A career in health care is extremely rewarding in being able to help patients and their loved ones, as well as earning a comfortable salary in doing so. There are many paths to take to begin a career in health care, although two of the main ways is obtaining a degree in health science or a nursing degree. Depending on your goal career in health care, you may want to learn the differences between a health science vs nursing degree and what jobs they can help you obtain.
Health Science VS Nursing
A health science degree can be an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree or master’s degree. With no prior health care experience, a health science degree will give you a foundation in both clinical and non-clinical skills by taking courses such as psychology, ethics, biology, nutrition, human anatomy and physiology, statistics, medical terminology and microbiology. Students who enroll in health science degree programs can go on to obtain further education and training to become health care professionals like chiropractors, pharmacists, ultrasound technologists, occupational therapists, physician assistants, pharmaceutical salesmen, care managers and patient advocates. An associate degree health sciences program can be a great start to become a registered nurse.
If you hold an associate’s degree in health care already, such as a respiratory therapist or physical therapy assistant degree, earning a bachelor’s degree in health sciences will expand your skills. If you don’t want to do direct care, you can move into healthcare management or go on to nursing school. A bachelor’s will also give you the credentials needed to apply to many graduate schools for advanced degrees in different fields of health care, like physical therapy or physician assistant programs.
Nursing vs Health Science Degree
Like health science degrees, there are several levels of nursing degrees, ranging from certificate programs for licensed practical nurses (LPNs) to doctorate programs for doctors of nursing practice (DNP). The amount of training you receive as a nurse dictates your duties, the types of settings in which you can seek employment and the amount of leadership you can exercise. For example, LPNs are limited to working mainly in hospitals, nursing homes and outpatient clinics, where they perform basic patient care duties like changing bed linens, drawing blood, minor wound care and helping patients with daily life activities. A nurse who holds a master’s degree in nursing can diagnose medical conditions, order medical tests, perform in surgery and prescribe medications. Nurses with higher degrees are more specialized and typically cannot change their specialty without requiring further education, whereas nurses with certificates, associate degrees and bachelor degrees can change their specialty (such as changing from medical/surgical to the emergency department) with little issue.
Although the two degrees will both land you a fulfilling career in health care, they are two completely different paths. One path, a health sciences degree, opens the doors to working in both clinical and non-clinical settings in a variety of positions, from eventually attending medical school to reviewing patients’ insurance claims. A nursing degree opens many doors in the field of nursing, from directly helping patients with their needs to supervising other nurses or teaching nursing students in the classroom. A nurse’s role can take many forms. Regardless of the path you choose, you are bound to find a position that fits your personality as a health care provider.
Nursing and health science aren’t the same, but these two degree types share much of the same early curriculums. This often causes people to question is nursing health science or is health science nursing. However, understanding the differences between these two degree types can help prospective students, career seekers, or career changers come to a decision that works for their current and future goals.
What is the Difference Between Health Science and Nursing?
Broadly, nurses provide care to a patient, often directly. A health science degree typically leads to someone becoming an educator to people concerned about their health, or someone who works in the larger healthcare field in general. A nurse will usually work in an environment where they will have to come into contact with patients and provide them with the care they need to heal.
Nurses provide education as well, but that education will benefit their patients. A health science educator will educate people more broadly in many ways. For example, a health science educator may prepare educational materials or develop a curriculum for teaching healthcare to others.
Potential applicants seeking a career in the health care industry should keep in mind that the healthcare industry includes a staggering number of occupations and career types. Applicants should have a goal in mind when it comes to seeking education in this field. Health science and nursing represent two of those career types. Despite some overlap, especially during early education, these two things aren’t the same.
A nursing degree program serves to prepare someone for a career as a nurse, whether as a CNA, LPN, RN, NP, or DPN. Within the healthcare field, nursing has its own way of educating, training, and preparing applicants for a career in the nursing field. Nursing education and careers typically require adherence to specific regulations and guidelines that can vary by state. Nursing programs must have accreditation by a group recognized and approved of by regulators, which typically comes down to ACEN or CCNE.
Many nursing degree programs help to train students for what they will need to do before they can legally work as a nurse in any capacity. For example, to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN), a student will need to earn their nursing degree, then apply for a nursing license, and take an exam. This process isn’t the same in all places. Applicants who know they want to pursue a nursing career should make sure they understand the process of becoming a nurse in the locality where they want to work as a nurse.
A nursing degree is specifically for those who want to pursue a nursing career. The nursing career path is unique compared to other healthcare degrees. Knowing that nursing is the thing they want to do will help students make the appropriate choices when looking at nursing degree programs.
Prospective students should keep in mind that nursing has a broad range of career paths. As healthcare evolves, the need for specialization in nursing grows. Continuing education for every level of nursing also exists. This means it’s possible for those in the nursing field to continuously learn, grow, and become more valuable to employers in the field or within a niche of the nursing field.
Some wonder, is nursing considered a science major? A BSN stands for Bachelors of Science in Nursing. Nursing programs require science classes, particularly biology and some chemistry, by necessity. You may also wonder, should I major in nursing if I’m bad at science? For those who want to become a nurse, then there’s no reason not to pursue a nursing degree. A good nursing program will provide the education someone will need to understand the nursing science and apply it properly.
Nursing represents one of the most rewarding careers. In addition, nursing represents a career path that becomes more rewarding as time goes on, especially for those who continue their education, earn more advanced nursing degrees, or go into specializations. That all works to answer the next frequently asked question. Is nursing a good major? For the reasons listed, nursing is an excellent major, especially for those passionate about helping others.
Health Science Degrees
Health science encompasses various career types in the healthcare field. A health science degree prepares someone to take on roles in both clinical and nonclinical settings. Because of the wide range or careers associated with healthcare, a health science degree program will usually lead to students choosing a specialization. Consider that health science literally refers to applying science to health, which can mean a very large number of things.
Someone with a health science degree can work in the clinical field, directly with patients, in an administrative position at a private insurance company, or anywhere else. The health science degree represents a launching pad for those who want to work in or advance in the healthcare industry, but not necessarily for those who want to become nurses and pursue the unique educational and advancement paths available to nurses.
A prospective student would choose a health science degree if they want the best chance at starting with an entry-level healthcare job. A healthcare science degree will also work well for those who plan to pursue higher degrees.
Most times, a health science degree program is precisely what people mean when they say “pre-med.” This is because health science will typically represent the preliminary medical education someone will need to have before they attend medical school.
For these and other reasons, most health science degree programs put an emphasis on students choosing the electives that fit best with their goals. Some programs have specific tracks or concentrations to help students gain a better understanding of a specific area of health science. Or for students to see what types of career paths exist based on the classes they must choose from.
In a health science degree program, students learn things like administrative skills and ethics. The programs prepare students for leadership roles and teach them what they need to know to navigate the healthcare field, no matter which of its career paths they choose. Is health science a good major on its own? Yes, it is. A health science degree opens a lot of doors in the healthcare field.
Nursing and Health Science
Is nursing health science? No. Nursing degrees have a focus on the sciences, but a nursing degree has a far different track than a health science degree. Is health science nursing? No. Health science has a broader healthcare outlook that someone can apply to several career choices.
Nursing is its own discipline and has its own track for advancement. Despite this, both degree types can start in the same place and, as they are both integral parts of healthcare, there’s sometimes a little overlap.
What Kinds of Careers Can You Get with a Health Science Degree?
Because of its broad nature, a health science degree offers numerous potential career paths for students and healthcare job seekers. Sometimes, the degree can work to help someone already working in the healthcare field to advance or earn a promotion. Note that a health science degree also prepares prospects for work in both clinical and non-clinical positions.
Some career examples can include:
- Medical writer
- Healthcare administration
- Health educator
- Dental hygienist
- Physical therapy assistant
- Health information technology specialist
- Community health specialist
Generally, for any career in or adjacent to the healthcare field, especially at the entry-level, a health science degree can help someone down that career path. Understand that health science degrees exist at the associates, bachelors, and master’s level. So, it’s always possible to advance down a healthcare career path or move between healthcare careers with some additional education. The financial aid payback will be worth it!
Can You Become a Nurse with a Health Science Degree?
Some may wonder, can you become a nurse with a health science degree? Usually, the answer to the question is no. However, it’s sometimes possible to become a nurse with a health science degree in some locations, provided the applicant also takes a dedicated nursing program.
However, when this works for an applicant, it’s usually only to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN or LVN). Those who want to become a registered nurse (RN) or a nursing specialist will have to earn a nursing degree. A nursing career will stop at the CNA or LPN level for those who do not earn a dedicated nursing degree beyond their health science degree.
This isn’t always the case and can vary between states. The process probably won’t work for some trying to transition an associate’s in health science to nursing. There’s sometimes an avenue toward becoming a nurse with a health science degree, especially a bachelor of health science degree. The degree may fulfill some prerequisites required for a nursing degree. The applicant can then find a program that fills in the prerequisites they lack.
Applicants will still have to pass an exam, usually the NCLEX, and do what’s necessary to meet their state’s licensing requirements. The nursing program will usually prepare students to take the exam or provide certification. Some accelerated nursing programs exist specifically to prepare people with a bachelor’s in health science or a related degree to gain the additional training they will need to register as a nurse.
Can you be a nurse with a health science degree? At the end of the process, an applicant will still have their health science degree. So, yes, it’s possible to start a nursing career while holding a health science degree. As one of those degrees similar to nursing, a health science degree only adds to a nurse’s repertoire of skills and knowledge.
- 25 Best Health Science Bachelor’s Programs
- 15 Best Online Health Science Bachelor’s Programs
- 10 Fastest Online Health Science Bachelor’s Programs
- 25 Best Traditional BSN Degree Programs
15 Best Online BSN Degree Programs
10 Fastest Online BSN Degree Programs
10 Most Affordable BSN Degree Programs
- CNA Degree and Educational Guide
- What is the Difference Between a CNA and an LPN?
- How Do You Become an LPN?
- What is an LPN?
- What are BSN Career Options for RNs?
- What Can You Do with a Medical Assistant Associate Degree?
- 25 Best Nutrition Bachelor’s Degrees
- 10 Most Affordable Online Nutrition Bachelor’s Degrees
- Best Online Nutrition Certificates
- What Jobs Can You Get With a Health Science Degree?
- Best Types of Counseling Degrees
- Kinesiology and Exercise Science Salary
- What Can You Do with a Human Service Degree?
- CNA Degree and Educational Guide
- What Can You Do With a Master’s in Psychology Degree Program?
- 10 Cheap MSN Online Programs