National Consortium for Health Science Education Experts on Trends Blog Feature
Anne Kuser

By: Anne Kuser on November 19th, 2014

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National Consortium for Health Science Education Experts on Trends

Health Science | NCHSE

It was a busy National Consortium for Health Science Education Conference a few weeks ago in Denver. While there, I had the opportunity to ask some experts to answer a couple of questions about trends that I want to share with you here. Responding to my questions were Carole Stacy, Nancy Allen, Cynthia Sundstrom, and Pat Thieben.

Carole Stacy is the Executive Director of NCHSE from Okemos, MI. Nancy Allen is the Associate Director of HOSA--Future Health Professionals from Southlake, TX. Cynthia Sundstrom, MS, RN is the Coordinator of Health Science Education and State HOSA Advisor in the Office of Career Technical Instruction in WV. And Pat Thieben is a Health Science Consultant at the Bureau of Adult, Career, and Community College Education in the Iowa Department of Education.

1. What do you think about the current/future job market for healthcare? Do you see any trends?

Carole Stacy: The job market in healthcare will remain strong. Retirements in all healthcare sectors will continue to increase opening up positions for new hires. Healthcare employers may require more specific certifications and may offer employments on short term or per diem assignments instead of full time long term employment.

Each job in healthcare will morph into a new version of the position. The healthcare system will need to accommodate increased numbers of patients within the same time-frame as before more efficient ways of processing patients and paperwork will be expected. Patients will be expected to take a greater role in managing their health and their healthcare including their charts, insurance payments, scheduling of appointments, etc.

Nancy Allen: According to the US News and World Report article, The 38 Best Jobs in Health Care for 2014," if you are looking for a job, there will be plenty of openings and needs in this career field this year and in the future.

The raising demand for support staff for top-tier professionals, the Affordable Care Act, home health care needs for aging Americans, and affordable quality care are driving employment increases throughout many career specialty areas included the health science career cluster.

The top five health jobs this year according to this article are: 1) dentist, 2) nurse practitioner, 3) pharmacist, 4) registered nurse, and 5) physical therapist.

Cynthia Sundstrom: The future job market for healthcare is very good. However the trend I see is that the majority of the positions that will be needed in healthcare will be the lower paying ones such as personal care aides, home health aides, nursing assistants, etc. The good news is that these are great stepping stones to a professional career in health care. The LPN or VPN will be asked to do more with the RN’s taking on more and more of the administrative work and less hands on care. APN and PA will be more in demand especially in rural areas where physicians are unable to meet community needs.

There will be a greater need for Health Information Technologists as their role is developing with the electronic health records. Also medical laboratory technicians/technologist, RN, LPN, physicians will be needed as the work force ages. Telemedicine is already being used and I see the Google Glass integrated into all aspects of health care to enhance communication. I do feel that healthcare will change its delivery modes in the future--it must for cost containment. What does that mean for graduates looking for jobs? The need will slow down with the results being who knows what.

Pat Thieben: Currently, the job market is not large but I have not heard of students not finding employment. It is anticipated that employment opportunities will grow in the next two to three years. Many people did not retire when the market tanked and as the economy improves, those people are now putting in for the retirement. This will create a large demand in the health care industry in Iowa.

2. Do you see any trends/issues that may affect curriculum?

Carole Stacy: Education will be asked to meet the needs of this new healthcare environment by national consortium for health science eduationchanging how and what students are taught. Putting more responsibility for learning on the learner. We see this occurring now with the “flipped classroom” being more the norm than the traditional classroom.

More opportunities for online learning where one faculty can teach many more students than in face-to-face classrooms. Another trend is teaching Concept-Based-Curriculum (Caputi or Giddons) rather than specific diseases or content but an over arching concept, for example the concept is oxygenation and under that concept would be taught pneumonia, asthma etc. 

While secondary has been using a core curriculum for many years postsecondary is now looking to have all students entering a program in health sciences take a core set of classes or content that is generic to healthcare i.e. ethics, terminology, anatomy etc. (H2P project).

Nancy Allen: The National Prevention Strategy, outlined in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is shifting America's healthcare system from one based on sickness and disease management to one focused on prevention and wellness. The emphasis will be to stop diseases before they start and allow Americans to be healthy and fit. 

Simply put: a shift from healthcare to health. The National Prevention Strategy identifies seven priority areas requiring immediate focus to improve Americans’ health:

  • Tobacco-free living
  • Preventing drug abuse and excessive alcohol use
  • Healthy eating
  • Active living
  • Injury- and violence-free living
  • Reproductive and sexual health
  • Mental and emotional well-being


Curriculum will need to follow this trend to adequately prepare this next generation of health professionals.

Cynthia Sundstrom: I think the trends that will affect curriculum will involve more digital and project based learning curriculum to engage the digital natives. The time of standing at the front of the room and trying to teach the way we were taught is over. We can no longer be in charge of the students learning. Learning must be the students responsibility.

We as educators must provide them with ways to learn that involve inquiry and intrigue. We must assess in different ways, not just a written exam.

Although industry may not change their certification exams to anything but written exams, that does not mean that we as educators cannot assess in different ways.

We have to get out of our comfort zone to enhance industry and technological changes to assure our students the education they deserve.

In my world, if I were queen of the country of Health Science Education, I would not dumb down the curriculum, but work with the students to come up to where the bar is set. Then I would let them explore the different careers until they find one that fits them, not one that mom or dad wants them to do or one that I am offering a certification for. Too often we try to put a square peg in a round hole. Then we would start learning the standards, but not in a 24 seat classroom with all the seats in a row.

There would standing workstations and interactive stations that would hone in on each standard. There would be a virtual classroom where the students could go to medical school for a day, take an anatomy class as part of a University or go to clinical virtually.

We limit ourselves, our brains, our students, their abilities and shrink their brains by not realizing that there is so much more to this global and universal community we are a part of.

We can’t possibly know of everything, but wouldn’t it be nice to open up the limitless horizons and opportunities to our students?

Pat Thieben: For our secondary schools, we are trying to ensure our students are ready to succeed in a post-secondary program and get some hands-on work as well. In the community college programs, we are still working on the RN to BSN initiative for nursing to try to ensure that students can go on and get their BSN. Many hospitals in Iowa are now requiring their nursing staff to get their BSN within a certain time frame.

Some are assisting with the cost, some are not. There is no additional pay for the BSN, but it is necessary to keep their jobs. This affects the curriculum at the CCs because we have certain requirements in length of programs, number of credits they can have, etc.

Trying to ensure that the students can continue on requires stricter entry requirements and a change in the courses offered.


So there you have it... Experts from the National Consortium for Health Science Education conference sharing their thoughts on industry and education trends. Did you learn something new today?

Our sincere thank you to our expert contributors for taking the time to answer our questions. Your input is invaluable! 


About Anne Kuser

Anne has been with AES for 21 years, and is an Account Manager for schools in Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. Originally from England, she now works remotely from South Carolina, and enjoys the southern life and hospitality...Y'ALL!

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