The healthcare field is a booming career field with millions of people employed annually. Healthcare is something that is part of nearly everyone’s lives, whether it be a pharmacist filling a patient’s prescription, an EMT driving an ambulance after responding to a call, a medical transcriptionist helping a doctor take notes, or a medical insurer providing health insurance to consumers. If you’re someone who has ever been interested in going into healthcare, here’s an easy comprehensive guide to walk you through the ins and outs of the healthcare field.
What is the Healthcare Field?
In order to define what the healthcare field is, we first need to establish what healthcare itself is. Put simply, healthcare is the act of taking necessary or preventative medical procedures in order to improve a person’s well-being. This can be anything from seeing your doctor for a checkup to getting complex surgery done. With that in mind, the healthcare field can be defined as the field for those professionals who administer healthcare to patients that is preventative, rehabilitative, curative or promotional.
Reasons Why Going Into Healthcare is a Good Career Choice
At some point in time, you or someone you know has probably considered going into a healthcare related career. Even so, you may be wondering why the healthcare field is a thriving field to go into. Here are some reasons you should consider going into healthcare:
Awesome Job Prospects
The healthcare field has great job prospects, and is only continuing to grow! According to verywellmind.com and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the healthcare profession is expected to grow by a whopping 2.4 million jobs from 2016-2026. To drive this home even more, eight out of the top twenty fastest growing professions happen to be in the healthcare field. The great benefit of this is that there’s more opportunity to find a stable job after your education.
Additionally, Americans as a whole are aging. But what does that have to do with job prospects? According to George Washington University, the United States is going to see a 50% (yes, you read that correctly) shift in age demographics between 2000 and 2030. Approximately 72 million Americans will be over the age of 65 in 2030, which means approximately 72 million Americans will be needing more healthcare for longer periods of time. This is driving up the job prospects for the healthcare field even further.
Positions for All Education Levels
Got a high school diploma or GED? Associate’s Degree? Bachelor’s Degree? Then you can find a job in healthcare. Careers like pharmacy technicians, emergency medical technicians, certified nursing assistants and patient coordinators only need a high school diploma or GED to get started, where careers like physical therapists, psychologists, neurosurgeons and dentists require much more extensive schooling.
For a list of 50 healthcare careers with all different education requirements and backgrounds, check out this list.
Additionally, if you’re in the market to start or continue your education, make sure to check out College Overview’s college search engine. You can find reputable schools tailored to you by state, program, and school type!
As expected, the more experience and education you have in the healthcare field, the more earning potential you have. However, regardless of your education and experience level, the healthcare field boasts some of the top earning careers out there. The high demand for healthcare workers also drives the pay up, creating a field with great earning potential and competitive pay. According to monster.com, physicians, surgeons and dentists top the list of the highest earners in the healthcare industry. Naturally, these professions require extensive education and training. On the flip side, according to careertrend.com, nursing aides, dietary aides and activity aides are some of the lowest paying fields in healthcare. These professions have some of the least amount of education requirements.
High Job Satisfaction
When you spend day in and day out contributing to helping others, it’s no doubt that your job satisfaction is going to be high. Those who work in healthcare are said to have great job satisfaction as they’re able to assist others and make a living at the same time! Things like variety in tasks, good pay and benefits, and feeling needed also contribute to the job satisfaction brought about in the healthcare field.
Opportunities for Advancement
Although some advancement may require additional education or certification, there seems to always be room for advancement in the healthcare field. Take Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), for example. EMTs, once certified, can take additional certifications to become Advanced EMTs, and then Paramedics if they wish. That’s not where the advancement stops either; according to healthcarepathway.com, top-tier Paramedics can work their way to become supervisors, operations managers, instructors, and a number of other positions.
Divisions of the Healthcare Industry
So, as you may have noticed, the healthcare industry is pretty expansive. With a field that includes anything from a phlebotomist to a medical insurer, it was important to divide the healthcare industry into different sectors. Knowing the different sectors of the healthcare industry can also help you narrow down what career you might be interested in pursuing. These are the different sectors of the healthcare industry:
Healthcare Services and Facilities
This broad sector can actually be divided even further. Healthcare services and facilities include hospitals, nursing and care facilities, ambulatory health services, healthcare professionals and medical practitioners.
The pharmaceutical industry produces and markets drugs to be used as medications. This sector of healthcare can include any type of pharmaceutical, including prescription drugs, over the counter medicines, vitamins and supplements, and even contacts and eyeglasses.
Medical Devices and Equipment Manufacturers
Ever wonder where medical equipment like hospital beds or IV’s come from? Medical companies in this sector of healthcare provide medical equipment, devices and hospital supplies to the healthcare industry.
Medical Insurance and Managed Care
This division of healthcare includes medical insurance providers or companies that provide services to facilities and patients to improve the quality of care and reduce the cost of healthcare.
In-Demand Healthcare Professions
Entering into a field with high demand careers is obviously pretty great. However, there are some careers that are more in-demand than others, and they’re worth looking into! Let’s check out an overview of the careers in healthcare that are in high demand, according to verywellhealth.com.
Home Health Aides
What They Do
Home health aides, also known as personal care aides, assist in the daily living activities of those who may be disabled, cognitively impaired, or chronically ill. They perform a variety of tasks such as housekeeping, organizing the client’s schedule, assisting the client with everyday living tasks, and shopping for groceries.
