Few career paths are as well respected as that of the healthcare field. Whether you are interested in working as a primary care provider or prefer to work as a nurse or nurse practitioner, taking care of others when they are in need is a noble and very important job. In fact, healthcare providers are some of the most important workers in the world for people at every stage of life. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in the United States, the industry is poised to expand by about 16% by 2030. This translates into around 17 million new jobs.
Is a job in healthcare the right choice for you? Not everyone is a good fit for healthcare, but we think that it is a great career option for many. Let’s look at what a career in healthcare looks like from job title to daily practice.
What does a career in healthcare look like?
There are many types of healthcare providers. The career is not limited to nursing or doctoring, but rather extends to positions such as athletic trainer, veterinary technician, pharmacist, and even a variety of consulting roles in industries such as research, maintenance, communications and finance.
A career in healthcare can look wildly different depending upon your interests and desired field. If you’d like to work directly with patients in a hospital, for example, you can do that. Some people like the healthcare industry but prefer to work in a business environment. Consulting roles might work best for those individuals. You must understand what you are looking for before you can start your search to find the right position in the healthcare industry.
Whether are you interested in mental health, have a passion for athletics or are dedicated to helping people develop healthy diets designed to meet their specific needs, there is a job in the healthcare industry for you.
How can I pursue a career in healthcare?
Being interested in becoming a healthcare worker and understanding where to begin are two different things. Here are a few steps to take when looking into beginning your career:
Meet educational requirements
Due to the fact that healthcare workers are directly responsible for the health and wellbeing of other people, they must meet rigorous educational and training guidelines before they are licensed and/or certified. The exact amount of time you spend training, however, can vary widely from one career to another.
The first step to take when pursuing a career in healthcare is to determine how much educational time and practical training you must complete. Try looking up your state’s requirements along with the programs that universities or colleges you’re interested in attending are offering. This should give you a good idea about what kind of requirements you will have to meet before you can find a job.
Luckily, there are jobs available at almost every level of education, from a high school diploma to a Ph.D. With a high school diploma, for example, you can pursue the following careers:
- Home health aide
- Pharmacy technician
- Psychiatric aide
- Lab animal caretaker
- Veterinary assistant
If you are willing to obtain an associate’s degree, the available jobs increase greatly. Here are some of the jobs you can pursue with an associate’s degree:
- Dental hygienist
- Licensed practical nurse
- Medical assistant
- Certified nursing assistant
- MRI technologist
- Radiation therapist
- Veterinary technician
A bachelor’s degree is required for positions such as (but not limited to):
- Athletic trainer
- Recreational therapist
- Registered nurse
A master’s degree is required for more complex positions, such as (but not limited to):
- Nurse midwife
- Mental health counselor
- Nurse practitioner
- Occupational therapist
Finally, a Ph.D. is required for positions such as (but not limited to):
- Physical therapist
Once you understand the educational and training requirements of your career of choice, you should take a look at the skills you will need for the role.
Each position in healthcare demands mastery over different skill sets, but there are some common traits that successful healthcare professionals have.
First, interpersonal communication skills are critical. Whether you are interacting with patients and physicians or are working in a lab with coworkers, you must communicate clearly with all parties. When someone’s health is in your hands, collaboration with a care team, as well as other third parties, is important. A strong work ethic is an important trait to have too, as healthcare professionals carry too much responsibility to do anything other than their best.
Most roles in healthcare also require mathematic or technical abilities in varying degrees along with a great deal of maturity. A desire to learn new technology and the flexibility to change the way you do things as you learn new skills are useful traits too, which can help “future proof” you as industry standards shift in response to evolving tech.
Understand the work environment
You might love a specific area of healthcare, but are you suited to work in a related role? Some people have an intense interest in a particular topic but are unsuited to jobs in the field. Perhaps you are interested in research, for example, but can’t manage working independently. While you might be working with other people as a researcher, you will also have to have the work ethic and responsibility to keep yourself on track – and not everyone does. It is important to be honest with yourself about whether your interests align with your work style and personality.
When it comes to working in healthcare, it is important to understand the work environment and how it supports, or conflicts with, your personality and skillsets. Do some research and soul searching before you complete your education and begin looking for a job only to find that it is a poor fit.
