Within the vast and vital universe of healthcare, there are pharmacists and phlebotomists, optometrists and orthotists, sonographers and speech therapists – just to name half a dozen of the many specialists who keep us healthy and happy.
In fact, these professionals work in a field so vast that just calling it all “medicine” isn’t quite enough.
That’s why the Boy Scouts of America this month is introducing the Health Care Professions Merit Badge, a STEM-focused, career-focused badge designed to introduce young people to the roles health professionals play in providing health care.
The badge replaces the Medicine Merit Badge and will include a new Merit Badge Pamphlet and New Requirements, available here. The merit badge decal design will not change.
“When the Medicine Merit Badge was first introduced in 1991, it was developed primarily to focus on the ‘doctors’ side of human health care,” said Lisa Balbes, head of the Scouts BSA committee. “As the field of human medicine expanded through specialization, support services and technology, it became clear that Scouts were interested in other areas of human health care and medical support.”
Trying to develop an individual merit badge for each health care specialty would more than double the number of merit badges available.
Instead, “the BSA has decided to create a single merit badge that will span a wide variety of healthcare careers,” Balbes says.
What kind of health care professions can Scouts learn?
The healthcare professions merit badge is highly customizable, meaning scouts can select which healthcare professions they want to explore further.
Does your Scout have an aunt who is an audiologist or a neighbor who is an anesthetist? They can choose those professions to delve deeper into.
The badge requirements represent Scouts with four groups of health care professions. Within each group, Scouts may choose three that most interest them. They must describe the role these professionals play and investigate which training and licensing requirements those professionals must meet.
The groups are:
- Allopathic Physician (MD) — All Specialties
- Osteopath (DO) — all specialisms
- Podiatrist (DPM)
- Chiropractor (DC)
- Nurse (NP)
- Psychologist (PhD or PsyD)
- Optometrist (OD)
- Audiologist (AudD)
- Physician Assistant (PA)
- Registered Nurse (RN)
- Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
- Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
- License Practical Nurse (LPN/LVN)
- Anesthesiologist (CRNA)
- Pharmacist (PharmD)
- Pharmaceutical Technician
- Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)/paramedic
- Physiotherapist (DPT)
- Occupational Therapist (OT)
- Orthopedist/prosthesis maker
- Medical Equipment Technician
- Respiratory Therapist (RT)
- Medical Assistant
- Dietitian (RD)
- Speech therapist (speech therapist) (SLP)
- Biomedical Engineer (BME)
- Medical Technologist
- Radiology Technologist
- Medical records specialist
For requirement 5, Scouts must choose one of the 33 professions listed above and arrange to visit that professional at their workplace. After that meeting, the Scout should discuss the visit with his chaperone.
That’s a great way for a Scout to get a closer look at important, challenging and well-paid healthcare.
What is the rollout plan?
Scouts who started on the Medicine Merit badge may continue working on it until they finish or turn 18.
After December 31, 2021, Scouts will not be allowed to start working on the medical merit badge and must instead work on the healthcare professions badge.
Print editions of the Pamphlet Earnings in the Healthcare Professions should be available by mid-November.
Why are merit badges updated?
There is much more to a film than cinematography. Therefore, in 2013, the BSA replaced the Cinematography merit badge with the Moviemaking merit badge.
Computers still play a vital role in our society, but they exist in a larger world of digital technology. Therefore, in 2014, the BSA replaced the Computers merit badge with the Digital Technology merit badge.
Are you noticing the trend? The requirements within the BSA’s 138 merit badges are not set in stone. They are regularly adapted to the real world.
That could mean smaller tweaks, like the addition of snowshoeing in 2016 to Snow Sports’ merit badge. Or it could mean major overhauls, like when Cooking became Eagle-required in 2014.
“The National Merit Badge Subcommittee reviews all merit badges every two years,” Balbes says. “We want to make sure they are current and relevant to the needs of today’s scouts.”