The Expanding World of Healthcare: Should You Get on This Train?

US Consul Tim Cipullo with Vincent Henderson (Hospital Health Administrator) & Carlynn Halcrowe (Hospital Nurse-in-Charge) at the Norway House hospital emergency room

From healthcare IT to Physician Assistance, the healthcare industry is experiencing a demand like never before. The U.S. Bureau of Labor predicts that by 2018 the demand for healthcare jobs will increase more than 20 percent. It’s a career field that isn’t losing steam any time soon. Whether you want to work giving care to patients or behind the scenes as a manager, here’s what it takes to get into the health field and to succeed there.

Technical Ability

Successful nurses and physician assistants need to have the proper college degree that pertains to each field. It doesn’t hurt to specialize too. You can find certificate programs that will put you ahead of your peers who only have a general degree. Successful health administrators should have a comprehensive understanding of healthcare and business management. In many ways, they need to know about two fields rather than one. On top of their knowledge of the business and computer fields, they’ll also need a strong understanding of technology and computer software. The health administrator is a jack and master of many trades.

Personality

Healthcare employers are getting more and more interested not just healthcare, but also patient satisfaction. Nurses, doctors, and medical assistants all need to focus in on bedside manner as the competition for healthcare positions heightens. On top of the multiple skills needed to be a health administrator, you’ll also need to be a people person. Administrators will be dealing with employees and patients and will need to often break bad news to people who won’t be happy with the policies you have to enforce. You can’t be a person who has to have all people like them all the time, however, because you’ll often have to be the ‘bad guy’ when it comes to enforcing rules. You’ll also have to have a strong work ethic as health administrators are often required to travel and work late hours.

Education

Becoming an expert in the healthcare industry doesn’t happen without some serious education. Very few healthcare jobs require a bachelor’s degree only. Nurses can practice with a bachelor’s degree, but to be competitive in large city hospitals, they need to consider an advanced degree. Most health administration jobs require an advanced degree such a master’s of health administration. Job applicants with a bachelor’s degree may become a health administrator at a small hospital, but if they want a job at a large urban hospital, they’re going to need a master’s degree. Beyond degrees, a health administrator may need to complete a training program, pass a licensing exam and fulfill continuing education requirements according to the industry standards. You may also need to take computer classes to make sure that you’re up on the latest healthcare technology.

Healthcare is a field that doesn’t seem to be affected by recession. The highest paying medical jobs are in the private sector, though income also depends on area, experience and education. Whether you want to help manage a hospital or take part in patient care, there’s probably a place for you as a medical employee if you’re willing to work for it.

Lewis West is a blogger for higher education sites. If the health care system sounds like an interesting career change, several schools offer degree programs, such as Ohio University and Washington University.

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