The Importance of STEM for the Future of Healthcare

In the last 50 years the healthcare field has made huge leaps that have benefited millions of people across the world. People’s life spans have increased to over 70, which is higher than it was just a decade ago. According to CDC, people born in the United States today are expected to have lives that are decades longer than in past generations. These longer and healthier lives can be accredited to the healthcare fields devotion to finding ways to better society. 

Since 1980, scientists and doctors have discovered an array of vaccinations, medical tools and cures. Some notable findings, according to Harvard Medical School, are (but are not limited to): 

  • 1980: Advancements in HIV/AIDS discovery and research  
  • 1981: Artificial skin made from living cells
  • 1987: Early-onset Alzheimer’s gene found
  • 1990: First proteasome cancer therapy was created
  • 1995: The first triple-organ transplant was conducted 
  • 1997: Advances were made in how Aspirin helps stop inflammation
  • 2002: Researchers found pathways that link to Rheumatoid Arthritis 
  • 2006: A “next generation” DNA sequencing technology was created
  • 2009: Tumor-killing strategies were furthered with the discovery of cell starvation 
  • 2013: Scientists discovered GDF-11 helps reverse cardiac hypertrophy 
  • 2016: A Zika virus vaccination was presented

It is thanks to these healthcare professionals that people around the world are able to live with less disease and illness than ever before. Yet, in order to continue this upward trend and keep a high quality of life for generations of the future, people need to continue with these findings.

According to Brookings Education, the United States high school graduation rate is at an all-time high and is continuing to increase. These graduates are the future of the workforce and are essential to the continued advancements in healthcare. With an expected 9 million new STEM jobs by 2022, the need for these students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math are growing.

MEDITECH, Medical Information Technology Incorporated, is a software and service company that sells information systems to healthcare organizations. The MEDITECH team has joined the STEM initiatives in order to aid the next generation of healthcare professionals.  

“MEDITECH recognizes the importance of STEM initiatives in nurturing the next generation of healthcare providers. We see our support of these organizations as an investment in the future of innovation,” said MEDITECH President and CEO Howard Messing

MEDITECH is in collaboration with multiple colleges in order to help students receive a quality STEM education. They are partnered with Northeastern University Nurse Innovation and Entrepreneurship Advisory Board. It focuses on giving nursing students mentorship through bringing in leading healthcare professionals and providing students with the records and supplies that they need in order to explore solutions to healthcare issues. 

Similarly, MEDITECH partners with MassBay Community College, Rowan College at Burlington County and Deborah Heart and Lung Center for BRowns Mills, N.J. With the help of MEDITECH, these colleges are able to offer a certificate program in healthcare informatics.

“This 50-hour distance learning opportunity provides an introduction to the field, as well as a look into the technology that powers electronic health records,” said Deborah CIO Rich Temple. “The course is really putting our hospital at the forefront of cultivating talent that can allow us to survive and thrive.”

There is an estimated 1.3 million new healthcare jobs that will be available in the next decade. Alongside this increase in jobs, many of the current medical professionals are over the age of 55. This means that, in the near future, the medical field will be in the hands of today’s youth. 

Even if students are not directly going to enter into a healthcare profession, quality education can still help to keep the United States healthier. The University of Colorado Denver conducted a study, The Economic Value of Education for Longer Lives and Reduced Disability, that found a correlation between education levels and life span and health of a person. 

They found links between life longevity and overall education level. People who graduated from high school lived longer than people who did not. 

“We weren’t surprised that the economic value of longer lives would top lifetime earnings, but we couldn’t have guessed the magnitude,” said Virginia Chang, MD, PhD, associate professor of social and behavioral sciences at NYU College of Global Public Health. “One additional year of life is a significant change in life expectancy and has a lot of economic value. When you consider the cost of completing high school or college is significantly less than what we spend on health care, it’s clear that spending on education is going to have a much greater return.”

Through this study, the deduction that education plays a role in health is apparent. Whether students are going into science, technology, engineering and math or if they are pursuing a different career, quality education for all students is important to the future of the United States.