Top 5 Reasons Health Science Should Be the #1 Funded Career Cluster
Health science is one of the most popular career clusters in career and technical education (CTE).
It attracts hundreds of thousands of students every year from all kinds of backgrounds and with all manner of career ambitions.
But there’s one big problem – health science departments are often the last to get funding from school administrations.
To be honest, we don’t know.
At Applied Educational Systems, we have a community of more than 1,000 health science teachers, and they all have incredible experiences of stretching their classroom budgets to the limit.
They also talk about how many students they have and how many careers there are in the health care industry.
So that got us thinking.
Why isn’t health science the #1 funded CTE career cluster?
We don’t know – but here’s why it should be.
Video: Jim Schultz on the Importance of CTE Health Science Programs
AES President Jim Schultz has worked in education for more than 30 years. He knows what he’s talking about.
But if Jim doesn’t have you convinced, check out some cold, hard facts.
1. Health Care Careers Are in Demand
Numbers don’t lie.
Health care careers are the #1 fastest growing sector of the American economy.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Better yet, health care careers aren’t slowing down.
If anything, they’re going to increase at a greater rate than the past decade.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
This is happening for a number of reasons.
Most notably, the United States is supporting its largest aging population in national history. Those aging individuals are encountering all of the problems that occur when your body gets older.
Unfortunately, aging is medically complicated. That’s why Americans are becoming more conscious of their health, especially when it comes to medical treatments.
That means the US needs a lot of medically-trained personnel to support the need for preventive and curative medicine.
Nursing, phlebotomy, medical assisting, rehabilitation, office management, and other skills all help medical students achieve the career of their dreams.
All of those skills are also in demand more than almost any others – especially home health care and nursing.
So unlike other CTE clusters that have declined in popularity as their industries have left the country, health care careers have skyrocketed.
Is your school keeping up?
2. Health Science Classes Are Popular
Because health care careers are so in-demand in the US, it only makes sense that students want to pursue those careers.
Health science education provides an affordable education for a fulfilling career with a salary that lets someone provide for a family.
In other words, it’s the embodiment of the classic American dream.
Health science students are in the classroom because they want to help others in some way. With in-class preparation and on-the-job experience, they can quickly become professionals in their chosen career – literally!
If someone has a passion for helping others – even if it’s behind-the-scenes medical testing – there’s a place for them in today’s health science classroom.
But even with the number of students interested in health careers, there are still more job openings in health care every single day.
Best of all, these careers are being filled by an enormous range of people.
That’s because health science students are some of the most diverse in any educational setting.
3. Health Science Students Are Diverse
Photo credit: Erika Greene
Regardless of where a health science instructor teaches, they all use the same word to describe their classrooms.
This word applies to a number of different qualities about students. Learning speed, ethnic backgrounds, financial backgrounds, family backgrounds, and even primary languages all fall under this umbrella.
As a result, health science classrooms can have a huge mix of students with even more differences, even if a class only has a dozen students.
That means the teacher has to work extra hard to help each student succeed.
Some students might get the material right away. Some may need some extra remediation and enrichment.
Others may be eager to learn and get their hands on practical exams too, while some may have rough attitudes and need an extra push to succeed.
One of the biggest challenges is connecting with students who don't speak English as their native language. It could take these students some extra time to work through materials, and they may not do well on assessments — but that doesn’t mean they’re bad students.
In fact, they could be the hardest-working students in the classroom. But language barriers are hard to conquer, especially when it comes to complex topics like medical terminology.
That’s when health science teachers need a resource that caters to those students. Written content, text-to-speech services, and translation software are all helpful tools for ESL students.
But they’re still no substitute for the best part of any health science department -- the passionate teacher.
4. Health Science Teachers Are Dedicated
Photo credit: Kathy Regan
In the 30-year history of Applied Educational Systems, we’ve never once heard a health science teacher say “It’s just a job.”
If anything, we hear the opposite. Teaching health science is a lifestyle. Health science teachers are happiest when they’ve helped their students.
Some instructors get excited about certification rates.
“Since I’ve been using HealthCenter21 as a resource this year, I have 100% Advanced on the NOCTI exam.” – Michele Dominic, Carbon Career and Technical Institute
Other teachers want to see their students getting involved in their own education.
“What I get excited about is when students are actively and purposefully engaging in online learning. The student-centered instruction can be tailored to meet the needs of all my students.” – Kathy Regan, Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School
Some teachers want students to do portions of classwork on their own.
“The other day I said, ‘Do you want me to lecture or do you want to get the laptops and do HealthCenter21?’ They said they wanted to do it on their own, so they got the laptops. They’re working by themselves. That’s a good way for them to be engaged.” – Erika Greene, Meadowcreek High School
Health science teachers do it all, and they do it that way because every student in their classroom works differently. They know that students work at their own paces, and some of them need a little more time for information to really stick with them.
That means these teachers will do anything they can to help their students succeed.
Health science teachers have the empathy, passion, and caring to get 100% of their students through their classes, with the right resources.
Teaching health science takes a lot of work, and not everyone is cut out for it.
That’s also why health science departments tend to be so small.
5. Health Science Departments Are Small
Health science education is a double-edged sword. It’s popular with students, but there's usually only one health science teacher at a school.
But because health science is so small compared to other career clusters (like manufacturing), that makes funding health science easy.
A health science course can take place almost exclusively in a classroom and a small lab. Teachers can differentiate student pacing as well, which maximizes the efficiency of their resources.
So while a teacher is lecturing in the classroom for one lesson, half of the students can work on the practical skills work.
Then, they can switch.
This flexibility is possible (and sometimes required) because health science departments only include a handful of staff members.
Most importantly, that means one health science teacher can handle roughly twice as many students as a lab-only or classroom-only career cluster.
For non-public secondary institutions that run like businesses (like career and technology centers), that translates to an opportunity for profit.
An in-demand career cluster with one or two salaries and lots of students means more tuition going into a school and fewer expenses.
In that way, it’s in an administration’s best interest to fully fund a health science department.
It has promise, it has potential, and it gets results.
With all of that in one career cluster, it’s a wonder health science isn’t fully funded everywhere!
Get Funding for Your Health Science Classroom
We always hear teachers saying they can’t get funding for their classrooms, regardless of what they want to buy.
But Kathy Regan — an experienced nurse and now veteran instructor — learned the best ways to reach her administration so she could get the money she needed to help students succeed.