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Booming Business: Earning A Health Care Degree Online

Many people question the possibility of earning a health care degree online. There is a stigma that exists around earning this type of degree online instead of being in a physical lab to do the work. Many people believe that health care is a hands on job that requires on the spot training, and cannot be obtained online. This is anything but true, as the boomer generation increasingly becomes more interested and in need of quality health care. The fact is that there are more health care jobs available today than there are people to fill them. The massive boomer population is getting to the age of retirement when their medical needs will surely increase. The already understaffed health care field will become even more in need of health care professionals. Earning a health care degree online is a great idea for anyone who is looking for a rewarding career. The benefits aren’t just monetary; they’re also rewarding in the fact that you are free to work while earning your degree, and can do it on your own time schedule.

Most people imagine health care degree online programs as being directly associated with becoming a doctor, or nurse; however there are many new health care fields that are also becoming popular. There is a high demand for those that have certification in medical transcription and medical assisting. Both careers have what seems to be an insatiable staffing demand by the health care industry. Those that earn a degree with a specialty in medical transcription will most likely be able to work from home typing up doctors notes and case files. This is something that has even been outsourced to other countries recently because there is not enough graduates to fill the need. With a health care degree in medical transcription one can also assume responsibilities in a hospital or doctor’s office helping health care professionals with their day-to-day duties. This is a great way to gain valuable experience, and make a difference in other people’s lives.

Concentrating on earning a health care degree online is all it takes to get the process going towards achieving a better career. This is such a certainty that many schools have career services offices with lists of employers that have an immediate need for qualified health care graduates. This is what makes you the most valuable commodity of them all; by allowing yourself to obtain a degree that makes you extremely attractive to those that are looking for health care related staff.

Another wonderful aspect of the health care degree online degree programs is that they offer an opportunity for those that have full time jobs to earn a degree on their own time. This means that you will not be forced to take a drop in your pay by having to take time off to study. You can maintain your current income while earning a degree online. Many students that spend time away from school, and return to continue their education find the most difficult task is to sacrifice their base income and subsequent lifestyle. Online programs allow you to continue working while achieving your degree.

Bias in Health Information: Understanding the Agendas

Writers of medical advice–including columnists, insurance companies, governmental agencies, medical organizations, drug companies and even practitioners–are all biased. They always have agendas. They all choose to write about certain topics and not others. They make choices about what to include in their articles, what to leave out and how to state their cases. They’re all self-serving. They all have something to “sell,” even when there is not an immediate cash-return.

Does that mean you should throw up your hands, say the hell with it, and never read or listen to another medical message? I don’t think so, but in order to derive value from these messages, you sure as heck better understand the agendas of the people who created them. Or as the psychologists say, if you want to understand a behavior, you need to figure out what motivated it. Let’s examine some advice-givers and their biases.

What motivates health columnists? Well, how about their continued employment, the needs of their publisher-employers, and the needs of the companies the publishers wish to attract as advertisers? It’s not hard to imagine there are some subtle and not-so-subtle influences and incentives at play in framing the subject-matter and slant of the articles. Certainly, it’s hard to attract the business of potential advertisers when you have written devastating critiques of their products.

Yet don’t infer that you should ignore what the health columnists have to say. They provide a wonderful service in discussing health issues, the business of medicine and its practice. I personally enjoy reading the health columns of that great medical publication, The Wall Street Journal. In fact, I still distribute to my patients an excellent article about medication-overuse headaches that Tara Parker-Pope, one of their columnists, wrote years ago.

One of the odder chapters in the business of medicine is that certain insurance companies have positioned themselves as providers of health advice, particularly those companies paid by employers to manage their medication-benefit plans. I won’t waste the reader’s time in building a case that insurance companies have agendas and conflicts-of-interest in providing such advice. This should be self-evident.

