How General Education Courses Can Help You in Your Career

November 20, 2018

How General Education Courses Can Help You in Your Career

Have you ever taken a general education course and wondered, “What does this have to do with my future career?”

If you have, you’re not alone. Most degree-granting institutions require students to take general education courses—and these courses usually don’t relate directly to your area of study.  Math, psychology, and English are examples of courses that many students take to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree.

But why are these courses a requirement in the first place?

You might be surprised to learn how helpful these courses can be—and how they can set you up for success in your career! Here’s why your general education courses are a valuable piece of your education.

What Employers Want—and How General Education Courses Help You Get There 

According to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the top ten traits employers look for within student resumes as of 2018 are:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Written communication skills
  • Leadership
  • Strong work ethic
  • Analytical and quantitative skills
  • Verbal communication skills
  • Initiative
  • Detail oriented
  • Flexibility and adaptability

So, while concrete skills and experience working in the healthcare industry are great, many employers are also looking for soft skills—or skills that help an employee work as part of an integrated team.

And general education courses can assist you in developing these highly valued soft skills. Here’s how.

Psychology and Sociology

These typical general education courses can help you develop teamwork and communication skills.

Learning about psychology can help you understand what motivates people, and why they react to certain situations in specific ways. This builds a greater level of understanding for your future teammates and patients. When you understand people, you can react to their behavior more objectively and productively, which can help you be a stronger team player.

Sociology, meanwhile, can help you understand group dynamics and customs. That way, you can observe and understand interactions between your team, office, or a room full of patients. Once you know how people interact within a specific group, you can communicate in a way that will resonate better within that group.

Ultimately, having a greater awareness for how people act—both individually and within a group environment—can make you a more empathetic and collaborative team player.

English Composition

In most degree programs, you’ll be required to take a course focusing on writing composition. Since written communication is the top third trait that employers look for, it shouldn’t be surprising that you can develop meaningful skills for the workplace in this course.

English composition courses typically teach you to organize your thoughts and present persuasive arguments via essays and written assignments. Through these lessons, you can learn how to effectively communicate in writing, which you can carry into business communications within your workplace.

You may also take a separate Professional Communications course, which can help you understand how to write emails, reports, and other common business communications.

 Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Some degree programs require you to take a course focusing on critical thinking and problem solving. While not directly related to your field of study, these skills are invaluable to helping you become a well-rounded candidate.

That’s because healthcare employers typically need employees who can think through problems logically and arrive at evidence-based solutions. You may face unique problems and situations in a healthcare setting—and these problems require quick and efficient solutions that put patient care first.

Candidates who can demonstrate these skills may have a better chance at being hired within the healthcare field.

Computer Fundamentals

Your degree program may require you to take a course focused on the basics of using a computer. Computer skills are highly important for anyone looking to enter the healthcare field, because many processes within a healthcare office take place on a computer.

The medical billing and coding process, for example, is computer-based in most offices. Other functions completed on a computer typically include scheduling patients, taking inventory, managing employee schedules, and more.

You may also need to complete administrative tasks that require you to be able to type on a computer keyboard. For administrative roles like this, employers typically look for candidates who can type quickly and with a high degree of accuracy.

Computer Fundamentals courses typically teach you about common hardware, software, operating systems, and other essential applications, which can help you build the computer skills you need to complete the above tasks. Students may also explore the impact of computers and the internet on society.


Your general education courses may include biology, which is an important area of study for many reasons. For one, we wouldn’t have the healthcare treatments and procedures we have today without the field of biology.

Also, this course can provide you with a basic understanding of the human body, which is beneficial for the healthcare field—particularly in direct-care roles.

Your biology course will likely teach you the fundamentals of biological science through interactive activities using the scientific method. Topics can include organism classification, organic molecules, and the study of biological compounds.

Ultimately, biology is the driving force behind medical procedures, treatments, and medical tests, so it’s important for aspiring healthcare workers to understand it.

College Math

Have you ever asked yourself why you need to learn a specific formula or mathematical function?

It’s an understandable question, but math concepts can actually be useful to you in your career. So much so that many employers reported looking for candidates with analytical and quantitative skills!

You may encounter a need for math in several functions within a healthcare career. Pharmacy technicians, for example, need to be able to count out medications and understand dosage requirements. Medical billers and coders usually need to understand math in order to complete the billing process properly.

Topics you’ll typically learn in a College Math course include algebra, geometry, statistics, ratios, and more. These math concepts can help you with healthcare functions like recording data, taking inventory, counting prescriptions, and performing various tasks like taking blood pressure.

These Courses Help You Build Valuable Soft Skills

 As you can see, general education courses can be a valuable part of your education. They can help you become a well-rounded candidate with attributes that employers look for.  

So the next time you’re writing an essay or working through a math problem, remember—you’re building skills that could help you in your pursuit of a healthcare career!


About the Author

is an award-winning writer and journalist with years of experience within the healthcare and education space. She has contributed to dozens of periodicals, publications and blogs, and she specializes in providing well-researched and thought-provoking content.

The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ultimate Medical Academy.

The UMA Blog covers information and advice for employers and workers at the intersection of healthcare, education and employment. Our contributors are intimately familiar with a wide range of subjects covering professional development, career advancement, workplace politics, healthcare industry specific topics, personal finance, education and so much more. Learn what you need to get ahead and stay ahead.

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