Life and Careers With a Human Biology DegreeWritten by Dr. Beth Bennett
How can God use me to advance His Kingdom if I get a Human Biology degree from Sattler College?
The limits of the Almighty’s creativity are boundless, but in this post I will explore some of the career options and life opportunities available to those achieving a degree in Human Biology.
The first grouping of careers use the Human Biology degree as a launching pad into the field of medicine. The most classic and famous of all the medical careers is that of the physician. To achieve a Medical Doctorate (M.D.) or Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) is a long and arduous effort. The reward is a corresponding amount of flexibility and opportunity. Physicians are in demand across the globe and have many opportunities to serve in the Kingdom of God. Some serve in remote mission clinics, others use the degree to open mission doors in societies usually closed to Christianity, still others serve the needs of their home communities by providing local healthcare and testimony. The Church at large is also in need of faithful physicians who can help discern the Christian response to the many bioethical dilemmas of contemporary medical technology. The career of physician has many sub-specialties including general practitioner, surgeon, cardiologist, endocrinologist, neurologist, urologist, and internal medicine specialist, to name a few, each with its own opportunities and limitations. Some would be more beneficial in a rural family practice setting; others would open doors in a busy urban life.
Similar career and life options are available to the anesthetist, who puts you to sleep before surgeries, the dentist who specializes in teeth, the optometrist who looks after the eyes, the podiatrist who takes care of the feet, or the radiologist who is key in delivering correct diagnoses. Some of these careers with their specialties are in particular demand in poorer regions around the globe, as many who earn the degrees migrate to richer areas for higher pay.
Healthcare careers requiring a little less time and expense to achieve include Nurse Practitioner, Physician Assistant, Physical Therapist, or Occupational Therapist. These degrees require a masters or doctorate level program after the undergraduate degree. There may be a little less flexibility or prestige in comparison to a traditional doctoral degree, but they are very beneficial to the many they help heal. A physician assistant in family practice may be perfect for the health care needs of a rural community or a backwoods mission. An occupational therapist in an urban clinic may have opportunities to interact with people and cultures spanning the globe, or she could easily transport her skills to “creative access” countries.
The expanding technology, growing complexity, and increasing regulation of the world of health care is opening up numerous new careers in the area of public health. Careers in public health can take many forms. The health care administrator organizes and oversees the work of the busy healthcare professionals at a hospital, clinic, or care facility. An epidemiologist strategizes about how to mitigate diseases, both infectious and genetic. Microbiologists specialize in the world of microscopic organisms, preparing some to oversee our food safety. Other careers include community health care education, data analysts who identify the best health care practices, dieticians, nutritionists, occupational health and safety officers, and social and community service managers who make resources available to the public.
Many of these careers provide opportunities for serving the Christian community and the surrounding society. Some communities fund and support health care clinics or facilities, locally or abroad, which could use knowledgeable managers and staff. Serving the needs of the hurting and vulnerable provides opportunities to display the compassion and care of Jesus towards their lives. These careers are also easily transportable and beneficial to the developing world.
Many non-profits and non-governmental organizations take public health services to areas where the national infrastructures cannot support them. For example, Christians in public health have led studies to determine the best methods for promoting pediatric health in Cambodia, enabled better maternal-child health practices in Afghanistan, and studyed hypertension management strategies in Tanzania, just to touch the tip of the iceberg.
“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.” The Christian researcher works to build the kingdom of God in the spirit of this verse (Proverbs 25:2). Biomedical research is the foundation for most medical treatments. Biomedical research most commonly takes place in academic, industry, or governmental spheres. Each sphere has its own strengths and weaknesses. In general, academic (university-based) research is less lucrative, but it is more flexible in lifestyle and has a broad range of topics that one can study. Much “basic science” knowledge (fundamental knowledge of how things work, regardless of applicability) comes from this realm. Industry-based research is very focused on developing therapies that are financially rewarding, though these also usually have more obvious direct health benefits. Government-based research is similar to academic research but involves a different funding mechanism. For someone with innate curiosity about the mechanisms of nature and an interest in serving mankind, research offers the thrill of being the person to discover the intricacies of God’s design in a platform that can offer hope to the suffering. Biomedical researchers were the laborers who discovered antibiotics, the polio vaccine, hypertension drugs, synthetic insulin and many other discoveries which are boons to humanity today.
Researchers wear many hats. Here are just a few. The basic scientist in any field designs and executes experiments to uncover knowledge of the fundamental mechanisms that drive natural phenomena. This could involve biochemistry, cell models, organoids, or animal studies. The medicinal chemist uses organic chemistry to synthesize compounds with potential therapeutic potential. Clinical researchers analyze patient data. This may be in response to a specified trial treatment or may be retrospect to mine for potential relationships between genetics, treatments, environments, and a host of other factors. This includes conducting clinical trials for new medical treatments. Bioinformaticians analyze large data sets of information. These could be genetic variations within a population, protein-DNA interactions, or gene expression profiles. A grasp of computer programming is advantageous for this field. Geneticists identify and study relationships between the DNA code and physical outcomes. Biomaterials researchers develop new materials to interact with biological systems.
Beyond being a direct application of God’s command to “subdue” the earth, biomedical research opens the doors for a diversity of opportunities to work for the Kingdom of God. Biomedical research centers commonly have a diversity of cultures and religions from all corners of the globe. In this type of workplace Christians can not only interact with all types of peoples, but can also influence members of cultural elites from around the world. These are people who can more easily have a much wider influence among their home communities than a foreigner could. These are also people whose influential family members sometimes make decisions on how to deal with Christian believers in their homelands.
There are many other diverse options one can pursue with a human biology degree. A pharmacist dispenses medications and is a key player in preventing negative medical interactions. Science teachers are indispensable for equipping the next generation to interact with the physical world. Veterinary medicine requires similar expertise as a medical doctor but assists a greater diversity of “patients.” Biomanufacturing utilizes biomaterials like enzymes and bacteria to make materials on an industrial scale. They direct the production of biopharmaceuticals (insulin synthesis), food and beverage ingredients (many health supplements), and industrial materials (like “green” cleaners). Biotechnologists utilize information from genetic make-up to biochemical reactions to develop novel and efficient production pathways for bioorganic materials. Patent lawyers merge expertise in law and science to give rightful credit to those who generate novel tools in science.
How might the Lord use you if you were to get a Human Biology degree from Sattler College? As described, God has many avenues for using individuals throughout the breadth of the sciences for His glory and the benefit of humanity. The degree offers a wealth of career options with a diversity of strengths, personalities, and life opportunities to put to use in the Kingdom.
Interested in talking with an admissions adviser about career possibilities?
Dr. Beth Bennett, PhD
Dr. Bennett received her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Shippensburg University. She then moved to the University of Maryland Baltimore where she received a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology while working in the lab of Dr. Gerald Wilson. The emphasis of her research was mRNA stability and the biophysics of RNA-protein interactions. After graduating, Beth worked as a post-doctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Phil Cole, first at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland, and then at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. There her research interests have been in epigenetic pharmacology, primarily involving acetyltransferase enzymes.
Beth Zucconi was born to a family of school teachers in the foothills of the Pennsylvania mountains near the town of Shippensburg. From both of her parents she was taught a love of God, a love of the Church, and the joys of learning new things. From a father of Italian-American heritage came an appreciation for travel, good stories, pasta, and other intriguing foods. From a Swiss-German mother came a love of order, attention to detail, and hearty work. This blend of attributes coalesced merrily in the academic world, where each became useful in crafting a life far different than practiced in the Cumberland Valley. In 2017, Beth married David Bennett III. They live together in the city of Boston with their toddler son.
Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay