SUNY Cortland is the best college for health and wellness majors in New York State, according to a new ranking by a company created to help college students find and pursue careers.
Zippia.com this week recognized the College’s excellence in preparing students for careers in health-related fields by naming it the top New York school in that category. In addition to the popular majors offered through SUNY Cortland’s Health Department, the College offers degrees in exercise science, athletic training, therapeutic recreation, fitness development, speech and hearing science and physical education.
Cortland’s 2018 graduating class included 265 health and wellness majors, according to Zippia, which also looked at factors such as career results, admissions rates, graduation rates and the average cost of attendance.
“SUNY Cortland has long had a reputation as a campus that encourages fitness and heathy living,” President Erik J. Bitterbaum said. “But that focus runs much deeper; shaping our mission and influencing how we prepare students to go out and make a difference in the world. Every year, a large number of our new alumni dedicate themselves to pursuing careers that help the world become a healthier place.
SUNY Cortland is one of several dozen colleges in the United States committed to the ambitious guidelines of Partnership for a Healthier America’s (PHA) Healthier Campus Initiative, which looks at how colleges offer their students healthy opportunities in the areas of food and nutrition, physical activity and wellness programming. Much of that programming is rooted in the Health Department.
The department offers four majors - Community Health, Health Education, Healthcare Management and Human Service Studies - as well as two graduate programs in Community Health and Health Education. All students complete an internship in their area of interest, which gives them hands-on learning opportunities and prepares them for their next step.
“Our job placement is doing really well these days and it’s because we require an internship,” said Distinguished Service Professor and department chair Bonni Hodges. “That just gives them so much good, practical experience and application of what they’ve learned.”
SUNY Cortland’s Health Promotion Office gives students experience in the field by planning and implementing events on campus that highlight the College’s commitment to health and wellness. The office offered 95 unique programs during the 2017-18 academic year that reached about 12,000 people. Those events include Wellness Wednesdays, Open Mic Night, Green Dot Bystander Trainings and Body Appreciation Week.
That hands-on experience helps many SUNY Cortland graduates find work in the varied fields of public health, including clinical, educational and management sectors.
Recent Community Health majors are employed in administration at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, as a healthcare educator at Mount Sinai Health System and as a nutrition counselor for the Broome County Health Department, to give just a few examples. Others are continuing their education at SUNY Cortland and other colleges and universities across the country.
“We also get feedback from our graduates in many cases that the internship is what gets them in the door with their first job,” Hodges said.
Approximately 50 percent of SUNY Cortland health graduates immediately enter the workforce and the other half pursue graduate education.
Hodges also lauded the department’s professors for their dedication to staying up-to-date on the biggest issues in the field.
“We have fantastic faculty,” she said. “They’re not only fantastic in what they teach, but they’re out there in the real world, consulting, helping people, doing service and sitting on boards. We know what is current. We’re not just basing everything on what we learned when we were in graduate school.”
The department added the healthcare management major, one of the first of its kind in the State University of New York system, at the start of the 2018-19 academic year. It will provide training for roles that include finance, human resources or business management across various settings, including hospitals, nursing homes and larger healthcare systems.