What They Make
Home health aides have a median annual wage of about $23,210, with the highest earners working in nursing facilities.
To become a home health aide, you’ll typically need to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Training is done on the job or through specialized programs.
The career of home health aides is projected to grow about 41% from 2016 to 2026. This is much faster than other occupations, even in the healthcare field!
What They Do
Medical assistants work in facilities like hospitals, in the offices of physicians, or other medical facilities. They have a variety of tasks depending on where they work, but some of their main duties include taking patient vital signs, helping physicians with patient examinations, keeping patient records up to date, and preparing blood samples for lab testing.
What They Make
In May 2017, the median annual wage for medical assistants was $32,480. The highest earners worked in outpatient care facilities, followed closely by those that worked in state, local and private hospitals.
Those aspiring to become medical assistants must first have a high school diploma or GED. Programs for medical assisting can be at community colleges, vocational and technical schools, and universities. They take about one year to complete in most places, and two years in some cases; they may lead to a certification or Associate’s degree. Some medical assistants earn their high school diploma or GED and then become trained on the job, but this depends on the place of work.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the career of medical assistant is expected to grow about 29% from 2016 to 2026, pushing it to a close second behind home health aides for most in-demand healthcare careers.
What They Do
Registered nurses typically work as part of a team that includes physicians and other healthcare professionals. There are a lot of different job duties registered nurses can have, especially considering registered nurses can work in different environments and with different patients. There are some core duties most nurses perform, though. These are things like assessing the conditions of patients, administering medications and treatments to patients, operating medical equipment, collaborating for care with physicians and other healthcare professionals, and recording the symptoms and treatments of patients.
What They Make
The median annual wage for registered nurses was approximately $70,000 as of May 2017. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses working in government institutions made around $75,900 annually, closely followed by registered nurses working in hospitals at the local, state or private level.
In order to become a Registered Nurse, it typically takes about 4 years at an accredited institution and a Bachelor’s degree. In nursing education programs, students complete credits in courses such as physiology, anatomy, nutrition, psychology, microbiology, chemistry, and social sciences. There are other educational paths to becoming a registered nurse, such as 2-3 year programs and diplomas, but they are much more sparse. In most settings, employers require registered nurses to have a Bachelor’s degree.
In addition to completing educational programs, registered nurses are also required to have a nursing license in all 50 states. Registered nurses must pass the National Council Licensure Examination, or the NCLEX-RN for short. They may also be required to complete a background check and additional certifications depending on the state and place of work.
From 2016 to 2026, employment for registered nurses is projected to grow 15%, which is still faster than the average of all occupations as a whole.
Physicians and Surgeons
What They Do
On a general level, physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat a number of health conditions like injuries or illnesses. They have an array of tasks, like examining patients, evaluating medical histories of patients, performing and interpreting diagnostic tests, and prescribing medications. In addition, surgeons will actually perform operations on patients to treat diseases and injuries.
There are two types of physicians: those who have Medical Doctor degrees (M.D.) and those that have Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degrees (D.O.). Surgeons typically specialize in a certain field. Both physicians and surgeons may specialize in certain fields to become dermatologists, ophthalmologists, cardiologists, gastroenterologists, and others.
What They Make
As mentioned previously, physicians and surgeons are among the highest earning professionals in the healthcare field. The median wage of physicians and surgeons is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the career category of physicians and surgeons, anesthesiologists make the most per year with an average annual wage of $265,990 per year. General pediatricians make the least per year with an average of $187,540 per year.
Physicians and surgeons have demanding careers that have demanding education requirements. Becoming a physician or surgeon can be a great, rewarding career, but those seeking to become physicians or surgeons can expect to put in 8-12 or more years of education.
Physicians and surgeons must go to medical school. Most applicants to medical school have a Bachelor’s degree or a more advanced degree. You won’t be able to get into medical school with just a degree, though; medical schools are extremely competitive and take into consideration other factors such as MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) scores, the applicant’s transcripts, and even the applicant’s personality and involvement in extracurricular activities. Medical school takes about 4 years to complete, and if students wish to specialize in a certain field, they can expect to complete a residency or internship for an additional 3 to 7 years.
Physicians and surgeons must be licensed; they can obtain licensure by completing the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) if they are M.D.’s, and the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA) if they are D.O.’s.
The employment rate of physicians and surgeons is projected to grow at a rate of 13% from 2016-2026. Job prospects are typically very good for those who choose to practice in areas that are rural and/or low-income.
Ready to Go into the Healthcare Field?
Think you’re ready to go into healthcare as a career? Great choice! Remember, if you’re going into the healthcare field or considering going into the healthcare field, knowing what you’re committing to is especially important. As with any field or industry, you’ll want to know what the field itself is, why it’s a good field to go into, and the details of the professions within the field.
Make sure you consider these things when thinking of going into the healthcare field:
- What the healthcare field actually is
- Reasons why the healthcare field is good to go into
- The divisions of the healthcare industry
- In-demand professions in healthcare
- The aspects of the in-demand professions in healthcare
Luckily, the healthcare field is far-reaching with plenty of job opportunities and room for growth, and information is readily available and easily accessible. Using it to your advantage will be helpful in any healthcare career!