World Health Day: Preparing Students to Make a Difference

World Health Day Preparing Students to Make a Difference
By John Koehler April 7, 2021

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. And that’s a message that is especially poignant as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the globe.

So, in honor of World Health Day 2021, we talked to one of our dedicated healthcare faculty members to learn more about the significance of this celebration—especially in a year like this one—the importance of healthcare workers throughout the field, and the value of a health professioans education from UA Grantham.

Dr. Boubacar Vilane, health professions associate dean, answers our questions below.

Question: World Health Day is an annual celebration. Why is it important and, if you could pick the theme for 2021, what would you pick?

Dr. Boubacar Vilane: 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.

World Health Day is a way for WHO to draw worldwide attention to a subject of major importance to global health for the year. That’s why “Health is Everyone’s Business” would be my choice for a theme this year: Health justice is not just a feel-good theme, it is a matter of life and death, both for us and for our loved ones.


Q: How can we celebrate World Health Day 2021?

BV: I know everyone is tired of the COVID-related restrictions, but the alternative is never getting rid of it—or by suffering the unbearable cost of deaths and permanent disabilities. We can celebrate by caring about every human being who is hurting and dying, about every human being who does not have access to the healthcare the U.S. does.

I will celebrate World Health Day by cheering on every person who becomes vaccinated, by every mask I see on a face—and by continuing to educate the next generation of healthcare professionals and providing the best education at the lowest possible cost!


Q: Hindsight is always 20/20. What have you personally learned from the COVID-19 pandemic?

BV: My biggest takeaway is that I learned how to better care for myself and rely on health organizations for reliable information. I also learned that our lives will not be the same as they were before COVID-19: some new norms may be here to stay, such as gathering guidelines, the capacity for remote working, and the prevalence of video conferencing.

Albert Einstein said, "In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." The COVID-19 pandemic has confirmed the role of healthcare in the world economy. It has also taught us that technology is both the present and the future of healthcare and telemedicine.


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

BV: At UA 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.


Q: What online degree programs does Grantham offer through the College of Nursing & Health Professions?

BV: The College of Nursing & Health Professions offers a variety of programs designed to prepare students for both clinical and nonclinical settings. The College of Nursing offers an RN–BSN completion program, as well as a master’s in Nursing program with four specialty tracks: Case Management, Management and Organizational Leadership, Education, and Informatics. There are also two graduate certificate programs available, Nursing Leadership and Organizational Management and Nursing Education.

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.


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

BV: 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 three 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 a part of a respected, valued profession. You save lives and what you do is celebrated on World Health Day.


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

BV: I think the world has seen health professionals in a different light due to the pandemic. 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 curriculum to help students learn and the willingness to work with each student to help them 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. Being called a hero doesn’t make us heroic but doing what we do every day does.


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

John Koehler
John Koehler is a senior marketing specialist on University of Arkansas Grantham's marketing operations team. John is passionate about enabling education opportunities and a positive experience for prospective students. John holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree with a concentration in Marketing from Rockhurst University.
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