Benefits of working in healthcare
Every career has its ups and downs, but the healthcare career has an impressive number of positives to help balance out anything else. While it would be impossible in this article to cover every single advantage, we explore some of the most prevalent below.
We’ve already discussed the upward trajectory of the healthcare industry and the significant growth it is expected to undergo over the next decade, so it should come as no surprise that job security is a benefit of this career path. When you decide to work in the healthcare field, you can rest assured that your services are needed and will be in demand for many years to come.
Some careers revolve around a certain kind of work, with even specialized work using the same skills and procedures as other jobs in the industry. The healthcare industry is the exact opposite. There are so many elements in healthcare that professionals can study what interests them and build a career based on something they love. From treating patients to studying living matter under a microscope, it is possible to provide bedside care or identify health issues by examining cells, and everything in between. You can practice in a variety of locations too, from small clinics to large hospitals and even specialized care centers.
As healthcare workers are in demand across the country, workers have their pick of job locations. Some healthcare workers also have the option to travel from place to place every few weeks or months, a practice which tends to pay lucratively. If you enjoy exploring new areas and want to see more of the country, a job in healthcare might be a great choice.
Different levels of education required
For many people, the thought of spending years in a classroom is concerning. For others, spending a decade honing their craft might seem like heaven. Whether you want to spend a maximum of a couple of years training for a program or are interested in more complex specialties with up to 13 years of education required, you can find a job in the healthcare industry which will match your preferences.
Opportunities for growth
Another advantage of the healthcare field is that if you attain a degree or certification and want to learn more, you can earn additional degrees. This is a great example of why you should get a DNP in nursing, for example, from an accredited educational institution such as Marymount University. Marymount University offers a variety of online courses, in fact, which makes it easier than ever to study.
As you advance in your career, your pay will increase along with your responsibilities. Many healthcare workers, especially those willing to travel, make an impressive salary while doing what they love. It is also possible to receive funding for further educational courses as you expand your knowledge while practicing too.
Make a difference
Not everyone can say that their job directly benefits people in real time. As a healthcare worker, that’s exactly what your job will mean. Whether you are providing direct care at in-patient hospitals or are working as a technician or specialist elsewhere, your expertise will help thousands of people get the care they need to live healthy, happy lives.
Some professionals, such as accountants and chefs, for example, have rather regular and consistent daily routines. Their work remains the same day after day. The same is not true of all healthcare workers. While it is certainly possible to find more structured careers in the industry, professionals such as nurses can have wildly variable days. Daily rounds might be a consistent part of a day in the life of a nurse, for example, but the people you see, as well as the issues for which they need care, can vary greatly.
Challenges of working in healthcare
Healthcare can be an incredibly fulfilling career path for many people, but it comes with certain drawbacks. We don’t think these outweigh the positives, but it is worth mentioning some of the potential challenges of working in the industry.
If you are looking for short days, you should pick your career path in healthcare carefully. Illnesses, injuries and other medical emergencies do not confine themselves to a strict nine-to-five schedule. Many workers, such as nurses and physicians, work long hours with few breaks. Sometimes these long shifts occur over the weekends and holidays too, which means that those jobs might not be a great pick for people looking for structured work weeks with plenty of downtime.
While helping patients recover and ultimately leave the hospital is incredibly fulfilling, dealing with death is a common part of the job for some healthcare workers. Working directly with patients means that you might have to accept that you cannot help everyone, and sometimes, despite your best efforts, people die. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t positively impacting their lives, however, or that they weren’t grateful for your care and kindness in their last moments.
Some jobs in healthcare are more stressful than others, and that’s a factor you should consider before you decide to pursue a healthcare career. If you are directly responsible for someone’s health, it is normal to feel the weight of responsibility pushing you to make the right choices. Not all healthcare workers shoulder this weight equally, however, and some people are better able to handle it in stride than others. Be honest about your abilities before you decide to work in a particular position.
Are you ready to begin working towards a career in healthcare? This field is one of the most variable, with room for people who love caring for others directly as well as those who prefer to look at how healthcare and businesses align, and everything in between. As long as you are willing to complete the educational requirements and have a strong work ethic, this industry might be a great fit! Keep our tips above in mind as you decide which role in healthcare is the right fit for your skills and abilities, and you will be well on your way to a professional position in no time!
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