Oregon Tech Launches Degree Program to Address New Approach to U.S. Healthcare

Jul 30, 2014
There is a recognized need in the healthcare sector for professionals who can meet patients’ and clients’ holistic medical and social support needs, and Oregon Tech graduates in PHM will be among the first in the state and country with this skillset.

A new degree program called Population Health Management (PHM) is being launched by Oregon Tech this fall to respond to a major paradigm shift underway in healthcare reform: the move from reactive care to comprehensive proactive care. As the first university in the state to launch a new program in what is called social medicine, PHM will help students understand the impact of social, cultural, economic, and environmental factors on healthcare systems and practices. There is a recognized need in the healthcare sector for professionals who can meet patients’ and clients’ holistic medical and social support needs, and Oregon Tech graduates in PHM will be among the first in the state and country with this skillset.

“Population Health Management helps specialists anticipate patient health care needs, allowing them to treat problems before they arise, thus improving patient care and reducing healthcare costs,” said Oregon Tech Humanities department chair, Dr. Mark Neupert. “Understanding the complex societal issues that can influence patient well-being adds an additional skillset for our graduates, enabling them to practice applied medical sociology to extend professional portfolios. Our graduates will be qualified for current and emerging jobs, and to practice a more holistic approach to serving patient/client and institutional needs, with a specific focus on rural practice.”

The Population Health Management program is the only one of its type in the nation and only one of four undergraduate applied sociology programs. In addition to new students interested in pursuing careers in the healthcare ecosystem, the degree program serves current healthcare practitioners who are already experienced in this field and are looking to enhance their training and career development through the study of comprehensive healthcare approaches in medical sociology. PHM aligns with the new approach to healthcare embedded in the Affordable Care Act, Cover Oregon, and the new healthcare exchanges.

Oregon Tech students pursuing the degree will take general classes in sociology and courses with a medical sociology focus – medical sociology, health inequality and cultural competency, and global population health. Students will then choose an emphasis area in Health Counseling and Outreach, Care Management and Coordination, or Applied Health Data Analytics and take the appropriate sociology and interdisciplinary coursework for those areas. Graduates will fulfill the need for professionals focused on improving patients’ health, and their overall experience in the medical system, while also reducing healthcare costs.

“Oregon Tech is a leader in applied health education and is in a unique position to make contributions in this area,” stated PHM program director, Dr. Sophie Nathenson. “The relationships that Oregon Tech has established over decades with the medical community will allow us to combine our academic expertise with their clinical expertise to develop an applied research element to the program. We’ll collaborate with healthcare institutions and current practitioners to conduct sponsored projects, expanding our offerings for research and internship/externship opportunities. We are excited about the opportunity to contribute to our national need for new strategies to maintain a healthy population, and adapt to changes in healthcare.”

The PHM program will prepare students for various career paths within the healthcare industry, such as operations management, healthcare IT, healthcare delivery management, senior management positions in the health industry and hospitals, developing health care startups, and positions in global health organizations.

For more information, please visit www.oit.edu/academics/degrees/population-health-management or contact Sophie Nathenson at 541-885-1352; sophialyn.nathenson@oit.edu, or Mark Neupert at mark.neupert@oit.edu.

About Oregon Tech Humanities and Social Sciences Department
The Humanities and Social Sciences Department offers degrees in Population Health Management and Applied Psychology, minors in Medical Sociology or Psychology, and a diverse collection of courses in support of Oregon Tech’s general education mission. We are committed to our role in enabling students to develop intellectual curiosity, critical thinking and practical skills, global knowledge, and ethical and cultural awareness.

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