One of the most common questions college students get is “What are you majoring in?” And when I answer that question with ”Health Policy and Management,” it’s often followed by “What’s that?”
I guess the easiest answer to that question is that Health Policy and Management (HPM) is a mixture of all the things that go into health care. It’s essentially a combination of several disciplines (Biology, Sociology, History, Management, etc.) and what you do with an HPM degree really depends on which of these interests you most. The major itself is ten classes and this includes required HPM classes in public health, health law, financial management, and the introductory course, which introduces several different aspects of HPM, including health insurance and the way our health care system works. Then, the remaining courses you take within the major will be electives that you choose based upon which direction you choose to take. HPM is also commonly supplemented with other majors/minors, which really allows you to tailor your HPM degree to your individual interests. Many people will pair HPM with something like Global Studies, Public and Community Service, Political Science, Business Studies, or Biology. And, senior year you do an internship at a site of your choice. So, if you are interested in the management aspect of HPM, you might intern at Rhode Island Hospital, if you’re interested in the insurance aspect, you’d intern at an insurance company, if you’re interested in public health, you’d intern at the Department of Health, etc. This is invaluable because it gives you hands-on experience in what you’ve been studying and allows you to apply what you’ve been learning to real world situations.
Just to give you an example of what a degree in HPM can be used for, this past summer, I was a Federal Government Affairs Intern at the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) in Washington, D.C. AANP is a nonprofit organization that strives to improve the quality of health care by lobbying to increase the scope of practice for qualified nurse practitioners. Many of the issues AANP focused on while I was an intern were the impact that implementation of the Affordable Care Act would have on NPs, allowing NPs to order durable medical equipment for their patients, and NPs’ authority to write prescriptions. My main responsibilities included researching legislation that was relevant to NPs, tracking daily activity in the House and Senate, and contacting congressional offices. I even got to go to Capitol Hill to attend meetings with congressional representatives. This internship was an absolutely wonderful opportunity that taught me a great deal about health policy, and the group of people I worked for was amazing. Though I still have a couple years to go, I’m thinking I would like to do something like this after I graduate, and I am also planning to add a political science minor in order to further prepare me for a career in this area.
And, the HPM program offers more than academics – there’s also an HPM Club! The club sponsors different events throughout the semester such as lectures and, just last week, the club sponsored an ice cream social for students to get to know the HPM faculty and fellow HPM majors and, of course, enjoy some delicious ice cream.
The HPM program at PC offers so many opportunities in terms of career paths, and, although I might be a bit biased, I think the HPM program here is outstanding, so if you’re still unsure of what you’d like to study, you might want to look into HPM!
Have a wonderful week, everyone! And if you have any questions about HPM (or anything PC related for that matter), please don’t hesitate to ask!