Starting a Career in Healthcare

By Jennifer Noble | Apr 16, 2018

It’s never too late to start a career in healthcare. Sure, it might be impractical to set on a road to becoming a surgeon in your fifties. But the healthcare industry is so large, with so many different professions united in the common goal of helping people that there’s bound to be room for you somewhere in there.

Starting a career in healthcare is also a solid choice because it’s the closest thing you can have to a guaranteed employment. There are different forces that influence the supply and demand of healthcare professionals in the United States, but their combined impact is obvious. We are having a hard time filling the ranks of healthcare professions to the level we need. And as the population is growing older, we will need even more. So let’s see what you need to start your career in healthcare.

Understanding the Types of Careers

Healthcare professions can be divided into four different types. Practitioner professions are professions of the people you commonly refer to as doctors, surgeons, or dentists. They are the people with the most advanced medical knowledge and training, and they often choose to specialize in specific areas. Allied healthcare professions are the professions that provide support roles to practitioners with a degree of autonomy. Medical assistants and EMTs are allied healthcare professionals. Nurses are also sometimes found in this group, although they might also be classified as practitioners.

Supportive healthcare professions are the professions that provide crucial support to practitioners and allied professions. They are the aids and assistants who work under the wing of doctors and therapists. And finally, managerial professions are the professions that don’t work with patients directly but are indispensable for the proper working of the healthcare system. Administrators and service managers are healthcare managerial professions.

Looking Up Career Requirements and Duties

Every healthcare profession has a set of requirements you have to fill in order to be able to work in it. It also has a set of duties you need to understand before making a decision. If you want to be a cardiac surgeon, for example, you will first have to spend around eight years on finishing grad school and then med school. After that, you will have to go through a five-year residency and spend another couple of years in a fellowship. So that’s fifteen years of your life spent of training if you want to operate on someone’s heart.

Other medical professions are much easier to get into. Medical assistants, for example, used to be hired with no previous experience or education. Today, they need to spend up to two years on education before being certified. Luckily, they have the option to take online medical assistant programs, which is something surgeons could never do. Still, it’s important that you know how much time you will have to commit to getting your certification before you make a choice. Make sure you also understand what are the duties you will be required to perform in each profession.

Researching Career Outlooks

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website does an excellent job at listing all the medical professions, along with their requirements, salaries, and career outlooks. It should be an important resource in the research of your desired occupation.

Even though medical occupations are generally in demand, you should also investigate the jobs that are offered in your area. If you don’t plan to move for your new career, you will need to know what types of positions you can get. You will also need to look at schools and colleges that offer certification courses. If you need to move to attend one, research the job market in your new place of residence. After you have done all of this, you are ready to make your first step in a healthcare career — enroll in an appropriate school or college.


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