The director of UCF’s Department of Health Management and Informatics is pushing for a health policy elective to become a general education course to enhance students’ understanding of health care.
“I don’t think the general population of the U.S. understands the delivery of health care and their role in making sure that health care is delivered efficiently and effectively,” said Mark Bush, director of health management and informatics.
Bush is currently leading for a second time a faculty initiative to bring information about health care policy to more students. He said he intends to make HSA 2117 Civic Engagement, a new three-credit elective and introductory health care course offered since summer 2018, a general education course, making it required for graduation.
There are no health care policy courses given as a general education program option in any school in the state, according to the Florida Department of Education.
Bush said he hopes to have the course become included in the GEP by fall 2019. Bush said a course has to be approved by the Florida Department of Education in order to become a part of the GEP in Florida.
According to the Florida Department of Education‘s official website, there are faculty committees that approve of general education core courses under the 30-hour state general education requirement. The faculty committees are directed by a General Education Steering Committee, which is made up of members from the Florida college system and state university system.
The committees have identified five post-secondary courses in each of the general education subject areas of communication, mathematics, social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences that comprise the general education core, the site reads. To complete the general education requirements, students must complete at least one course from each of the general education subject areas.
However, any remaining hours required to complete the general education requirement are “at the discretion of the institution,” according to the site.
According to UCF‘s official website, the GEP consists of about 36 hours of English, math, historical and cultural, science and social science coursework. The completion of UCF’s GEP is a graduation requirement.
Bush said the initiative is intended to provide all students the option to understand the American health care system. Bush said the course gives an introductory look at different types of health care policies and the role of citizens in affordability and delivery of health care.
Barbara Andraka-Christou, a UCF health informatics assistant professor, said she believes education is the best way to spread information about health care. Andraka-Christou said she believes college students tend to be overly confident about their health, adding that some students avoid regular checkups by a physician because they think they’re young and healthy.
Olivia Randall-Kosich, one of Andraka-Christou’s students and a graduate health informatics major who intends to become a health policy professor in the future, said spreading health care information is crucial.
“We need to find a way to spread information about health care because health care is something that affects everyone sooner or later,” Randall-Kosich said.
Rachel Totaram is another one of Andraka-Christou’s students who is passionate about educating people on the health care system. Totaram also said she aspires to become a professor of health care policy herself.
If the course is accepted by the Florida Department of Education, it will be offered as an option alongside the other social foundation courses, such as U.S. Government, Introduction to Sociology and Principles of Macroeconomics. UCF students are required to complete one course from each section.
The social foundations are separated into two sections. Area one features three introductory courses to psychology, sociology and anthropology. Area two features three courses in political science, history and economics. It hasn’t been decided under which section of the social foundation requirements the new health care policy course would fall under if approved.
“Education is really important,” said Totaram, a mass and quality analyst for Orlando Health and health informatics doctorate student. “We need to find a way to disseminate information about health care. Some more public health funding would also be great.”
Totaram said she believes the topic of health care has become too political that people aren’t understanding the real issue of access and affordability.
According to Florida Policy Institute, an institution that provides fact-based, nonpartisan analyses of fiscal and economic policies, state budgets and revenue trends, according to its official website. The rate of uninsured people in Florida is more than 4 percent higher than the national average. In Florida, an estimated 2 million residents are not covered by health insurance, which means 13 percent of residents do not have health insurance coverage.
Totaram said she believes lack of proper information is a key reason for flaws that she believes exist within the American health care system. She cited lack of access and affordability of health care are two of those flaws. Totaram said she believes the reason health care is not easily accessible is because of the high prices of private health insurance. She said this leads to preventable diseases affecting many more Americans in comparison to other developed nations such as Japan and Germany.
Totaram said if more people were informed about health care policy, the system would evolve to offer lower prices for coverage and create more access for everyone.
“Exploring global perspectives to health and understanding the world system, that would be great for more people to learn,” Totaram said. “In order to understand what you have, you have to understand what you don’t have.”
Bush said if the course becomes a general education course, he will spread the word to students by contacting the different departments in order to notify students through email and announcements.
Totaram said she believes the ultimate impact of students having more general knowledge on health care policy would be the development of an educated vote in elections.
“If everyone had some sort of understanding, we would have more informed voters,” Totaram said. “That would be ideal where people are making decisions based off of the information that they know.”