What choices do I have for a career in healthcare?
From nursing to neuroscience, the healthcare industry is swelling at an almost frightening pace. This is largely accredited to the baby boomer generation creeping towards an average age of 65, along with medical advancements and improvements in education. As a result, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a 3.2 million job increase in healthcare from 2008 to 2018, an unprecedented 22 percent growth that surpasses that of every other industry combined. For students or prospective students considering a position in healthcare, this explosive trend has created an immaculately fertile environment to enter into with literally hundreds of options.
Public Health Careers
The striking number of career options within the arena of public health is an apt reflection of the entire industry’s growth. The professionals in this field apply their background in environmental health, epidemiology, biostatistics, nutrition, and dozens of other specialties that they can choose from to effect positive changes in every aspect of healthcare for large populations of people. Best described as a mixture of medical anthropology and conventional medicine, public health professionals rely just as much on their ability to predict the effects of socially implemented healthcare actions as they do on their command of the scientific research that informs their actions. This vein of healthcare offers immense gratification as well as potential salaries of 150,000 a year and up.
Much like the next career option, public health professionals usually acquire a B.S. in the abovementioned core sciences followed by graduate work in their specializations.
Business-minded individuals who are also drawn to the philanthropy of medicine are not in want of options for healthcare careers either. Healthcare administration, in fact, offers the challenge of an all-encompassing management position with the gratification of a career in healthcare. Healthcare administrators facilitate every aspect of their health care facility’s needs, including supply chain management, personnel management, corporate structuring, and many more, as Healthcarecareers.org details in depth. Today’s healthcare administrators especially must be nimble enough to keep current on the industry’s rapid developments and knowledgeable enough to implement them to better their facilities.
As it concerns the educational standards for this promising career, a master’s degree in health administration or a closely related field is almost required for a position in healthcare administration. Annual salaries for this career range from 27,000 to over 150,000 depending on management ranking.
Long hailed as “the” career in medicine, the benefits of practicing as a medical doctor have only improved with the healthcare industry’s recent boom. Doctors assess, educate, and heal people by using their mastery of medicine in accordance with today’s biomedical paradigm to treat diseases, administer medication, advise patients, and more. The American Medical Association has ample resources on their website to educate potential doctors as well as provide resources for those currently practicing. While earning the coveted M.D or doctor of medicine degree, future doctors are encouraged to hone their specialties in osteopathic care, family care, and treating one or a few diseases. The healthcare industry needs this variation of interests to employ family and general practitioners, osteopathic professionals, and an infinite number of specialists.
Nurses work with patients directly and indirectly to administer bedside care, treatments, monitor vitals, or even manage other nurses. Although nurses have always been highly regarded across the world, nursing especially has seen a dramatic spike in demand and the resulting improvements in overall outlook. With over 5 and a half million nurses in the US and still in shortage, burgeoning nurses are welcomed to the thirsting career field with a slew of benefits.
To prepare for what is sure to be a promising career, nursing students now have a myriad of accelerated programs at their disposal, many available online, so that they can nurture their flare for long-term care, neuroscience, pediatrics, nursing administration, and the list goes on. The American Nurses Association offers ample resources for prospective nurses looking to build up their skills, experience, and credentials before entering nursing.
Physical and Occupational Therapy
Physical and occupational therapists rehabilitate patients who are either recovering from injuries, surgery, or trying to avoid both. They evaluate injuries, set up rehab exercise regiments, and supervise the use of therapeutic modalities such as ice and heat treatments, electronic stimulation, ultrasound, traction therapy, and iontophoresis. As a therapist, a firm command of human anatomy, biomechanics, and physics are required to progress injured patients from range of motion, to strength, to recovery.
Depending on specialization, full-time physical therapists earn salaries that range from $50,000 to $80,000 a year. Physical therapy assistants, who enjoy one less year of school and fewer reams of paperwork, make $37,000 to $60,000 a year. As a frequent first and last point of contact for recovering patients, every nook in the therapy industry will grow exponentially over the next few decades.
Both a viable career option and an opportunity to gain experience with clinical laboratory work while going to school, becoming a laboratory technician offers an impeccable job outlook. Also known as medical technicians, lab techs work under the supervision of epidemiologists, biologists, and various other medical researchers to conduct research, run tests, diagnose and treat patients. The typical setting is a hospital laboratory, although there are other freestanding laboratories that contract themselves to hospitals.
Preparation for this career, while the only rigid requirement is a high school diploma, is best completed with any National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory or NAACLS approved program. These 2-year programs are available at hundreds of colleges and universities. The median salary for this position is just under $31,000 a year.
The healthcare industry is exploding with a 56 percent increase in home health aides, 52 percent increase in medical assistants, and 44 percent increase in physical therapy assistants. With such growing potential, the main question is more about which career to choose than the level of job security. After finding a niche and putting in the hard work at school, a career in healthcare will repay the investment more than ten times over.