Health impacts everyone’s lives, which means, in turn, so does healthcare. With this in mind, it is clear that healthcare education is a vital part of society; but with the ever-changing and progressive healthcare industry, has education caught up, or is it still lagging behind? This piece will highlight some of the ways in which healthcare education has changed, and what needs to be updated in order for it to meet the demands in society.
Healthcare Has Never Stopped Changing
It is true that healthcare has never stopped changing and continues to be one of the most dominating industries in America. Not only that, but the healthcare industry changes at such a speed that it would be hard to imagine education catching up before it changes again.
Some of the changes include consistently updated federal pay rules and cost increases for medicines; not forgetting all of the new technology that has been introduced into healthcare over the years. With the speed at which technological advancements and healthcare-related discoveries are made, the way in which people are educated about healthcare has also had to evolve in order to keep up.
The History of Healthcare Education
As with most new concepts, in the beginning, the progression of healthcare was propelled by a basic understanding of assumptions and ideas.
Hints of healthcare education can be seen dating back to 1763, where the importance of exercise was taught in private grammar boarding schools. However, while this was not an isolated incident, healthcare education remained scarce.
The years 1787-1780 are the most tangible timescale in which healthcare first became solidified into education, and in 1975, Richard Means released a vital statement released in a healthcare report that would shape the beginning of healthcare education:
“Every child should be taught early in life, that, to preserve his own life and his own health and the lives and health of others, is one of the most important and constantly abiding duties.”
“Everything connected with wealth, happiness, and long life depends upon health; and even the great duties of morals and religion are performed more acceptably in a healthy than a sickly condition.”
After this report was released and read by governing bodies, it was clear that schools could play an important role in controlling and managing disease within the community.
The 1860s saw the outbreak in smallpox, which certainly shifted the drive for healthcare education into a faster gear. The outbreak continued to devastate well into the 1900s and while a smallpox vaccination was created, the means of providing it to those who needed it were not in place.
It became apparent at this point that schools had become a source of concern when it came to the spreading of disease, with health officials agreeing to inspect schools’ sanitary conditions. From here on, there was somewhat a “hands-on” approach to healthcare education, with officials slowly but surely working through different discoveries and putting the first ever healthcare strategies in place.
By the 1900s school nurses had been employed, children were treated on school property, and medical inspections were conducted in quantities of entire classrooms.
This was, of course, an important and extremely pivotal progression towards both healthcare and healthcare education, but it was only around the late 19th century that healthcare education was implemented in schools in terms of talking to children about the effects of alcohol and tobacco on the body.
Slowly but surely, the healthcare education sector advanced in leaps and bounds, with the early 20th century seeing specialist schools pop up for specific healthcare needs such as medical clinics and dental clinics.
A Pivotal Point in Healthcare Education
Healthcare education truly came into its own in the latter half of the 20th century, with mandatory education based on mental hygiene, the importance of posture, nutrition, and sex hygiene. Healthcare education soon became a vital and substantial part of the school curriculum, which has continued with momentum to this day.
“There is now an outstanding level of healthcare education available.”
What Does Healthcare Education Look Like Now?
Looking back on the history of healthcare education, it is apparent that the system has grown significantly. Students now have the luxury of specializing in many niche areas of healthcare, and can even study to PhD level with plenty of college and access courses to aid a change in career.
The advancements in technology have also played a crucial part in the progression of healthcare education, not just because of the many incredible machines and software that have radicalized the way information is collected, but also because for the first time in history, people have the ability to find out anything online, to talk to others within varying medical professions around the world, to share ideas, and to have access to unlimited amounts of journals, papers, books, and medical concepts.
Because of this, the healthcare education industry is now second to none and it is also tailored to students who would like to study a specific niche within the healthcare sector. For example, students may choose to specialize in optometry, the lungs, the brain or they may decide to enroll on one of the DNP midwifery programs that are available. The prospects and career path choices are endless.
Is it bad to have too much choice? Not when it comes to healthcare education.
Due to the availability of in-depth, well researched, and grounded specialized courses, those who go on to be a professional in their chosen niche can provide expert care that otherwise may have resulted in an illness being overlooked or misdiagnosed, which is truly a wonderful progression for healthcare.
The impact of these changes has altered healthcare education like never before, as now there are recognized healthcare governing bodies, educational institutions, and a standard of quality and accuracy that has never been able to be implemented before.
Will Healthcare Education Continue to Change?
Healthcare education should continue to change for as long as healthcare does. However, the rate at which healthcare progresses in the modern world could make it difficult for education to progress at the same pace, so more strategies need to be put in place in order for education to be as up to date as possible!