunities available in the booming health care field.

Henderson is a faculty member in the Department of Health Administration and Policy and acting deputy director of the College of Health and Human Services’ Center for Health Policy, Research and Ethics. He developed the course and has taught it for two years with Emil Chuck, Mason’s health professions and premedical advisor in Student Academic Affairs.

“The health care industry is growing in both size and complexity, and there are a multitude and variety of professionals who are being trained to have a career in this demanding industry,” says Henderson. “The intent of the course is to provide students with a practical introduction to several of the more than 50 professions now working within this field.”

In addition to acquainting students with careers, the course provides an overview of the health care system and the current supply and demand for various trained professionals. Students also learn basic medical terminology and are provided the latest information on training and licensing requirements, entry-level salaries and the rights and responsibilities involved in caring for patients.

“Students want to know certain things about the professions, such as, what are the real opportunities? What’s the demand out there for, let’s say, being a dentist or a pharmacist? What will they get paid? So we provide them with answers to these questions, and we also bring in guest lecturers who are working in those professions. Students can spend time with the speakers and ask them questions. We really try to make this as interesting for the students as possible,” says Henderson.

Henderson notes that since nursing and social work are offered in Mason’s College of Health and Human Services, these topics are of major interest to his class and have been well represented by guest lecturers. Over a dozen professionals from the health care field are invited to speak to each class about their careers as well as the paths that led them there.

Anita Pollard, a nurse and recruiter with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Prisons, visited the class and talked about her role as a registered nurse who supervises health care professionals within all federal health care facilities. According to Henderson, it is because of speakers like Pollard that attendance in the course doubled since its first offering in 2008.

“Ultimately though, what we want to get them to see is the importance of working in interdisciplinary teams. If someone goes into the hospital and they are staying for a couple of days, the typical patient will be exposed to a variety of different health professionals who are there to serve them. All of these roles need to work together to best serve the patients’ needs,” says Henderson.

Write to gazette at