Meeting the community’s needs: GGC to offer bachelor’s in health science

In response to the community’s need for skilled health professionals, Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) will offer a Bachelor of Science degree in health science, pending approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

“The need for skilled health care professionals is crucial, now more than ever,” said T.J. Arant, GGC senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “We’re committed to preparing our students for successful careers in this fast-growing industry.” 

Health professions are among industries with the highest annual growth rate, according to a state Department of Labor report on industry projections through 2026. The growth rate for health professions is especially true in the northeast region of the state where GGC is located. 

“Currently, there are three active Bachelor of Science in health science programs in the University System of Georgia with insufficient graduation numbers to meet the workforce needs of Georgia,” noted Diane White, dean of GGC’s School of Health Sciences. “These programs are located outside of the region that GGC serves.”

The new bachelor’s program will offer two concentrations. The patient navigator track will provide students with skills to guide patients through treatment plans, identify and connect patients with community resources, and collaborate with other health care professions in the development, implementation and evaluation of the patient’s plan of care. When implemented, GGC will be one of only three institutions in the country that offer a bachelor’s degree with a patient navigator concentration. 

“We are excited about Georgia Gwinnett College developing a program for patient navigators,” said Jay Dennard, FACHE, FHFMA, chief operating officer of Northside Hospital Duluth. “Our community will benefit greatly, as patients are in need of assistance with navigating their continuum of care. This program will add an additional layer to our already successful and long-term partnership with GGC.”

Students studying in the public health concentration will gain skills to address the health-related problems of individuals in the school, workplace or various community environments, collaborate with local, regional and national health care agencies to foster health and wellness in communities, and contribute public health knowledge and skill in pandemic and disaster events.

“Georgia Gwinnett College’s specialized training will enhance a student’s ability to operate through the lens of population health while enhancing clinical care, health education, disease prevention and preparedness for our community,” said Audrey Arona, M.D., chief executive officer/district health director, Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale County Health Departments.

Along with classroom instruction, both concentrations will give students the opportunity to apply their skills and gain practical experience in area health care facilities, health departments and community organizations. Officials say graduates from these programs will be able to work in a variety of health care settings such as hospitals, research laboratories, private medical offices, ambulatory clinics, public health entities, the insurance industry and government agencies. Students obtaining the Bachelor of Science degree in health science also will be able to move forward to graduate education in a variety of fields.

The bachelor’s in health science will be housed in GGC’s School of Health Sciences, which currently offers an accredited nursing program

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