Employment Opportunities and Student Competencies
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics “Employment of healthcare occupations is projected to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.3 million new jobs. Healthcare occupations will add more jobs than any other group of occupations.”
- Health experts believe that lifestyle medicine will play a key role in the future of healthcare.Healthcare workers lack training to address lifestyle, chronic conditions, and behavioral health. The Lifestyle Medicine major will include competencies in lifestyle medicine, wellness coaching, and health navigation.
- Lifestyle Medicine Majors will be well positioned to enter a variety of health care settings and can choose minors that complement their interests.
Wellness coaching competencies are included in the Lifestyle Medicine Major. Wellness coaching is a field that assists people with making healthy lifestyle behavior changes. The National Board Certification for Health and Wellness Coaches launched in 2017 and is “accelerating the professionalization of this emerging field, and enabling the growth of an evidence base. Reputable coach training and education programs have joined this endeavor. The national certification allows proficient coaches to stand apart from coaches who have not received adequate coach training or assessment of their coaching skills and knowledge” (ICHWC, 2017). Current median annual salaries for health coach/health educators are $53,070 and are $78,210 for Wellness Coordinators (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: O*Net, 2017).
We are currently applying for permanent phase approval, for students who complete the Lifestyle Medicine Major to be eligible to take the National Board Certification for Health and Wellness Coaches. MSU Denver’s Wellness Coaching Minor currently has transitional phase approval with the ICHWC.
Health navigator competencies are included in the Lifestyle Medicine Major. Health Navigators (HN)(also known as Patient Navigators and Community Health Workers) are community members who are trained to support patients in obtaining the appropriate resources for their health care needs. “They address barriers including access to health care, insurance or lack thereof, poor health literacy, transportation, child care and more.” “Research shows that health navigation…reduces health disparities, improves patient engagement with their health, enables patients to get the care they need, improves health outcomes, and reduces healthcare costs.”(www.cdphe.gov)
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) Patient Navigator Workforce Development Initiative includes Patient Navigators in the Public Health Workers (PHW) category, and identifies that by 2020 there will be a need for 225,000 additional PHW’s nationally. A 2014 policy statement from the National Conference of State Legislatures estimates there are 48,000 Community Health Workers with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a market growth of 25% by 2022.
Lifestyle medicine competencies are covered within the Lifestyle Medicine Major. While there are not official undergraduate bachelor’s level lifestyle medicine competencies, the competencies covered by the major reflect the health professional lifestyle medicine competencies used by medical schools and have been modified for undergraduate students.
Health Professional Graduate Schools
A Lifestyle Medicine Major is a great opportunity for students interested in graduate health profession education. In order to apply for most graduate programs, prerequisites are needed. A MSU Denver Pre-Healthcare minor can be designed to include prerequisites for most health graduate programs and is a great complement to a Lifestyle Medicine Major.