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Bachelor of Health Sciences

The Dunedin School of Medicine is proud to be the home of the Bachelor of Health Sciences, a contemporary qualification focussed on future health care services and delivery.

As we face health challenges such as an aging population, increases in chronic diseases, disability, limited health resources and environmental change affecting our community’s health, there is an increasing need to develop new public health care approaches.

With future health care services offering more care in the community, new roles will be developed in order to deliver new models of care. These roles will emphasise assisting individuals, whānau and communities negotiate the services available for health and health care.

The Bachelor of Health Sciences is a three-year degree for those who want to be an integral part of these new health care approaches, with a focus on the areas of public, Māori, Pacific and community health, where graduates may find themselves working in roles such as case managers or care co-ordinators in the health care system.

Our four majors are:

Public Health

Focussing on preventing disease and promoting the health of the population through the organised efforts of society. This differentiates from the practice of personal health care, as it involves collective action across sectors and disciplines, with a focus on populations, communities, health equity and reducing ethnic and socioeconomic inequalities in health.

Public Health teaches you:

  • An understanding of the importance of health equity and a human rights based approach to health.
  • A commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi, and reducing health inequalities for Māori.
  • The importance of reducing health inequities for Pacific and other ethnic groups, as well as reducing inequities in other population groups e.g. age-related inequities.
  • Epidemiology, the science of population health.
  • A sound knowledge of the determinants of health in communities.
  • Health promotion, and disease prevention strategies, with a focus on preventable chronic diseases and infections.
  • An insight into health policy and the structure of health services, their quality, safety, and resource allocation and the economics of decision-making and prioritisation.
  • Environmental health, both locally and globally, including the effects of climate change.
  • Disease prevention strategies, screening, and surveillance.

More information on the Public Health programme requirements

Māori Health

Recognise how integrated approaches to health across multiple sectors increases the value of health care for Māori, and assist with ensuring New Zealand’s health and disability workforce are sufficiently equipped to effectively meet and advocate for the health care needs of Māori.

Māori Health provides you with:

  • Knowledge about:
    • Cultural competency and Māori health.
    • Māori health within a community care context.
    • Māori health research.
    • Māori public health.
  • Insight and understanding into diverse topics such as ethnic inequality, women’s and children’s health, injury, disability, health systems, oral health, and mental health. All taught by Otago’s leading Māori health researchers.
  • Education in a supportive environment that recognises the importance of student success.

More information on the Maori Health programme requirements

Community Health Care

Where you will contribute to the health and well-being of individuals and communities through your knowledge of human health, disease, disabilities and the navigation of the health care system. This qualification will provide you with the skills for multiple roles within the health care workforce where you can co-ordinate and manage health care for individuals and communities.

Community Health Care teaches you:

  • Respect and understanding of experiences and rights of disabled people and people living with long term conditions.
  • The human lifecycle in health and in disease.
  • How to facilitate equitable access to healthcare.
  • An awareness of resources available to support people with a range of disability.
  • An understanding of core illnesses and treatments.
  • About the processes involved with patient assessment and care co-ordination.
  • The intricacies of the health system.
  • An understanding of the biopsychosocial perspective of health and illness.

More information on the Community Health Care programme requirements

Pacific and Global Health

Within the Pacific communities there are a variety of health priorities, services and solutions. Develop an understanding of Pacific peoples’ health in New Zealand and across countries throughout the Pacific by building on your skills and knowledge to serve the needs of diverse communities in New Zealand and internationally.

Pacific and Global Health teaches you:

  • An appreciation of the interconnectedness of the geopolitical, environmental, technological, and economic drivers to health outcomes.
  • Comprehensive knowledge and understanding of Pacific Health in New Zealand.
  • The knowledge and skills to be an effective healthcare worker who understands the needs of diverse communities globally.
  • The knowledge to address Pacific health outcomes within the Pacific region.
  • How to contribute to New Zealand’s commitments to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Health.
  • To be an effective member of a culturally competent workforce helping Pacific people to live longer and healthier lives.

More information on Pacific and Global Health programme requirements

Careers with a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree

This qualification is ideal for those who want to pursue a career path focussed on improving the health of individuals, whānau / fanau and communities.

Potential career opportunities include:

  • Care managers/co-ordinators, health navigators and Community Health workers in organisations such as ACC, MSD, NGOs dealing with health delivery, including to Māori, Pacific peoples, elderly, youth and those with mental health difficulties
  • Care coordinators in primary care
  • Rehabilitation coordinators in secondary care
  • Needs assessors and health advocates (e.g. HDC)
  • Programme coordinators for local and regional government, NGOs, and public health units
  • Policy analysts and advisory roles for government departments, NGOs, the Ministry of Health, District Health Boards and Primary Health Organisations
  • Health promoters (e.g. for Public Health Units, the Mental Health Foundation, the Cancer Society, or Māori health providers)
  • Iwi and Māori health provider policy making, management and service provision
  • Health research

Download the careers in Health Sciences brochure (PDF 1MB)