Choosing the Right Career Path
In all economic and career projections throughout the United States, the health care industry always remains on the leading edge of job growth, wage increases, and demand.
With over 14 million jobs expected to increase to 17 million by the year 2016, health care is not only the largest industry in the United States, but it is also the one slated to provide the most new career opportunities. This is good news for anyone interested in the health care field.
Where Can I Work?
Health care is a broad term that encompasses a number of different types of jobs and job sites. Depending on the career path and educational choices you decide upon, you may find yourself working anywhere from a twenty-story hospital to a small, private outpatient care center. Some of the places you might find yourself seeking employment include:
• Nursing Homes
• Residential Care Facilities
• Physician’s Office (these provide over 1/3 of all health care establishments)
• Dentist’s Office (these provide 1 out of every 5 health care establishments)
• Home Health Care
• Specialized Health Care Offices (chiropractors, physical therapists, dietitians, etc.)
• Outpatient Centers
Where you work will decide the types of hours you are offered, the wages you make, and even the health care and vacation benefits available to you. For example, most private offices offer Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 hours with holidays off; working in a hospital typically means round-the-clock rotating shifts and occasionally working on Christmas.
What Should I Do?
You should always take your personal interests and skills into account when choosing a medical career. At the same time, keeping an eye on future growth options is also a great idea if you want to ensure your chances for employment and advancement. Some of the top growing fields include:
Dental Assisting: Dental assistants usually have one year of formal or on-the-job training. They work with dentists in their offices to provide patient care and assist in dental procedures. They may sterilize instruments, prepare patients, take X-rays, make crowns and other implants, assist the dentist during procedures, and help to implement post-operative care.
Health Care Administrator: Health care administrators typically have to have at least a Bachelor Degree in a relevant field as well as the proper certification. They are responsible for overseeing the provision of health care at all types of facilities, including complying with federal and local laws, overseeing the medical staff, handling budgets, purchasing supplies, and preparing reports.
Massage Therapist: Massage therapists are usually trained for at least a year; many states also require certification before a massage therapist can legally operate. Jobs can be found in private offices, hospitals, nursing homes, sports facilities, and even shopping malls. Duties include providing massages to various muscles and body parts to promote circulation and relieve pain or stress. (Visit massageschoolsguide.com for a complete directory of schools and resources)
Medical Assisting: Most medical assistants go through a one- or two-year educational training program, although some offices offer on-the-job training. Most work in the offices of physicians doing either administrative tasks or clinical assisting. They are primarily responsible for keeping the actual office running well, including answering phones, filing patient records, filling out insurance forms, scheduling appointments, billing, and bookkeeping. On a clinical side, they might take medical histories, record vital signs, collect laboratory specimens, and sterilize instruments.
Medical Billing & Coding: Educational or on-the-job training for medical coding typically lasts one to two years. Like medical assistants, medical billers and coders typically work in physician’s and dentist’s office. They are trained to maintain patient records using a formalized coding system as well as handle medical claims and insurance forms.
Medical Imaging: Medical imaging is a large field that includes everything from taking X-rays and CT scans to using MRIs or ultrasound technology. Most workers in the medical imaging field are trained in just one specialization, and training depends on the field and the exact nature of the job. Some programs require only a nine-month or one-year certification, while others require a four-year Bachelor Degree or even higher. Salaries can be very high depending on the amount of training and specialization required.
Medical Transcriptionist: Medical transcriptionists work in hospitals, private offices, and home-based offices. Most have educational training for at least nine months to get a certification. Job duties include listening to recordings made by doctors and other health care professionals. These recordings are then written down into reports, letters, medical histories, and other materials. When they work in an office, medical transcriptionists might also take on administrative duties.
Nursing: Nursing is one of the largest fields available. Training lasts anywhere from two to four years, depending on the degree program. Jobs are offered in hospitals (which have round-the-clock shift options), private physician offices, home health facilities, and nursing homes. Duties range from providing post-operative care and performing diagnostic tests to running clinics and supervision. Most nurses have an area of specialization (such as obstetrics, pediatrics, etc.).
Occupational Therapy: An occupational therapist is a health-care professional responsible for a patient’s rehabilitation into his or her living and working environment. Like physical therapists, they help patients to manipulate their bodies, prosthetics, and even medical technology in a way that promotes healing and mobility.
Pharmacy Technician: Pharmacy techs are typically trained on-the-job, although there are certification options that substantially increase the chances of being hired. Most of the work is offered through retail pharmacies and store chains, and typically includes round-the-clock shift options. The job entails helping pharmacists to dispense medication and other health-related products to customers; administrative tasks and routine store stocking and operations are also fairly common.
Phlebotomist: Phlebotomists are typically trained either on-the-job or through a certification program. They work in hospitals, blood donation centers, or laboratories collecting blood and other bodily fluids.
Physician Assisting – Physician assistants are medical practitioners whose training and duties lie somewhere between that of a doctor and that of a medical assistant.
Respiratory Therapist: Trained medical professionals who work with the respiratory and cardiopulmonary systems of the body. The responsibilities of a respiratory therapist vary depending on where employment is located and what the job category is. In most cases, there are three job levels: respiratory therapists, respiratory therapy technicians, and respiratory care practitioners.
Where is the Current Market Growth?
Although all health care jobs are in growing demand for educated workers, some of them are expected to grow at a faster rate than others. This can have a big impact on which career path you choose to take, since higher demand typically means easier job placement and higher wages (especially since wages in the health care industry are expected to increase 22 percent through 2016, compared to only 11 percent for all other industries).
Overall, jobs in hospitals are the slowest-growing category (at a still high number of 13 percent more jobs over the next eight years). Jobs in home health are the fastest-growing at a whopping 55 percent. Nursing aides, orderlies, nursing attendants, and home health aides will provide the most new jobs. Registered nurses and dental assistants come in at a close second. Some of the additional growth numbers through 2016 include:
• Home Health Aides: 49 percent
• Medical Assistants: 35 percent
• Physical Therapist Assistants: 32 percent
• Physician Assistants: 27 percent
The Health Care Field
The time is right to take advantage of a career field that will not only provide you with ample professional opportunities, but that will also help you to make an impact in this world. Working in health care is rewarding on almost all levels: financially and emotionally. Make the right choice today by pursuing your health care career options.