You’ve always loved helping people and found an interest in those sluggish science classes. Not to mention the sight of blood doesn’t make you queasy like most of us. Whether you prefer to diagnose, treat, or prevent, it’s obvious a healthcare career is the place for you.
In healthcare, you need others, and they definitely need you. The healthcare industry is in need of qualified professionals with proper education to help our growing population. Roughly 2.3 million jobs are expected to be added to the industry in the next eight years, growing at a rate of 19% through 2024.* There may never be a better time than now to jump into those scrubs.
Sure, if you want to become a neurosurgeon, you may need to devote the next decade of your life to hitting the books. But starting a healthcare career doesn’t always mean years of college classes or piles of student debt. Many courses are available locally or online to help fit with your already busy life. You can spend your days rehabbing athletes as an athletic trainer or keeping smiles bright as a dental assistant. Or maybe you prefer to spend time in the heart of the action as an ER nurse or an EMT. With hundreds of career options with a wide range of median salaries ($21,920 for home health aides to $158,310 for dentists), you’ll be sure to find your niche in the health field.*
There are a shortage of healthcare professionals worldwide. With an overall aging population and the increasing complexity of the healthcare system, technology, and insurance, the time has never been better to be a trained and qualified healthcare professional. If it’s time to start your healthcare career, changing the world for the better. Up, up and away!*Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm
If you’re looking to make an impact on our nation’s health, start with a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree will be your key into entry-level and mid-level positions in healthcare. This degree requires around 120 hours of coursework. For example, you can pursue an administrative-based healthcare degree—think healthcare management, public health, biotechnology, or health information technology. Do you want to work one on one with patients? For careers focused on direct patient care, consider nursing, nutrition science, physician assistant studies, medical imaging, radiation therapy, recreation therapy, or speech-language pathology. If you like the sound of a laboratory-based position, explore programs like clinical laboratory science, microbiology, toxicology, or biomedical technology.
Depending on what you study, a master’s degree can require 30 credits or more beyond the bachelor’s level. You can pursue a graduate education in any of the bachelor’s program options above to enhance your knowledge and career opportunities in those areas. Or dive into a specialty. A master’s degree in nurse anesthesia or occupational therapy for example will give you specified knowledge that prepares you for a niche career. Other specialties include physical therapy, kinesiology, neurobiology, health policy, pharmaceutical sciences, gerontology, pathology, and respiratory care. Willing to dedicate several years to training beyond the bachelor’s level? You might be interested in a professional degree to become a doctor of medicine, pharmacy, audiology, dentistry, chiropractic care, ophthalmology, or veterinary medicine.
As a student in any healthcare program you will need to memorize and get comfortable using medical terminology related to your area of study. Expect to take science courses if you want to work in a lab or with patients. Regardless of your program, you will learn to communicate with patients, families, administrators, and other healthcare providers. You’ll also examine healthcare laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Healthcare professionals are required to practice in accordance with federal and state laws to protect patients’ health and privacy. Students enrolled in clinical-based programs learn to assess patients’ mental and physical needs, assist with or provide treatments, and follow care plans. Meanwhile, future administrators learn to manage office staff, electronic health records, budgets, and programs in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Most academic programs require students to complete practicums or internships in hospitals or clinics. That’s right, hands on experience. Through this fieldwork students will evaluate patients and create care plans under supervision within the bounds of what students are allowed to do by law.