Choosing a Career Path in the Helping Professions During a Crisis

Choosing a career path is one of the most important decisions a person makes in life. And during a global crisis, it’s even more important.

The fight against COVID-19 likely won’t be the last battle against a pandemic. The world needs people trained to help the next time a similar crisis comes along. And many feel a call to respond to such crises in a tactical way. “Recent studies have shown that Generation Z identifies as compassionate and determined, and they consider social equality, multiculturalism, and digitization as very important,” said Louise Huang, Ph.D., assistant dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and director of the Center of Research in Science at Azusa Pacific University.

In recent months, new types of heroes have stepped up to the frontlines to support communities during this global crisis. If you’re currently choosing a career path and want to make a difference in public health, here are five undergraduate majors Azusa Pacific University offers that you may want to consider.

1. Premedical

You can’t meet the challenge of a pandemic without doctors who apply their medical expertise to help patients. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States had a doctor (and nurse) shortage. As NPR reported, health departments are calling medical students and retired doctors into service during this effort. Students who pursue a premed major will train to be at the forefront of the response to crises, whether they are urgent global challenges or vital, everyday health needs.

Internists, family practitioners, neurologists, gastroenterologists, pulmonologists, and ENTs are all medical professionals who provide critical care during a medical crisis.

2. Nursing

This year, the world has witnessed the irreplaceable value of nurses as they’ve served selflessly and put themselves in danger to help their patients battle COVID-19. Nursing has been a high-demand career for years, and it will remain critical beyond the pandemic.

APU’s nursing program prepares students to provide effective, compassionate health care in all situations. Those who earn nursing degrees are highly sought after as nurses in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and long-term care facilities.

3. Psychology

At all times, psychologists and mental health care providers step in to help people navigate life’s challenges. Most recently, new challenges have emerged—whether it’s the experience of enduring COVID-19 personally, working through it with a loved one, or dealing with the economic fallout of the pandemic. Studying psychology can help you prepare to meet these significant needs head-on and guide others through, now and into the future.

Undergraduate students who major in psychology are taught how to scientifically analyze human behavior and interactions in different contexts. Upon graduation, they can pursue careers as counselors and therapists and serve on the frontlines of public health challenges by caring for individuals’ growing mental health needs.

4. Mathematics

You likely heard the phrase “flatten the curve” used frequently in response to COVID-19, as public health leaders have urged people to follow social-distancing guidelines and ensure the medical community has the necessary resources to combat the crisis.

Statistical models are the basis of the curve everyone hopes to flatten. If you enjoy working with numbers and want to help during future public health crises, majoring in mathematics can prepare you for a career as a statistician where you build the models that inform public policy.

Additionally, statistical modeling and data analysis are sought-after skills in many fields, providing a stable foundation for your career moving forward.

5. Computer Information Systems

Never before have so many people in the workforce had to adjust so quickly to remote work. Companies in a range of industries mandated that employees work from home to help stop the spread. Others are trying to map out what the “new normal” will look like for people around the world. This has put a new focus on the importance of communication and technology.

With a major in computer information systems, you’ll gain experience with different types of programming, modern operating systems, and database management and development. The curriculum you learn will prepare you to meet 21st-century challenges associated with telecommunications, artificial intelligence, and web programming careers. And with CIS skills, you will be ready to adapt to future marketplace shifts and able to help others.

Crisis situations incite the need for service positions—those who are able to use their passions and skills to support and help both the individual and the greater community, whether through health care, policy change, counseling, or statistical analysis. “I often encourage my students to find the synergy—where their talents and passion collide; for that could be the discovery of a calling that brings a lifetime of rewarding experiences,” Huang said. “When starting a career, there are many factors to consider. Starting with what you are passionate about, as well as what you are good at, could lead to something significant, sustaining, and life-giving.”

Are you looking for other undergraduate majors that can train you to become one of the heroes on the frontlines of a global pandemic fight? Check out the degree options available at Azusa Pacific University.