Health Care Careers - Industry Overview
By Colleen M. Sauber
Career choices in health care are incredibly varied, and anyone considering this field has a wonderful array of positions to select from. But so many jobs can make it tough to decide which position best matches your interests and aptitude. What to do?
Consider your goals and interests. Think about what you want to do, what you're good at and, importantly, what you want to learn about.
Many health care positions serve patients directly, working with individuals, their illness or problem and their family. Yet, taking a job in health care does not automatically mean that you will work one on one with sick people or that you must be able to stand the sight of blood.
Take, for example, the position of clinical laboratory technician or medical records specialist. Much of their work occurs away from the patient. Once a blood sample is taken, it travels to the lab where the technician analyzes it and reports the results. Once a patient or health care worker supplies information for a medical record, the rest is processed in an office setting.
But if you enjoy talking with people and feel energized by helping someone directly-say, applying a cast, giving medication or teaching how to best manage diabetes and diet-a lab position might not be to your liking. Person-to-person contact may top your list for what's important in your career, and health care jobs present many fulfilling possibilities.
Because health care is so diverse, colleges and universities often divide their programs into individual schools. These include schools of medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, public health, veterinary medicine, and science and engineering. Expertise in biomedicine and health sciences might be combined with computer science and electrical engineering.
There may also be programs specifically geared to the business side of health care, such as hospital administration and human resources. Others may focus on what is called allied health care, which refers to positions that assist doctors and other health specialists and require far fewer years of education.
Titles in allied health careers often contain the terms technician, technologist, assistant, hygienist, and aide. Although these positions are part of one career group, the schooling, responsibilities and salary among them can be very different.
For example, a high school diploma is needed to become a dental assistant; completion of a technical program is required to become a medical laboratory technician; a two-year associate degree is needed to become a forensic science technician; and a bachelor's degree is a must for a medical technologist.
Whatever schooling you need, financial assistance is a very real possibility. Individual schools and programs can help determine what funds are available....
No skill becomes stale or stays the same in health care! New research findings, technologies and understanding all adds fresh and ever-changing dimensions.
Whichever career catches your attention-one that requires a minimum of a high school diploma, a two-year certification, or a college or advanced degree-your training and your potential for advancement will never stop. Even after you're hired, many positions require a renewable license, certificate or registration. It may mean taking a regular technical or college class, attending seminars, or learning to operate the latest equipment.
But if you're looking for challenge and variety, if you want to feel good about what you do each day and to know that your work makes a difference, you can accomplish all that and more in health care.