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Business of health minor launching in 2025

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A new business of health minor coming to UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School broadens the scope of offerings for undergraduate students interested in careers at the rapidly evolving intersection of business and health.

Launching in January 2025, the minor is open to undergraduate non-business majors and will give business majors an additional area of emphasis option. The curriculum will cover pressing business challenges in healthcare, provide an overview of U.S. health policy and incorporate core business courses and electives. Applications for the first cohort will be available in summer 2024.

“The creation of the business of health minor is a direct response to consistent feedback from our students, alumni and industry partners,” says Professor Shimul Melwani, Undergraduate Business Program associate dean. “The healthcare sector is central to the U.S. economy. North Carolina, with its vast healthcare economy, is continually in search of well-trained talent, making this minor timely and relevant.”

The minor is a comprehensive and collaborative effort. Core classes will be primarily taught at UNC Kenan-Flagler along with a course at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Electives will be offered by the Business School, Department of Economics, Department of Philosophy, UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media and the Carolina Health Informatics Program.

“The real innovation in the minor is the ability to bring together a diverse set of students with varied experiences to learn together,” says Zoey Kernodle, director of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Center for the Business of Health “Business leaders, clinicians, pharmacists, public health leaders, engineers, ethicists — you name it, they all need to be able to work together and see the bigger picture. This type of collaboration and partnership should begin before entering the workforce.”

Healthcare and related industries account for about 20% of the U.S.’ gross domestic product (GDP).

In 2022, hospitals and health systems generated $40 billion to North Carolina’s GDP, and the healthcare industry supported more than 515,000 jobs in the state — about 8% of all jobs, according to the North Carolina Healthcare Association. North Carolina continues to be a powerhouse in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.

As of 2023, 810 life-sciences companies employing 75,000 operate in the state, according to a TEConomy Partners report prepared for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, a nonprofit corporation based in Research Triangle Park supporting life sciences industry growth in the state. The report also found that there has been a 38% rise in the number of life science-related businesses in the state since 2018.

At the same time, the industry is coping with a slew of challenges, including clinician burnout and significant nurse shortages, a rapidly aging population and high costs, says Kernodle.

“We hope that students in our minor will make a positive impact on challenges and opportunities that exist in the U.S. healthcare landscape,” says Kernodle. “Students who complete this minor will develop strong skills and knowledge, along with experience working with peers who have different strengths and skillsets. This will differentiate them as they pursue careers across healthcare.”