You may be attracted to North Carolina for its Appalachian Mountains or for its plains that extend outward toward the coast. Or you may like the state for its job availability, particularly in occupations in healthcare. In fact, some of the state's largest employers offer services in healthcare, including WakeMed Health and Hospitals, Wake Forest Baptist Health and Duke Children's Hospital.
Overall, healthcare and social assistance jobs in North Carolina are expected to grow by 16.1 percent by 2026, potentially leading to 93,000 new jobs — meaning there could be many job openings in the future for new graduates of schools. Whether you want to seek work in Winston-Salem, find employment in Asheville or start a new job in Greensboro, online healthcare colleges in North Carolina could be a step toward getting there.
3 Facts about Healthcare in North Carolina
There are various factors that can affect the demand for healthcare — and jobs — in North Carolina. While factors from physician shortages to increased need for services from the large Baby Boomer population are more national, the trends below are pertinent to the Tar Heel State. These three facts could be interesting to young adults looking to enroll in one of the best healthcare colleges in North Carolina.
- Healthy North Carolina 2020: A statewide initiative, Healthy North Carolina 2020 addresses that state's most urgent health issues and comprises 40 different objectives. One of these objectives is to increase the number of adults eating five or more vegetables a day, while another is to decrease the number of adults losing permanent teeth as a result of gum disease or decay. Dental hygienists, medical assistants and respiratory therapists might be important in helping push this initiative forward.
- Opioid Crisis: Recent data shows that more opioid-related overdose deaths than expected occurred in the state in 2017. In fact, the state ranked the third highest for increases in overdoses from 2016 to 2017, according to the CDC. Students interested in nurse practitioner or even mental health care careers could make a difference if they choose to enroll in accredited healthcare schools in North Carolina.
- Rural Healthcare: Nurse practitioners, physician assistants and mental health counselors might be able to put their skills to work in the eastern part of the state, which was sorely impacted by Hurricane Florence at the end of 2018. Small businesses, sewer systems and even the fishing and agriculture industries were impacted, but the presence of educated healthcare professionals could help those who are struggling with new challenges.
Most Popular Healthcare Degrees in North Carolina
Below is our ranking of the most popular Healthcare degrees in North Carolina, based off how many degrees of each type were awarded by North Carolina schools in the 2017-18 school year.
Best Healthcare Careers in North Carolina
Need for healthcare occupations differs from state-to-state, but in North Carolina, demand for two positions is particularly eye-catching. These are the occupations of physician assistant and medical assistant, jobs which are expected to grow by 37.7 percent and 28.9 percent, respectively (ProjectionsCentral.com). Other healthcare fields are promising, too — after all, keep in mind that the state is ranked 33rd overall in health and has nearly 15 percent of residents living below the poverty line (HealthAffairs.org). Accredited healthcare schools in North Carolina could be a way for future students to gain an education and to pursue a healthcare career in the Tar Heel State.
How to pick a healthcare major that's best for you?
The truth is there are many different healthcare occupations to choose from. Whether you want to become a masseuse in Charlotte, a dental assistant in Raleigh or a physician assistant in Durham, a college education is typically beneficial to the job — and often required.
One starting point to think about is the amount of time you want to invest in an education. A certificate or diploma program can get you more quickly into a field compared with a master's degree program, which requires more education. However, most entry-level jobs pay less than those requiring advanced learning. Another option is to start with an associate degree. In a two-year program, you can gain adequate skills for a job and later on choose to complete a four-year degree.
Another consideration is personality fit. If you like technology, for instance, you might think about a major that uses diagnostic equipment, such as radiological sciences, clinical laboratory science or healthcare informatics. If you are really patient-oriented or into problem-solving, then medical assisting or medical office administration might be more for you. Talk to experts who already work in these fields to get a better idea of what different positions might entail and how they might suit you.
Best Online Healthcare Schools in North Carolina
We created a ranking of the top online healthcare schools in North Carolina to help students learn more about the various undergraduate and master's degree programs available. We pulled data from IPEDS, only analyzing schools that had a degree or certificate program in a healthcare subject and in an online or hybrid format. While some schools on this list have entry-level programs, others offer more advanced online degrees. Keep on reading, especially since this list of the 10 best healthcare colleges in North Carolina could have exactly what you are looking for.
Students at Winston-Salem State University, founded in 1892, can find hybrid or online learning opportunities available in clinical laboratory science, health administration, rehabilitation nursing and graduate nursing. Each of the online programs has different requirements, making entry and completion unique from one program to the other. For example, the clinical laboratory science (CLS) program requires students to have a prior background in medical laboratory technology before being admitted to work on a bachelor's degree in CLS online.
In addition to online programs, individual classes in healthcare are also available through distance learning. The online degree and individual courses are offered through the Blackboard learning management system. Students who do pursue an online healthcare education at Winston-Salem can enhance their skills through the School of Health Sciences' two virtual hospitals or its hands-on mobile wellness university, known as HOW.
Offering more than 60 overall degree paths, Fayetteville State University includes online degree completion (ODC) programs among its choices. In healthcare, an ODC program is available to students who already have a background in nursing and want to obtain a bachelor's degree. FSU's online RN-to-BSN degree can be completed full time in 2.5 semesters or part time in five semesters. Additionally, clinical hours are required for two senior level classes: Community Health and the Senior Practicum.
