World Health Day: Preparing Students to Make a Difference

By Cheryl Rules March 13, 2023

World Health Day is an annual campaign, celebrated on April 7, led by the World Health Organization (WHO) to promote building a fairer, healthier world.

So, in honor of World Health Day, we talked to our dedicated healthcare dean to learn more about the significance of this celebration, the importance of healthcare workers throughout the field, and the value of a health professions education from University of Arkansas Grantham.

Dr. Cheryl Rules, health professions dean, answers our questions below.

World Health Day is an annual celebration. Why is it important?

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it should be that the people walking next to us matter—whether we know them or not. We are a global society. The U.S. cannot remain healthy if the rest of the world does not. Keeping every human being as healthy as possible decreases the risks for us, too.

How can we celebrate World Health Day?

I will celebrate World Health Day by cheering on every person who decides to dedicate their life and career to becoming a healthcare professional—and by continuing to educate the next generation of healthcare professionals and providing the best education at the lowest possible cost!

Hindsight is always 20/20. What have you personally learned post COVID-19 pandemic?

When the pandemic began most of us felt there would “be the other side of it,” that COVID was something to be conquered, eradicated. The post-pandemic period has made it clear that is not how it is going to work. Some new norms are here to stay. Not only has the COVID virus continued to mutate and change, but the focus on it has also allowed the conditions in which other pathological illnesses can flourish. We have seen this as once again hospitals overflowed, and healthcare personnel were stressed to their limits. And not from COVID, from flu and RSV.

I also appreciate even more the need for equity in resources. Populations cannot live in food deserts, children cannot go to bed hungry, and people cannot die for lack of access to healthcare without it impacting all of us. Starvation in Sudan, near total destruction in Ukraine, and most recently tens of thousands of deaths in Turkey due to earthquakes make clear the challenges for global health during catastrophes.

What impact do you hope UA Grantham can make on public health?

At University of Arkansas Grantham, we’ve made it our mission to serve those who serve. Our social responsibility is to prepare healthcare workers with the proper tools to make a difference in the world, even in a continuously changing global society.

Our goal remains the same for providing relevant educational programming for our students and preparing them to make a difference in the world: We must stay current with all our educational offerings. That’s why we focus on creating an immediate impact in our current healthcare system and by providing adequate knowledge for our students to thrive in a professional environment.

What online degree programs does UA Grantham offer through the College of Health Professions?

The College of Health Professions offers online certificate programs in Electronic Health Records, Medical Administrative Assistant, and Medical Coding and Billing. These programs are a perfect place to begin because they’re designed to be completed in six to ten months, provide a certification exam, and help graduates find a job in healthcare.

But they also create a path directly into one of the three associate degree programs, which means you can leverage your existing credit so that you only need 42 additional credits to complete an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in Medical Coding and Billing, Medical Administrative Assistant, or Healthcare Administration.

And when your AAS degree is completed, most—if not all—of those 60 credits can be transferred toward the Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management degree. For students seeking an advanced degree, there is also the option of pursuing a Master of Science in Health Systems Management or a Master of Healthcare Administration.

What types of professions do graduates of these programs typically pursue?

The beauty of becoming a healthcare professional is that there are hundreds of different specialties. You have to start somewhere and taking that leap can be daunting, so we have provided a few common entry paths into the field. It is good to spend some time working with patients in some fashion and getting a feel for healthcare.

A certificate or associate degree program can allow you to do just that, helping you learn whether you like the hands-on patient interaction or prefer the technology side. Or perhaps you have good leadership qualities and feel that a managerial role is in your future. Regardless of what specialty you choose, you will know that you are part of a respected, valued profession. You save lives and what you do is celebrated on World Health Day.

How do graduates of these programs have an impact on healthcare today?

I think the world has seen health professionals in a different light due to all of the health crises. We were always just there, and we were expected to be so. The pandemic highlighted the importance of all types of healthcare workers—not just doctors and nurses, but technicians and assistants and pharmacy techs and so many more.

We have specially designed our programs to help students succeed. And our faculty is what makes the difference for our graduates: They are the front-line heroes who have chosen to go one step further in order to educate the next generation. They practice their professions and are experts in their fields. We have MDs, RNs, PharmDs, chiropractors, RHIA-certified specialists, expert coders, and administrators who run hospitals teaching at UA Grantham.

The system cannot run without our graduates. Are you ready to pursue a healthcare online degree program? Contact our admissions team to learn more about how to get started today!

About the Author

Cheryl Rules
Dr. Cheryl Rules, Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Professions, has over 40 years of experience in healthcare, nearly 20 of which were spent in Intensive Care. She was an ICU Clinical Educator before transitioning to the academic setting. Her experience in all aspects of education, from technical to doctoral degrees, includes an extensive background in distance learning and online education, which levels the playing field by providing access and affordability for all. She believes in the importance of the interdisciplinary healthcare team and is passionate about the vital role Health Profession disciplines have in providing the best patient outcomes. Dr. Rules earned her Master of Science in Nursing from Regis University and her Ph.D. in Higher Educational Leadership at North Central University.
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