Online healthcare certificate programs and courses may offer additional knowledge and/or training for professionals. Unlike certification programs, a healthcare certificate may result in a certificate of completion rather than a certification in a specialty or advanced skill acknowledgment.
Specialized healthcare skills are growing in importance across clinics and hospitals. In a 2017 healthcare survey by PWC, 79% of healthcare CEOs reported changing their hiring practices to better reflect skills they’ll need for the future. Soft skills such as organization, poise, and empathy are key in the day-to-day work of healthcare professionals. But growing in the nursing profession often calls for deeper specialist study.
Whatever your goals or interests, there’s likely a healthcare certificate program for you. Ranging from global health to nutrition, informatics to cardiac care, healthcare certificate courses cover a range of careers. Typically lasting between a few weeks to 18 months, they’re less extensive than traditional nursing degrees including a Master’s of Science in Nursing and nurse practitioner program — and tightly focused to provide lasting benefits for your career.
Whether you’ve graduated with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) and now want to develop your knowledge in a particular direction — or are simply interested in starting a career in healthcare, this guide can help you understand what it takes to earn a healthcare certificate and identify an online healthcare course that’s the best fit for you.
What Can I Do With an Online Healthcare Short Course?
Choosing the right online healthcare course can be tough. There are plenty of options, and each comes with its own requirements, coursework, and unique challenges and benefits. Even so, online courses are often as thorough as their offline cousins, offering a rigorous education at a pace that suits you. With the option of part-time study, you can attend live online classes that fit seamlessly into your personal or professional schedule.
Though there are courses targeted primarily toward nurses, healthcare certificate programs are versatile enough to be useful across the healthcare industry and beyond. Here are some of the courses you can choose from, and how they might help your career:
A certificate in nutrition gives you a robust understanding of how diet affects well-being, and builds your confidence for helping patients eat healthily. Apart from being useful for nurses — particularly those who work in gastroenterology or oncology departments — an online nutrition course can kickstart your overall career. It can also boost your prospects far beyond the hospital gates: corporate wellness and weight gain management consultancy are just two of the growing fields where an in-depth knowledge of nutrition can make a difference.
Administrative skills are important in every profession, especially in hospitals, where staying organized can impact the overall well-being of patients. Armed with a healthcare management certificate, you might find work in a nursing home or school. Outside of medicine, healthcare management experts might find work in insurance companies or at pharmaceutical firms. Nurse executives, for example, are often a part of senior leadership teams assisting with overall management of operations.
Like their colleagues in public health nursing, global health experts take a panoramic approach to healthcare. They study how populations interact, and what that means for the practice of medicine across the world. Unsurprisingly for such a cosmopolitan field, nurses with certificates in global health can expect to work abroad, perhaps for NGOs or the government. And because they’re so interdisciplinary —encompassing sociology, economics, and cultural studies — global health courses can be useful for a career in academia too.
Healthcare informatics combines medicine and analytical science. By using IT to organize and analyze records, medical staff can sharpen healthcare practices and ultimately improve patient outcomes. Even if you decide not to pursue nursing, innovations like big data and machine learning are marketable across business and finance. Careers that are in the crosshairs of healthcare and informatics, like informatics nurses, help to bridge the gap between our growing technological society and efficiency in healthcare.
Why Should I Complete a Healthcare Certificate?
With the abundance of program names and acronyms, it’s easy to get confused when selecting an educational path to pursue. In general, healthcare programs tend to be longer and, in some cases, more detailed than courses. For this reason, full healthcare degree programs may be more expensive than courses.
Completing a healthcare certificate program may come at the completion of additional coursework within your degree program or from universities offering shorter educational programs, such as a short course. A short course may be considered a 6-10 week program focusing on one major topic, such as health informatics. A healthcare certificate program may be similar, but the end result may help prepare you for a specific certification.
It is still important to note that many online healthcare certificate programs and courses offer some of the benefits of full degrees, without the drawbacks. You may be able to:
- Kickstart your education: Online certificates are a great way to start your education. A 2017 Pew Research Center article emphasizes the increasing importance of certificates in existing and emerging disciplines.
- Boost your career: Complementing your degree with a healthcare certificate may help to set you apart from the crowd. Honing in on a complex field shows your commitment to your profession and specialty.
- Change fields: With a focus on interdisciplinary education, many online healthcare courses enable you to pivot away from or towards nursing. From IT to economics, you can study a range of subjects and ultimately advance your career.
- Make useful contacts: When you enroll in a healthcare certificate program or course you have the opportunity to connect with like-minded people across all fields. Discovering how colleagues entered the healthcare space is also a great way to stay ahead of the competition.
What To Expect From a Healthcare Certificate Course
Like full degree programs, courses in certificate programs may vary depending on the institution offering them.
With so many colleges and universities offering online healthcare courses, it’s hard to say exactly what you’ll need to apply. Apart from the distinctions between courses, you should also be conscious of pre- and post-graduate options.
- Pre-graduate: This option is designed for students who have yet to complete a full undergraduate degree. To enroll, you might just need a high school diploma or a GED, as well as any other placement tests set by the college.
- Post-graduate: This option is built for students who already have a bachelor’s degree under their belts. For these courses, you’ll need to meet the school’s minimum GPA requirements (generally between 2.5 and 3.0) and the transcripts to prove it. While some schools simply require an undergraduate qualification, others expect specific degrees in nursing.
Beyond that, as is the case with many higher-education programs, you’ll likely have to provide a CV or resume, statement of purpose, and/or a reference letter.
Because they touch on so many different fields, it’s hard to say what your exact course will involve. But here’s an overview of what you might cover based on the track you choose.
- Pre-graduate curriculum: In general, pre-graduate options may teach you the basics of a particular discipline in preparation for either work or study. In a curriculum with a focus on healthcare administration for example, students might be introduced to pharmacology, medical office accounting, and long-term care management.
- Postgraduate curriculum: Because you already have a solid grasp in the basics of nursing — and may even be coming back to education after working — these curriculums will be more advanced than their pre-graduate cousins. Post-graduate nurse administrator certificate programs may also cover leadership, as well as broader, high-level themes such as the economics of healthcare and the importance of human resources.
Shorter than full undergraduate degrees, online healthcare certificate courses may last a few weeks to around 18 months. Many colleges and universities offer the option of part-time study. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) shares that a college degree may take two to four years of education as a coding certificate may take six months to one year. Each certificate course may vary in length, but it is typically shorter than a full degree program.
There are healthcare certificate programs and courses in a variety of fields which means you can opt for one in a specialty area or healthcare subsector that interests you. Healthcare management and healthcare informatics are two practice areas to consider.
What is healthcare informatics?
Healthcare informatics combines medicine and analytical science. By using IT to organize and analyze records, medical staff can sharpen healthcare practices and ultimately improve patient outcomes.
To learn more visit our page on “What is healthcare informatics?”
What is healthcare management?
Healthcare management covers the administrative skills needed to keep a hospital or other healthcare provider running smoothly. From relationship building to financial accountability, healthcare management is a hugely versatile practice field.
To learn more visit our page on “What is healthcare management?”