Student looking up from her microscope

Health Sciences

Overview of the Health Sciences Major

Health care provides a large and growing number of jobs, both in Massachusetts and nation-wide. MCLA offers a B.S. in Health Sciences, with optional concentrations in Pre-Physician Assistant, Pre-Physical Therapy, Pre-Occupational Therapy, Medical Technology, and Sports Medicine, all designed to meet meet well-documented employment needs.  Physician Assistant, Physical Therapist and Occupational Therapist are among the fastest-growing occupations in Massachusetts. The mission and objectives for the Health Sciences major can be found here.  Courses are small (typically no more than 32 students in a lecture section, 16 students in a lab section) and are taught by engaged, enthusiastic faculty members.

The Health Sciences major provides a strong education in the structure and function of the body as well as evidence-based practice, with coursework in biology, chemistry, statistics and psychology. The biology department offers courses in a variety of disciplines that serve as electives, including Pharmacology, Immunology and Epidemiology. An introductory seminar provides exposure to various careers, opportunities and learning skills in biology and health fields. Students gain experience in finding and reading biological literature (published research studies) in an upper-level seminar, and scientific experimentation and communication are emphasized throughout the curriculum. Students can earn minors in biology, sociology and other disciplines to complement their major.

Concentrations

Students can enroll in the general Health Sciences major or can choose a Health Sciences major with a concentration (a sequence of coursework targeted to a specific field) in Pre-Physician Assistant, Pre-Physical Therapy, Pre-Occupational Therapy, or Medical Technology.  For concentrations in Pre-Medical Professions, Pre-Veterinary, and Biotechnology, see the Biology major offered by the Biology Department. The Biology Department also offers a major in Community Health Education.

The General Health Sciences major provides a broad education in health fields, including nutrition and microbiology, and will allow students to pursue careers and advanced study in a variety of health fields, including nursing and nutrition. 

The Pre-Physician Assistant concentration includes the standard pre-requisite courses for Physician Assistant programs.

The Pre-Physical Therapy concentration includes the standard pre-requisite courses for Physical Therapy programs.

The Pre-Occupational Therapy concentration includes the standard pre-requisite courses for Occupational Therapy programs.

In the Medical Technology concentration, students complete three years of coursework at MCLA and a clinical year at Berkshire Medical Center’s Medical Technology program. Students sit for the certification exam and can graduate as Massachusetts-certified medical technologists. 

The Sports Medicine concentration includes standard pre-requisite courses for advanced study in athletic training or other fields related to sports medicine. 

Internships, Research and Independent Work

Students are strongly encouraged to observe practitioners in their field of interest and to participate in independent research, internships and/or other experiences that emphasize independent work and demonstration of professional skills.  A variety of local health institutions offer opportunities for shadowing/observation. Students can start working with faculty on research projects as early as their first year at MCLA, and may present their findings at local and regional research conferences. Internships can be established based on a student’s area of interest, and students can seek employment as medical scribes at local hospitals or, with outside training, as Certified Nursing Assistants or Emergency Medical Technicians.

Careers

Graduates of MCLA are currently enrolled in a variety of programs of advanced study, including nursing, physician assistant, physical therapy, and occupational therapists, and are employed in these fields and as medical technologists and other health professionals.

Meet OUR FACULTY

Health Sciences in the News

Participants at Berkshire County Arc

On his way to becoming an occupational therapist, Schuyler Robinson ’19 of North Adams has been interning at Berkshire Arc, and recently traveled to Boston as part of 2019 Adult Family Care State Awareness Day, an opportunity to meet lawmakers and other supporters and advocate for full state funding for family home care.

Devyn

If you’ve visited Community Health Programs’ Pittsfield Neighborhood Health Center lately, you may have received a nutrition fact sheet prepared by Devyn Renzi ’19. One of MCLA’s first graduating health science majors, Renzi found footing and purpose through her internship, and is now applying to graduate programs in nutrition.

Susan Bloom

MCLA’s biology program prepared Susan Bloom ’16 for success in a competitive, intensive nursing program. Now a registered nurse, she works at Berkshire Medical Center. “There is nothing better than standing outside a room and hearing the roommates tell each other what a great nurse you are! I can’t wait to grow in this profession.”