New degree to address aging society’s growing health care needs

Photo used for illustration purposes only

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) will launch a new bachelor of science degree program in Health, Aging & Society this fall.

The new program, which will be offered through the College for Health, Community and Policy (HCAP), will be the first of its kind in the San Antonio area and is designed to address the growing need for health care support occupations and community- and social-service professionals.

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Students will learn critical skills to begin a career focused on managing and coordinating hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities. They will be well-positioned to research, design and share needed services with communities.

“This new program connects the classroom to careers for students with interests in social disparities that impact health and well-being across the life course.”

“The Health, Aging & Society program follows a recent international trend to integrate sociological perspectives into the study of health, health care, and aging,” said Terrence Hill, a professor in the Department of Sociology and founding director of the program. “Our new program is perfect for students who seek a balance between academic and applied approaches to health and aging.”

The need for medical and health services managers and social and community service managers has been increasing for several years, explained Hill. Meanwhile, the infectious disease pandemic only increased demands on health care systems and revealed how poorly equipped those systems are.

“We are seeing adjustments in the health care labor force, with certain segments resigning in higher rates,” said Hill, adding that many of those who are leaving are disillusioned by their experiences within these systems.

Students in the program will study four core areas. In sociological perspectives on health and aging, they will explore health, health care and aging as social and institutional problems.

In health professions, administration and management, students will learn skills related to health care administration and systems management.

The data analytics courses will teach students to analyze and read data in research studies. The final core area of study, interdisciplinary perspectives on health and aging, will expose students to different ways of thinking about health, health care and aging.

This unique blend of theoretical and professional training is designed to prepare students for the job market or for further graduate study in the areas of health and aging.

“This new program connects the classroom to careers for students with interests in social disparities that impact health and well-being across the life course, and who desire marketable skills to be able to make a difference in applied health care settings upon graduation,” said Raymond Swisher, professor and chair of the sociology department.

“Health, Aging & Society is the first of many new programs to be launched within the college,” said HCAP Dean Lynne Cossman. “We are creating interdisciplinary majors that provide students the skills necessary for growing areas of the workforce. With the aging of American society and the growing health care needs of the elderly, this community-engaged, interdisciplinary major is sure to attract diverse cohorts of majors and minors.”

Current UTSA students can major or minor in the program starting this fall 2022.

This new degree program supports UTSA’s urban-serving mission to tackle society’s grand challenges through world-class education and research programs. As a Tier One research university, it is driving San Antonio’s knowledge economy, living out the notion that great universities need great cities and great cities need great universities.