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Top Online Health Care Schools

Health care is not limited to nursing or doctoral work. Health care is about providing care to the sick and keeping the healthy from becoming ill. The profession can include the administration of clinics or hospital wards, nutritionists and health educations teaching classes, such as Tai Chi, that help people live longer, healthier lives.

Degrees in many health care specializations can be earned through online or distance learning programs. For other programs that must be completed in a traditional setting, such as for a physician assistant, some courses can be completed online as can courses counting towards the continuing education requirement for state licensure.

Community dietitians provide broad health care education to entire communities or large organizations. These public health professionals provide health care on a wide scale, teaching people how to stay healthy and fit and treat common ailments related to a poor diet.

The only nutritional bachelor’s degree programs accredited by Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics that provide distance learning are available at the following five schools, in addition, they have been listed according to total enrollment size and student-faculty ratio based on data from the National Center of Educational Statistics for the 2010 academic year.

1.  University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
2.  Eastern Michigan University
3.  The University of Alabama
4.  University of Northern Colorado
5.  Kansas State University

In 2011, U.S. News & World Report its list of best undergraduate and graduate programs at colleges and universities throughout the United States, including physician assistant programs. Physician assistant education falls under the umbrella of health care training. According to U.S. News & World Report, the following universities had the best physician assistant programs in 2011 (*there were ties in the rankings):

1. Duke University
2. University of Iowa
2. University of Utah
4. Emory University
4 .George Washington University

Below are some of the health care focuses available from online schools and colleges through SchoolsGalore.com

Health educators and community dietitians

Health educators and community dietitians teach children and adults about behaviors and habits that promote a healthy life style. Sometimes they can create large scale health programs to prevent drug or alcohol use or to promote daily exercise and healthy eating while other times they may work one-on-one with a family or individual to determine what the proper course of action.

According to O*NET Online, 32 percent of surveyed dietitians said a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, foods and nutrition, or a related area was required for employment, 60 percent said a master’s degree was required and the BLS reports that a bachelor’s degree is required for an entry-level position as health educator. Degree programs can include classes in biology, physiology, human development and statistics. The BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) also says that a foreign language can be valuable for earning employment with some agencies.

The BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) also notes that many states also require licensure for nutritionists and dietitians and, for most states, earning the Registered Dietitian credential allows for licensure. For these states, the requirements for the credential meet or exceed the state’s requirements for licensure. There are only a few states that have either additional requirements or no requirements at all.

Certification as a Certified Health Education Specialist is offered by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. and is awarded after passing a test on the basic responsibilities of health educators. The BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) notes that the exam is aimed at entry-level health educators who have completed a bachelor’s degree. Continuing education is required to maintain the certification.

The BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) expects the employment of health educators to expand by 37 percent from 2010 to 2020. Growth is expected as a result of an increase in health and wellness promotion as a form of preventative health care. The national median salary of a health care educator was also reported by the BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) as $47,940 per year in May of 2011.

According to a 2009 compensation and benefits survey conducted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, nutritionists and dietitians employed for five years or less earned between $51,100 and $62,200 per year.

Physician assistants

Physician assistants work under the supervision of a licensed physician, much like a medical assistant, however, unlike a medical assistant a physician assistant has earned a bachelor’s degree (according to the BLS (BLS.gov, 2012), often in the field of health care) and has hands-on experience in the health care industry. Additionally, physician assistants are required to have completed a post-secondary program approved by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc.

Physician assistants are able to administer medicine and diagnose conditions in patients as well as perform minor surgeries or participate in major surgeries under the guidance of a licensed surgeon. Physician assistants may also supervise medical assistants and other medical office staff.

According to the BLS (BLS.gov, 2012), physician assistants are typically required to have a master’s degree although there are ARC-PA approved courses that award certificates or degrees lower than a master’s. Completing an ARC-PA course is the only way to currently be eligible for taking the physician assistant licensing exam.

While there are no online or distance learning programs available for a physician assistant education, according to the BLS (BLS.gov, 2012), maintaining state licensure requires continued education. Some of these continuing education programs are available online or through distance learning.

The BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) reports that the national median salary for a physician assistant, in May of 2011, was $88,660 per year and the highest pay went to those employed in specialty hospitals. The BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) also expects the profession to see an employment growth of up to 30 percent from 2010 to 2020. Job growth is expected to be twice as high as all other professions as physicians enter specialty areas of medicine and strains on health care providers the aging baby boom generation will generate.

Learn more about accredited health care programs from online schools and colleges through SchoolsGalore.com

When researching online colleges and universities, make sure to verify that your choice of school is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council or by another accrediting agency that approved by The U.S. Department of Education or The Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or both. DETC and CHEA both provide a searchable list of approved schools.


Sources and further reading:

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation

The U.S. Department of Education

The Distance Education and Training Council

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

O*NET Online

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs

The Institute for Credentialing Excellence

The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc