FH Magazine

Healthy career prospects

Electronic health records, apps which remind patients about their health protection appointments, doctor’s appointments that can be held on an iPad, and robots that monitor the healing of wounds: At the moment, the health sector is experiencing a speedy transformation and needs specialists who are able to form interfaces to connect conventional medical duties, doctors and patients. A demand that Universities of Applied Sciences can easily meet: 131 study programmes are currently on offer in health fields at UASs in Austria – from the bachelor’s programme “Aging Service Management” to the master’s programme “Cytodiagnostics and Applied Molecular Pathology”.

“On the cutting edge”

With each of these degrees, graduates have numerous possibilities: “I got my degree in the first bachelor’s study programme in 2013 in ‘Occupational Therapy’ at the University of Applied Sciences for Health Professions Upper Austria, says Ingrid Vogl, “and could have worked in hospitals, social institutions, rehabilitation or outpatient centres with my degree. Or I could have worked in an advisory position for ergonomics and accessibility as an occupational health practitioner in the construction and furnishing of office buildings”, tells the 35-year-old, mentioning only a few of the possibilities that were available to her after graduation. In the end, she decided to take over the management of therapy in the Neurological Treatment Centre in Gmundnerberg in Altmünster and run her own private practice on the side. This enabled her to apply the entire breadth of the knowledge she acquired during her studies: “This study programme is really on the cutting edge, and students learn not only the key aspects of patient care but also the integration of new media or therapies which are computer- or robot-assisted”, she reports. “Also things like quality management and basic knowledge for starting and running your own practice.”

Competent as humans and specialists

This complete package was what Nadine Fuchs, assistant head nurse for the interdisciplinary outpatient unit and Breast Centre nurse of the Krankenhaus der Barmherzigen Brüder – a hospital run by the order of the Brothers of St. John of God – in St. Veit an der Glan, appreciated about her studies at a UAS. She completed her bachelor’s in “Health and Care Management” as well as her master’s in “Health Management” at the Carinthia University of Applied Sciences. Fuchs also got a double degree at the Finnish University Jyväskylä and a “Master of Healthcare Services” to spruce up her curriculum vitae. With these accomplishments, she is qualified for a variety of tasks. “I am working in the supervision, advising and support of patients with breast cancer”, she reports, “but I’m also responsible for the whole deal – in other words, for the standards and the guidelines, for statistics and controlling in the breast centre. I am also the coordinator for clinical studies in our centre.” The strengths that she developed during her UAS studies are the specialist knowledge and her abilities to think in an interdisciplinary way as well as “to look at things from above despite being in the middle of the system.” And all this without losing sight of the human aspect, which is indispensable in the medical field: “Students in the programme really are taught everything – even in regard to personal development, which is essential in the communication with patients”, stresses the health manager. Just how successful she is in this respect is shown by an award she recently received for her caring attitude: “In December 2018 I was named ‘Pflegerin mit Herz’ for the Austrian Province Carinthia. That was a very nice award to receive.”

Take your pick

Bianca Schnalzer found the perfect way to combine her abilities and interests in the courses offered at the UAS to meet the new challenges of the health sector. “I had already worked for the Red Cross when I was young and discovered my love for medicine. But I also loved IT”, she thinks back on her career path. Schnalzer, now 30, was able to combine both of these fields in the “eHealth” bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes which she completed from 2013 to 2018 at the FH JOANNEUM. She is now passing on this knowledge to the next generation – as an academic member of staff in the Department for Applied Computer Sciences at her alma mater. “This includes everything that supports healthy as well as ill patients, such as health apps and reminders”, she explains. “But also hospital information systems that exchange data between the health providers or ELGA (electronic health records).” The possible areas graduates can work in are enormous, says Schnalzer: “You can work in quality and process management, for providers of hospital systems, or in the project management in the introduction of large software projects. And the job prospects are very good.” She herself was able to choose where she wanted to start working; her decision to go back to the UAS was not an easy one for her: “There are simply so many exciting things to research, and it is so interesting to be a part of laying the foundation in developing new applications.”

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