Governmental agencies like the National Institutes of Health provide medical information which is generally reliable and useful, but influenced by the agency’s understandable needs for self-promotion and self-preservation. The same holds true for medical organizations like the American Academy of Neurology (to which I belong) and big group-practices like the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic. The advice tendered by these medical organizations in their publications and web-pages is backed by their reputations, which they zealously protect. So you can be sure that the medical content is subjected to rigorous quality-control. And fortunately, although their messages are motivated by commercial needs, the linkages are obvious and easy for the consumer to take into account.

How about individual health practitioners? Giving advice is what they do for a living, so what’s the issue? Well, in the U.S., at least, there is a genuine “medical marketplace” where competition reigns supreme. So when you need help with your health, each practitioner (including me!) would like to make the short-list of advisers whose opinions you trust and value.

Let’s move on to the drug companies. In my opinion there is no medical information that is both as pervasive and biased as that created by drug companies. And in many cases the connection between the message and the drug company’s name has been obscured or hidden, so the consumer doesn’t even know to be wary.

I have written elsewhere about the comical turn of events in the “advice” that drug companies have provided to people with headaches. For many years the makers of sinus medications invested heavily in convincing people with headaches that most of them were due to sinus disease. But now that effective and lucrative drugs for migraine exist, companies are sinking even larger sums of money into the message that those headaches weren’t due to sinus conditions after all. Instead, they’ve been due to migraine. This vignette illustrates the hazard in allowing marketing departments of drug companies to diagnose one’s headaches.

Another hazard is in allowing drug companies to write the information-sheets that doctors hand patients at the ends of office visits. Every doctor gets buried in pamphlets that sales reps from drug companies leave at their offices. For years I actually looked at these things, trying to select the 30% that might be worth retaining and passing along to my patients. After a while, 30% seemed too optimistic, so I searched for the 20% that was worth keeping, and then the 10%…well, you get the idea. The pamphlets kept getting more biased and less useful. At one time the sales reps passed out some real gems that were genuinely helpful to patients and their families. But those days are gone.

So when it comes to medical advice, consider the source.

Alzheimer’s Care Giving While Maintaining Your Own Health

Just for a moment I want you to imagine that you are coming out of a very deep sleep. If you have ever had surgery try to remember the way you felt as you were trying to make sense of things as you awoke. As you imagine or remember this sensation do you find yourself wondering if it is morning or night? Are you trying to remember where you are? Do you have a startle reaction and think for a moment that you are late for work or forgot to pick up your children at school? I have had that upsetting feeling if I wake up in the middle of the night or even after a nap. Now imagine that same fog every moment of your life…….

So many care givers find themselves frustrated with an Alzheimer’s sufferer. They may say things like “He just doesn’t seem to care if I am with him or not” or “He doesn’t enjoy doing anything any more.” I know that it is so hard to accept the changes in your loved one and know that this is going to be your reality. If you can remind yourself that the behaviors are organic it will help. The plaque is building up and spreading over the surface of the brain just as a grassfire moves across a dry field. As it covers more areas your loved falls deeper into that fog. Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t show up like a broken one or a surgical scar but the effects are just as real.

When the things they say or do cause you to feel angry or sad do you best to remember that it is the disease…not your loved one. That’s when it is time for some care giver TLC.

Care giver burnout is a very real occurrence. If you are caring for someone you must include your own needs each day. Your health may decline at a faster rate than the person you are caring for if your dietary, emotional and physical needs are not met. Skipping your checkups with Dr.s is not an option.

You may be asking “How am I supposed to do all of this all by myself?” The answer is simple. You can’t do it all alone. The first step to healthy care giving is accepting the fact that you have limitations. Every human being does. You can only stay awake, maintain your health and keep up with the demands for a limited amount of time. When you reach your limit you may find yourself suffering from care giver burnout. You may have trouble concentrating, experience nervous tension, and you may find it difficult to fight off resentment toward your loved one or others in your family that you feel should be assisting you.

Reach out. Call upon your family, friends, church and community organizations. Your local hospitals will have information regarding community resources. This information can usually be found by contacting the Social Services Department. Another good resource is the Alzheimer’s Association. By taking care of your health you will, in turn be a better care giver.