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5 Healthcare Degrees and Career Paths Outside Nursing

by Jared Newnam
January 24, 2017

A career in healthcare isn’t only for nurses or doctors. With the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics (BLS) expecting the creation of 2.3 million healthcare jobs between 2014 and 2024, you have many options for pursuing a career in healthcare. If you’re drawn to helping others and bettering your community but practicing medicine isn’t for you, below are five healthcare degrees that can prepare you for other rewarding healthcare jobs.

1. Public Health Degree

With a public health degree you can prepare for a career where you work to improve health across local, national, and global communities and to make a large-scale impact on the world.

Public health career options are diverse, with opportunities to conduct disease research, influence legislative and social policy, solve health-related problems, and develop and lead programs that promote healthy lifestyles and teach disease prevention. Job growth and salaries in the field likewise vary, according to the BLS. For example, job growth for epidemiologists (who research diseases) is projected at 6%, about as fast as the average for all occupations, whereas health educators and community health workers can expect higher job growth at 13%. In 2015, epidemiologists saw a median annual wage of $69,450, with health educators at $51,960 and community health workers at $36,300.

While a Bachelor of Science in Public Health can help you to get started in this field, some public health occupations require a Master of Public Health degree.

2. Healthcare Management Degree

Healthcare managers plan, direct, and coordinate healthcare services, with leadership and administrative duties that are critical to the health of institutions and individuals. To prepare you for this responsibility, healthcare management degree programs teach both industry-specific knowledge and foundational management competencies involving critical thinking, analysis, and decision-making.

According to the BLS, medical and health services management is a growing and financially rewarding field, with an above average job growth of 17% and a 2015 median annual wage of $94,500. While a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management can equip you for many positions, the BLS notes that some employers prefer individuals who also have master’s degrees.

3. Psychology Degree

Fascinated by what makes people tick? Earning a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology is the first step toward a career in psychology, or the scientific study of what drives human behavior. A bachelor’s psychology degree can prepare for you for entry-level positions in psychology—like counselor aide, therapeutic assistant, career advisor, or caseworker—or for continuing on to graduate school. Other jobs, such as psychologist or clinical counselor, require advance studies beyond an undergraduate psychology degree.

While a psychology degree can lead to many careers, the BLS predicts a 19% job growth for psychologists and reported a 2015 median annual salary of $72,580 for this position.

4. Physical Therapist Assistant Degree

A physical therapist assistant career allows you to work one-on-one with patients under a physical therapist’s supervision. In this role, you would support and train patients with therapy exercises and activities, treat patients using special equipment and procedures, and report on patient progress as you help guide them back to health.

Beyond enjoying a fulfilling career, physical therapist assistants can expect to be in demand, with the BLS projecting an impressive 41% employment growth. In terms of median annual salary, physical therapists assistants brought in $55,170 in 2015. To pursue this career, you’ll need to complete an Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assistant degree program and fulfill state licensing requirements.

5. Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree

While physical therapy assistants typically focus on patients recovering from injuries, occupational therapy assistants specialize in helping patients build and recover skills required for daily life. Work under the guidance of an occupational therapist, occupational therapy assistants may:

  • Help children with developmental disabilities become more independent
  • Assist older adults with physical and cognitive changes
  • Teach patients how to use special equipment
  • Perform patient evaluations and support ongoing patient care

The BLS also anticipates promising growth for occupational therapy assistant careers with a 43% rise in employment. In 2015, occupational therapy assistants also reported a median salary of $57,870. If you’re interested in this rapidly growing career path, earning an Associate of Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant degree should be your first step, followed by pursuing any state licensing requirements.

Explore Your Options for Healthcare Programs at South University

With an academic tradition of excellence that’s lasted over 100 years, South University has helped to prepare thousands of students for success in the healthcare field. Here, you’ll discover over 25 campus-based and online programs that can equip you for a career in healthcare. To learn about the healthcare degrees offered in South University’s College of Health Professions, College of Nursing and Public Health, and even our College of Business (with graduate and undergraduate healthcare management degree programs), call us at 1.800.688.0932 or request information today.

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Student Bobby Porter Inspired by His Own Experiences to Give Back

by South University
May 21, 2015
What does South University mean to me?

Like many South University students, Bobby Porter feels strongly about giving back to his community and helping the individuals within it. In fact, he was drawn to studying psychology through his own experience of raising a son diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD), and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Currently in his third year of the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology program at South University, Savannah, Bobby has plans to pursue a master’s degree and then a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, so that he can eventually achieve his goal of helping children who have multiple disabilities. Somehow, between classes, his own family time, and everything else that makes up a full schedule, he’s already started working on a book intended to help families with children that simultaneously have Asperger's Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder—a book he hopes will “give parents a better understanding on what all we have gone through over the past 16 years and let them know they are not alone in this big world.”

With over 26 years of prior experience as an EMT, First Responder, and Lieutenant for a Volunteer Rescue Squad and Fire Department, Bobby has already made a tremendous impact on the lives of many, and now he’s hoping his experience of keeping people calm in traumatic and trying circumstances will also be applicable in his future psychology career. More recently, he’s been volunteering with the American Red Cross, this time focusing on providing emotional rather than physical.

“It’s all about giving back,” he says, recalling his family member’s pasts as firefighters, paramedics, and doctors. “That’s how I was taught. For years, my dad, my granddad, my whole family has been devoted to volunteer work.”

Bobby is also working on an initiative to start educational programs on topics like healthy eating, teen peer pressure, and other important topics—something he decided to do after calling local organizations and police departments looking for a DARE group or something similar and coming up empty handed.

“I was in one of those programs growing up, and it worked really well for me. I ended up teaching that same program for years, and I want to continue that tradition,” he explains. He’s also built up his own educational website at as a resource for parents and other psychology students.

Education is another cause he feels strongly about and something he sees as a powerful tool for achieving your goals. At one point, Bobby’s wife suffered an injury that left her unable to work, leaving their family in tough times. “I knew I had to take control and do something. I had to find a job and a career that could get me out of the situation I was in. The only way I could do that was to get more education under my belt,” he explains. For Bobby, this decision has changed his life, helping him to discover his passion for psychology and leading him to inspire his own college-age daughter to pursue a degree at South University as well.

He says, “What you achieve and what you learn at South University, you’ll carry it with you the rest of your life.”

For more from Bobby, read his essay “What does South University mean to me?”.

See page for program duration, tuition, fees, and other costs, median debt, federal salary data, alumni success, and other important info.

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What does South University mean to me?

by South University
May 17, 2015
What does South University mean to me?

Written by Bobby L. Porter
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology student
South University, Savannah

We live in a land of opportunity, and each of us needs to take advantage of the many opportunities we are given to form a brighter future for ourselves. To me, South University is my opportunity to further my goals. Having a chance to attend school and get an education that will prepare me for a rewarding career is priceless.

If, as individuals, we fail to realize our ability to positively impact the surrounding world—from minor to major transformations—it will be nearly impossible for communities to evolve into stronger versions of their current selves. But, when we realize our potential to change the world around us and pass along our knowledge from present to future generations, we ensure the efficient progression of society.

In the current information age, I believe education is the key to societal advancement. South University encourages social and economic progression by preserving the American dream of opportunity and giving us the tools to succeed. I have learned that going back to school and getting my education through South University is only beneficial if I am persistent, work hard, and fully utilize this opportunity. It is the individual who decides what to do with the capability to learn; using it wisely will lead to positive improvement.

Furthermore, South University encourages democratic ideals by giving students the freedom to explore and ask questions. I have learned that I can succeed by questioning what I do not understand and taking advantage of opportunities to expand my realm of knowledge. South University inspires me to break boundaries in order to fully utilize my abilities for personal and societal improvement.

I would not have accomplished as much as I have at South University if it wasn’t for my Admissions Representative, Christine Smith. She was the first one to see something in me and help me to get the ball rolling and admitted to my first class. The next person to have a large hand in my success is my Student Finance Counselor Bill Pettis, who was able to help me find the finances I needed to attend the university. Lastly, I would like to thank my Academic Counselor Pamela Stamer for her ability to keep my academic skills polished, fine-tuned, and work to prepare me to develop into a graduate student.

Now the time has come to hand down the torch to my daughter. I still remember the day we brought her home after being at the hospital for over 120 days. Now she is 19, out of high school and entering her first classes in a school that I know will treat her with the upmost respect. That school goes by the name of South University. By going to this school, I believe she will secure a brighter future and a chance to live the same American dream of opportunity that has been given to me through South University.

In closing, I would like to say thank you to South University for being a part of our educational success and for giving my family the chance to have a future.

See page for program duration, tuition, fees, and other costs, median debt, federal salary data, alumni success, and other important info.

