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Health Science Foundations

Health Science Foundations 1a: Introduction

Health science careers are not only in high demand, but they offer a diverse range of careers for all types of people interested in helping others. Acquire foundational knowledge required to pursue a career in the healthcare industry, and the education, training, and credentials needed to attain them. Learn basic medical terminology, principles of anatomy and physiology, and legal and ethical responsibilities. Explore communication, teamwork, and leadership techniques – providing a solid basis for those wanting to advance through the health sciences.

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Units at a Glance

Unit 1: Considering a Career in Healthcare? Finding the Right Role

A rewarding career is something every young person would like to look forward to. And while health science careers are secure, as even during economic downturns everyone needs health care, an even more exciting aspect to careers in this field are the various types of work available for all different kinds of people—introverts and extroverts, the mechanically-minded, caregivers, visual thinkers, good organizers, and especially those who work well under high stress. Not only can people with different personality types find a good career in this area, but also there are many entry-level positions that are in demand and that can lead to higher-paying jobs with more experience and further training. Health science is truly an exciting and versatile industry to explore—so let’s start the journey and discover the many career options in healthcare!

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Explain the concepts of the five career pathways in health science and provide examples of jobs in each category
  • Compare the roles and contributions of different members of a healthcare team
  • Research and assess the level of education and training required for specific healthcare jobs
  • Develop a logical potential career path in health sciences

Unit 2: Healthcare Today: The Business of Caring

Unique! Uneven! High-cost! Hybrid! Best in the world! These and many other phrases have been used to describe the healthcare system in the United States. There is some truth to all those statements, and with the complexity of our healthcare system, you can say lots more about it. Let’s learn how the many parts of the US system of healthcare fit together to deliver care to a diverse population. From the facilities to the levels of care, we will move on to consider how health insurance and government agencies fit into this complicated system. We’ll also take a dip into the history of medicine, explore the present, and even look at some of the changes that we expect to see in the future of healthcare.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Compare the services of different healthcare settings
  • Explain the government’s role in the US healthcare system
  • Distinguish between the delivery models of HMOs, PPOs, EPOs, and POSs
  • Analyze the economic factors affecting healthcare
  • Trace the origins of current health treatments to older practices from many cultures

Unit 3: Anatomy, Physiology, and Medical Terminology in a Nutshell

It’s all Greek to me! That’s a phrase you won’t need to say after you dip your toe into the world of anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology. Learning about the body is fun, but it is also exciting to be able to describe things using the precise terms that are used in the healthcare professions. We’ll learn the basic structure and function of the human body, giving you a foundation for all that you will learn in the future. Then we’ll journey into terminology, breaking words down into their parts to make them easy to understand. Mandibular fossa, anyone? Just a part of the jaw. How about cardiopulmonary resuscitation? You may already know that one as CPR, the lifesaving technique to restart the heart and breathing. Soon, you’ll know how to decipher any medical term you come across, no matter how complicated it looks!

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Trace the hierarchy of the structure of the human body, from atoms all the way up to the whole organism
  • Distinguish between anatomy and physiology, and discuss the relationship of these two fields of study
  • Explain homeostasis and give three examples of this process
  • Describe position and direction of movement in anatomical terminology
  • Decipher complex medical terms and build your own medical terms from prefixes, roots, and suffixes

Unit 4: Growth and Development Throughout the Life Span

The cycle of life—from birth to death—is a process of change and growth. Each stage brings challenges but also accomplishments and joy. Each of us is on this journey of life, and here, we will trace the needs of the tiniest humans all the way up to their great-grandparents, and everyone in between. We will look at what each stage of life needs, physically, psychologically, and socially. We will also learn two of the most prominent theories about growth and psychological motivation: Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Hop on for the ride and get an overview of the development of a human being through the life span.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Explain the physical, emotional, and social needs of babies, toddlers, teenagers, and adults
  • Predict healthcare needs throughout the life span
  • Debate the value of Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development in modern times
  • Apply Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to understand what motivates human behavior

Unit 5: Health and Wellness

Medical professionals only work with people who are injured and unwell, right? Wrong! Health follows a continuum from optimal wellness to severe illness, and everything in between. Today’s health professionals also focus on helping people develop healthy habits to increase their wellness. From eating well and exercising, to minimizing exposure, to substances and diseases, allied health workers can improve the health of a whole population with small interventions. Concentrating on physical, emotional, and social health can be an enjoyable part of any health profession as it focuses on planning for health rather than waiting for illness to set in.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Integrate healthy eating and regular exercise into daily habits
  • Assess and avoid the risks associated with using substances like alcohol, tobacco, and drugs
  • Reflect on the emotional reactions to illness and the stages of grief
  • Apply wellness principles to improve health and plan for wellness
  • Link the effects of chronic stress to physical health and strategize interventions for stress management

Unit 6: Effective Communication in Healthcare

“What’s up, doc?” We all communicate every day, through the words we speak and write and also through the gestures and expressions of our bodies. In healthcare, communication is key to serving patients—as errors are costly. Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States, and up to 30 percent of all malpractice cases report communication error as a factor. So it pays to have every healthcare worker learn the techniques needed to communicate effectively and clearly. In addition, learning to communicate no matter the barriers—whether cultural or physical or as a result of howone communicates—means that important objective and subjective information can be collected and used to treat patients. Once the information is gathered, it will be time to report the data, in both written and oral formats. With that, we will have a great start in learning how to communicate in healthcare settings.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Deconstruct communication using the sender-receiver model
  • Experiment with active listening and using open-ended questions in personal and school life
  • Articulate barriers to communication in healthcare settings, including cultural factors
  • Adapt your body language to build trust in a professional setting
  • Categorize objective and subjective data and report events in the order of occurrence

Unit 7: Health and the Law

What would you do if a patient refused treatment that would save their life? How would you handle it if your best friend asked you questions about a patient at your clinic? Just because someone is a patient does not mean they are passive—patients participate in their care and they have rights. Respecting patient rights and autonomy is an important part of the job. Get the inside scoop on informed consent and that weird beast of a law—HIPAA—that helps keep patient records confidential. Knowledge is power, so learn the laws that apply to the health professions and learn how to protect yourself from criminal or civil liability. Plus, find out what employment laws will keep you safe and happy on the job.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Advocate for your rights as a patient
  • Explain the components of HIPAA to keep patient information safe
  • Debate the legality of actions a healthcare worker might take
  • Role play situations with legal and ethical implications for health workers
  • List workplace rights and responsibilities that apply to healthcare employees

Unit 8: Ethical Responsibilities

Do the right thing! That’s what we should all do all the time, but in healthcare, there are ethical guidelines that help us figure out what that ‘right thing’ is. Complex matters of life and death come up every day in healthcare settings, providing ethical dilemmas which require thought and consideration to sort out. Thankfully, each profession and each healthcare institution has a code of ethics to help workers find the most beneficial and least harmful course of action. Learning how to recognize and deal with ethical dilemmas, from the life-threatening to the daily small decisions, is something that all healthcare professions can use. In fact, these ethical conundrums are some of what make the healthcare field so interesting and challenging, no matter what career you choose. Fasten your seatbelts and come along as we explore ethics in the practice of healthcare.

What will you learn in this unit?

  • Apply ethical principles to healthcare decisions
  • Compare and contrast scope of practice and codes of ethics
  • Debate the ethics of technological advances in healthcare
  • Reflect on how empathy is related to ethical principles in healthcare

Required Materials

Computer with:

    • Internet access
    • Slideshow program (PowerPoint, Keynote, etc.)
    • Word Processing Program (Microsoft Word, etc.)
  • Digital camera or camera phone with photo and video/audio capabilities
  • Large piece of paper or poster board
  • Markers, pencils, and other drawing/writing implements
  • Drawing paper or magazines to cut up
  • Glue or tape
  • Scissors
  • A volunteer (friend, family member, neighbor, etc.)
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