According to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (“5 College Majors on the Rise” by Karin Fischer and David Glenn), among five emerging undergrad majors are two health-related disciplines: Health Informatics and Public Health.
David D. Potenziani, senior associate dean for planning, coordination, and administration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Public Health, says he hears regularly from physicians and hospital directors who want to hire information-technology workers with a strong understanding of health-care delivery systems, and from public-health agencies who need specialists who can make sense of data, such as medical-reimbursement records, to ground policy recommendations. The university is considering what kind of health-informatics program it might offer.
In a 1987 essay titled “Epidemiology as a Liberal Art,” David W. Fraser, who was then president of Swarthmore College, argued that the study of public health offered an ideal way to teach about medicine in an undergraduate setting. Two decades later, Mr. Fraser’s essay seems prophetic. At least a dozen institutions have recently created undergraduate public-health majors. (Some of these, including fledgling programs at Yale University and the University of Virginia, are five-year hybrids that lead to both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in public health.) Between 2003 and 2007, the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in public health doubled, increasing from 1,322 to 2,639.
The article is available on line to Chronicle subscribers.