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What causes the winter blues?

by South University
December 5, 2013

As the days get shorter in the winter, many people start feeling lethargic and begin to crave warmer weather and a good dose of sunlight. For a large number of individuals, however, dreary weather can trigger something more serious--Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly known as SAD.

Winter Scene

What Is SAD?

SAD is a form of depression with symptoms that start during the fall and continue into the winter. Some individuals also experience symptoms as early as the spring and summer. According to many experts, SAD is caused in part by a lack of sunlight disrupting the sleep-wake cycle, circadian rhythms, and the brain’s serotonin output.

Who Is Affected

Anyone can experience SAD, including children. However, some individuals are more prone to experience SAD than others, including those with one or more of the following traits:

• Female
• Age 15-55
• Live in a region where winter days are short
• Live in a region where changing seasons cause significant changes in the amount of daylight experienced
• Have a direct relative with SAD

Symptoms & Diagnosis

Differentiating between SAD and nonseasonal depression can be difficult since both have similar symptoms. Typical fall and winter onset symptoms may include:

• Difficulty concentrating
• Social withdrawal
• Oversleeping
• Lack of energy
• Hopelessness
• Depression
• Anxiety
• Weight gain
• Changes in appetite
• Lack of interest in activities usually enjoyed
• Heavy sensation in arms and legs

To properly diagnose SAD, a doctor will need to know whether the patient experiences symptoms specific to the disorder or experiences depression during the same seasons for multiple years which then improves after the seasons change.

Treatment & Prevention

The treatment for SAD commonly includes phototherapy (a bright-light treatment or dawn simulation) for 30 to 90 minutes a day, sometimes combined with anti-depressant medication or psychotherapy. Spending at least an hour outside daily during fall and winter months can also help individuals with more mild symptoms gain the proper amount of light exposure. Taking Vitamin D supplements and probiotics to reduce stress is another tactic that can prove beneficial.

Read More

Can children experience seasonal affective disorder?
A Portable Glow to Help Melt Those Winter Blues
Seasonal Affective Disorder Sufferers Have More Than Just Winter Blues
Seasonal affective disorder: What are the symptoms and how can you treat it?
National Alliance on Mental Illness: Seasonal Affective Disorder
American Psychiatric Association: Seasonal Affective Disorder
Mental Health America: Seasonal Affective Disorder

Interested in a career in Psychology?  Get your start in South University's Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree program.

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The Psychology of Deception

by South University
October 22, 2013

Do lies have a functional purpose in life? Despite what your parents told you, pscyhologists think that, in some situations, telling the whole truth may actually set you back.

Telling a lieNot only that, but research shows that lying is more common than you might expect. A study led by Dr. Bella DePaulo found that people lie an average of twice per day. Over the course of a week, the average person tells a lie to roughly one out of every three people they talk to one-on-one.

Society can reward little white lies.

Like it or not, we've created a world where telling the truth does not always get you ahead. Lies can actually make it easier to get along with the people around you, evidenced by study results showing that people regularly lie for others' benefits.

DePaulo found that it's quite common for people to lie for no other reason than to make others feel comfortable. Women do this far more often than men, who were found to lie more in order to improve their own reputations. In fact, a conversation between two men typically involves eight times as many lies about themselves than about anything else.

Even people who are told little white lies benefit from the lies. A study published in the April 2012 edition of the Journal of Consumer Research demonstrated that people who were lied to were later treated with more kindness and generosity. It's not that we don't know we're lying; we know, and many times we feel badly enough to let it influence our future behavior.

Detection is difficult.

Despite shows like Lie to Me making it seem easy to discern the truth, most people can't pick up on the difference between honesty and deception. Charles Honts, a psychology professor at University of Idaho, Boise, explained that most people do three things when they're trying to come across as honest: (1) look their conversation partner in the eye, (2) stay calm and (3) blink infrequently. However, there are just as many people who naturally do the opposite when they lie, so people trying to guess someone's guilt or innocence in a conversation are generally wrong half of the time.

Lies are here to stay.

The ease with which we can mislead one another and the prevalence of lying make dishonesty an element of our society that is not to be ignored and is not going away anytime soon. Do most people tell lies to succeed, however? Personal gain doesn't seem to be the motivation behind most lies, and repeated lies can certainly come back to haunt you in your professional and personal life. Instead, evidence overwhelmingly suggests that we lie more for others and for the sake of everyone getting along--instead of getting ahead.

Interested in Psychology? Learn about our Bachelor of Arts in Psychology online degree program.

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