Health and Wealth

Dean: Why health sciences degree leads to high-paying jobs

By Anthony Giornalista

In September, the U.S. Department of Education introduced an online tool making it easier for consumers to find information about colleges, including student costs, loans and potential earning power. It includes a scorecard that offers a look at earnings after graduation for undergraduate students. 

Rush University leads Illinois universities in undergraduate students’ post-graduation earnings, with an average annual salary of $74,000. The information is based on tax records. 

All of those graduates come from Rush’s College of Health Sciences, which is the only college at Rush University that has bachelor’s programs. Charlotte B. Royeen, PhD, who became the new dean of the College of Health Sciences in the summer, offers her view on why the University’s undergraduates are so successful.

What is unique about the undergraduate programs offered at Rush?

Two of the programs, imaging sciences and vascular ultrasound, are designed to lead to employment immediately following graduation. The third program, health sciences, is more of a feeder program to pursue advanced degrees in other fields, whether it’s nursing, medical school or something else that’s health care oriented.

What’s the forecast for technical fields such as imaging sciences and vascular ultrasound?

It’s like trying to predict anything: nobody really knows. However, both of my children have gone into such fields, and I try to influence some of my other family members to enter these fields. It’s hard to say how things will play out with health care reform, but what we do know is we have a large aging population and the care that population will need pretty much guarantees high employability in any of these fields.

Why do you think our undergraduates do so well after graduation?

We have very focused, targeted programs. They’re highly specialized. It is very different than what a liberal arts university would be offering. We typically get a more focused student — a more serious student who is on a mission to get a degree in a particular area. They’ve already figured out what they want to do, whereas many students may still be finding themselves at a typical university.

What is it like for an undergraduate student at Rush?

The rigor and depth of our programs are the biggest surprise to our undergrads. You really have to be prepared to read and spend considerable time outside of the class to be successful. The volume of reading is something that’s an adjustment for any incoming student. These are serious degrees, and you have to work very hard and be diligent.

However, it is not only book learning. There’s a high degree of application in different settings, whether it’s clinical or administrative. You have to act like a professional from day one. You have to dress appropriately for the setting. We have codes of dress and conduct that help them understand.

For example, cell phones are pervasive in everyone’s life, but you can’t take your cell phone into a clinical setting. You can’t go into an operating room and take your cell phone. It’s almost like learning another culture — a professional culture — and the patient or client becomes the most important person. It’s no longer only about you but about the people whom you serve.