Online coursework at Fayetteville State University is offered through the Canvas learning management system and degree completion programs are available in close to a dozen other areas — just not healthcare. Students also can take individual online courses through Canvas, but priority registration is given to students seeking a bachelor's degree online.
Students interested in online healthcare schools in North Carolina, particularly for more education in nursing, might look at the RN-to-BSN online degree program offered through North Carolina Central University. One of many different bachelor's degrees offered online, the nursing program is open to students who already possess either an associate degree or a diploma in nursing. The program is offered entirely online, although some senior classes require an on-site practicum or preceptorship. Twenty-two credits are needed for completion of the RN-to-BSN program.
Students take their nursing courses through the Blackboard learning management system. They also can access resources such as off-site career fairs, online career assessments and even online tutoring.
The fourth largest university in the Tar Heel State, East Carolina University (ECU) offers more than 100 certificate and degree programs online, including degree completion programs. Online degrees in health include a bachelor of science in health information management or health services management, both which can be completed entirely online (though they may require an internship).
The university, established in 1907, also offers a four-semester online RN-to-BSN degree for registered nurses who want to work toward a bachelor's degree. Students in ECU's online nursing program build relationships with other students by taking online classes in cohorts. Distance learners also can access Career Services, the Writing Center and the library, as well as tutoring via the Pirate Academic Success Center.
Wayne Community College, founded in 1958, is one of the online healthcare schools in North Carolina that offers education in medical office administration at the certificate, diploma and associate degree levels. Coursework for these three programs is available entirely online, but students can opt to attend some classes on-campus instead, creating a hybrid program suited to their needs.
Wayne Community College's online courses are delivered in an eight or 16-week format, typically following the length of the on-campus course counterpart. Students can access their syllabus and coursework through the Moodle learning platform, but do still need to purchase textbooks for their classes. Learners also may need to be on campus for proctored tests. A library card is provided to remote learners, who also have access to online databases, reference services and inter-library loans.
Students looking for online healthcare programs in North Carolina can consider Pitt Community College, which has many offerings. Found in 1961, the school offers online diplomas, online certificates and online associate of applied science degrees — not just in healthcare, but in many additional disciplines as well. Areas of study in healthcare include computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging technology, breast sonography, emergency medical science and sundry additional paths of study.
Students also can pursue either a diploma, certificate or associate degree in online medical office administration. PCC's online courses are delivered through the Moodle learning platform. The PCC Library also has resources available for remote learners. Distance students need to attend a campus orientation, but they may be able to do this online if they qualify.
Various graduate-level healthcare programs are available online at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. These programs, including certificates and master's degrees, are designed for students interested in sophisticated fields like public health, epidemiology, molecular diagnostic science, global health and related subjects. Graduate-level certificate programs, like in occupational health nursing, can be completed in as little as 18 months while full master's degrees typically take 22 months or longer.
UNC at Chapel Hill also offers single continuing education courses online through the Gillings School of Public Health, which opened in 1940. Online students also can engage in research, attend symposiums and participate in practicums as close by as North Carolina or as far away as Lilongwe, Malawi.
Young adults looking for the best healthcare colleges in North Carolina may be thrilled at the various opportunities available through North Carolina A&T State University. In conjunction with Health Ed Today, the university's continuing education department offers healthcare certificates in disciplines that include dental assisting, medical billing and coding, electronic health records management, phlebotomy and more. Altogether, certificates are offered online in eight different allied healthcare fields.
National board certifications exams are available for each of the online healthcare certificate areas. Clinical externships, 24/7 instructor support, course mentoring and online performance tracking are part of the school's online certificate programs. All students also have access to a secure portal that features course videos, animated simulations, career resources, resume writing and more.
Accredited healthcare schools in North Carolina include Fayetteville Technical Community College, which offers sundry diploma, certificate and associate degrees online, but only one online program in the healthcare field. This is FTCC's five-month associate of applied science degree in healthcare management technology. The degree is composed of five consecutive semesters including a summer term. However, students are admitted in the fall of each year only, with some exceptions.
The online AAS degree is designed to help students seek healthcare business and financial operations careers at sites such as clinics, hospitals, insurance companies, medical offices and long-term care facilities. Additionally, graduates of the associate degree program should be prepared to sit for various related certification exams, such as Certified Patient Account Manager, after gaining a minimum of two years of work experience.
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro offers online education programs at the undergraduate and graduate level for students interested in healthcare and other disciplines. In healthcare, online degree programs include, but are not limited to, a Bachelor of Science in Public Health, a Bachelor of Science in Health Studies and a Master of Science in Gerontology.
Online courses are offered either asynchronously or synchronously at UNC at Greensboro, established in 1891 and one of the three schools to first comprise the now-17-campus UNC system. Online learners can expect the same rigor and quality as campus-based programs and are able to access Career Services, where they can find research on industry employers, help with communication and presentations, and job placement support.
Professional Healthcare Organizations in North Carolina
Students enrolled in online healthcare schools in North Carolina can find networking events, research and even educational support through professional associations in North Carolina. While membership usually comes with a fee, this amount is often reduced for students in many organizations. Membership may be particularly important for online students who are seeking more information on employment opportunities or connections in North Carolina. Some of the professional healthcare organizations in North Carolina include the: