College-bound students looking for an employment edge should consider a strong liberal arts school

May 13, 2013

Thurs_birck_3678 edwebsmallLisle, Illinois ~ Some health organizations, hospitals and doctor’s offices get bad reputations for mass producing health care that can limit doctor-patient interaction.

Patients, doctors and health insurance companies are at times at odds on how best to implement quality patient care. However, most agree that a strong liberal arts education helps practitioners provide the best service to patients – and better care means a healthier society and lower medical costs.

There is a growing trend among higher education institutions to ensure future scientists, health care practitioners, business leaders and information technology gurus understand liberal arts are vital to excelling in their fields. Students who enjoy a strong liberal arts curriculum make better doctors and business professionals who have strong writing skills and cross-cultural understanding. They also are more open-minded, sensitive and conscientious to others’ needs.

Known for its rigorous science programs, Benedictine University incorporates values-centered studies into core degree requirements. By doing so, the University creates well-rounded graduates who are not only well-versed and practiced in their field of study, but also bring a personal value and concern for others that can enhance performance.

“We don’t teach our students what to think – we teach them how to think,” said Benedictine University President William J. Carroll, Ph.D.

Medical schools are now teaching Carroll’s premise, requiring their students to take seminars and courses aimed at training future doctors on how to be compassionate and culturally aware. These medical students also take writing and art courses to help them to think critically and improve their concentration.
                                                          
Likewise, some Benedictine students and alumni say the core liberal arts curriculum better prepared them for pursuing careers in health care.

“I feel that the liberal arts programs encouraged me to pursue my interest in the humanities, history and arts, as well as helped me to cultivate my creativity,” said Benedictine senior Paul Nguyen, who graduated in May with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. “By supplementing my science electives with courses on Russian history, medieval history, poetry and studies in the contemporary world, I felt that I was being stimulated in courses in both logic and creativity.”

Nguyen said his appreciation for the arts and love of poetry has helped him to refocus as he pursues a biology-related career. He believes he will have a unique advantage because of the clarity and stimulation he gained through integrating liberal arts courses with his aptitude in science.

One Benedictine alumnus touted the mix of science curriculum with core liberal arts programs, saying it gave him an advantage in medical school.

“During my first year at medical school, I realized how prepared I was compared to other students in the program. I was way ahead because Benedictine’s pre-med program is so far ahead of many others,” said James P. Sostak, M.D., C01, now an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon in Illinois.

Many science students do not go on to medical school but instead compete with career changers for jobs in health fields. It will be even more important for students to excel in liberal arts studies which will provide lifelong competencies applicable across any career. The aging American population offers many opportunities to be successful in health care, and the liberal arts and values-centered approach at Benedictine gives students a proven advantage.

“Benedictine also carefully crafts its health program curriculum around a valuable liberal arts core to ensure its graduates are not only knowledgeable and practiced in science, but have creativity, compassion and are highly intuitive to providing optimum care and performance in any chosen career,” said Alan Gorr, Ph.D., dean of Benedictine’s College of Education and Health Services.

Benedictine’s College of Business programs are aimed at educating future business leaders who can lead successful, socially responsible and sustainable companies globally. A hands-on approach to learning incorporates liberal arts programming into business know-how.

To meet employer expectations, students must become engaged in the classroom, participate in service learning (working with outside organizations on professional projects), earn internships and participate with employment outreach, according to Rick Cali, associate dean of Benedictine's College of Business.

"Participation in University clubs for leadership development and taking advantage of study abroad opportunities also are experiences that bring value to the student," Cali said.

Great businesses don’t materialize through chemiosmosis and a winning business proposal doesn’t happen through diffusion. Business leaders must not only have the creativity but also the skill set to take an idea to the next steps. Liberal arts programs provide both.

Because the marketplace is overcrowded with job seekers with compatible levels of education, employers are seeking “golden egg” hires who are well-educated, well-versed in their fields and exhibit good values, leadership, compassion, creativity and team-orientation. In a nutshell –
someone who can do it all.

Balancing any chosen major with liberal arts gives students a well-rounded edge, and universities like Benedictine that know the value of this integration are not only ahead of the field but are also better preparing their graduates to fill needed careers.

The ultimate goal of attending college is to earn a degree that will lead to a productive and sustainable career and life. College seekers who want to achieve this goal and have an edge after graduation should investigate a strong liberal arts college.

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Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 56 undergraduate majors, 16 graduate and four doctorate programs. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently ranked Benedictine University as the seventh fastest-growing campus among private nonprofit master’s universities, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among the top 20 percent of America’s colleges for 2011. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business as the fourth largest in the Chicago area in 2011.

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