When I was a kid, my grandmother told me she had a feeling that I would be the grandchild who became a doctor and cured her various ailments.
Unfortunately, after a few classes in first year biology, it was pretty clear that medicine would only ever be in my bathroom cabinet, not on my resume.
I was in an arts program, but getting disillusioned with the pursuit of medical school was an experience that I shared with my friends in the health sciences degree program.
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Going in, everyone thinks they’re going to be the next House or Meredith Grey, but somewhere between anatomy and the determinants of health maybe you changed your mind.
Outside of the course material that you get from a degree in health sciences, grads also earn group problem solving, statistical, computational, communication and organization skills, according to Simon Fraser University. These job-relevant skills are in addition to the practical knowledge you learn on a range of health science topics and concepts.
So with all these skills and abilities, what kinds of health science degree jobs are out there?
There is always the option of going on to do further education either at the masters or doctorate level, but if that’s not your style, there are a number of ways that you can put your healthsci knowledge to work.
A bachelor’s degree in health sciences is no BS, so be sure to consider the following if you’re looking for a career after convocation.
Health science jobs in government
Health encompasses more than just the one-one-one doctoring of patients and, in the provincial and federal government, there are thousands of employees who can attest to that fact.
Government health agencies deal with everything from food safety to public health outbreaks. Health Canada in particular states that it hires “people specialized in pure, applied and health sciences” for a variety of departments, including First Nations and Inuit health, as well as the veterinary drugs directorate.
Getting into the government may rival med school in terms of current acceptance rates, but once you’re in, there is a lot of room to grow a great career.
Health science jobs in health research
If you still want to don that crisp white lab coat every morning, health research has the dress code you’re looking for. Research agencies like the Canadian Institute of Health Research hire health researchers and health research administrators. In many cases, students can lay the groundwork for a lab career during their undergraduate degrees. Anisha Sinha did just that.
While completing the biomedical science program at the University of Ottawa, she got a position as a summer student in a cancer research lab at Ottawa General Hospital. She started working in the lab to help earn her honours and managed to turn it into a post-graduation job opportunity which applied the theoretical health sciences that she had learned to a hands-on research setting.
Ultimately, Anisha opted to attend McMaster University’s MBA in health services management, but she says that the lab experience was incredibly beneficial for getting an idea of what research entails and rounding out her experience in the health sciences. “The good thing about working in a lab is that it gives you a lot of skills that are transferable,” she says, citing her experience analyzing data, conducting trials, making her own protocol and presenting her findings and key points that she brought up in her MBA interview.
Health science jobs at non-profits
Just because you are no longer on the path to becoming a doctor doesn’t mean that you can’t help people.
According to the University of Western Ontario’s list of career possibilities for their health studies grads, the non-profit sector includes health organizations such as the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Canadian Cancer Society and World Vision in addition to various health councils and fitness organizations. With your knowledge of health issues and your ability to care for others, this may be the right fit for you.
Other health science career options
- Program promotion officer
- Environmental health officer
- Health and safety officer
- Occupational health specialist
- Public safety representative
- Public health inspector
- Restaurant inspector
- Health promotion consultant
- Health counsellor
- Addiction counsellor
- Crisis counsellor
- Rehabilitation worker
- Community worker
- Health services coordinator
- Physical activity coordinator
- Project manager
- Registry manager