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New Health Sciences degree for 2013

New Health Sciences degree for 2013
August 8, 2012

A fresh new health science degree course at the University of Canterbury (UC) next year will help address the increasing shortfall in the New Zealand health non-clinical workforce.

From next year UC students will be able to study for a new degree in health sciences. The Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHSc) will be the only tertiary qualification in New Zealand which allows graduates to meet national competencies in public health and health promotion.

The degree had been set up to specifically address significant projected gaps in the non-clinical workforce, identified by the Ministry of Health, the Director of the Health Sciences Centre, Associate Professor Ray Kirk said today.

Similar challenges face the Canterbury health workforce, but with the additional challenge for the Canterbury health sector of earthquake recovery. The proposed BHSc is an essential component of the university’s contribution to Christchurch and Canterbury following the devastating earthquakes of 2010-11.

The BHSc will be a three-year broad-based non-clinical degree with opportunities in the final year for practical work placements. Up to 50 students are expected to enrol in the first year.

``This new degree is a bold illustration of the university’s commitment to being a nationally and internationally recognised provider of health sciences education at undergraduate and postgraduate level,’’ Prof Kirk said.

``Our Health Sciences Centre has a strong reputation as a provider in postgraduate health-related qualifications. Now we are establishing ourselves as a recognised undergraduate programme provider. That will mean there are enormous opportunities open to our students in a variety of health sciences’ disciplines.’’

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Graduates of the degree will have a strong foundation in the health sciences so they can operate effectively in New Zealand’s health workforce and related organisations. Students will have the opportunity to major in several areas, including public health, environmental health, psychology, Māori and indigenous health, health education or physical activity promotion. Double majors in some subject areas are possible.

There was scope for students to take the degree in areas they were most interested in. Some would be able to combine two interests into double majors. That flexibility was going to be something the students would respond to,” Prof Kirk said.

The degree would also prepare graduates to be informed consumers and potential health researchers. Entry to degree was open to all students with University Entrance. A background in health, biology and mathematics with statistics was recommended.

The degree has been designed to respond to the challenges facing the New Zealand health workforce, related to an ageing population and the impact of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.


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