The healthcare industry is one of the largest and fastest-growing industries in the nation. Read on to learn about some possible career choices and see if working in the healthcare industry might be right for you.
The healthcare industry has many career opportunities for workers at all skill levels. Medical records technicians maintain and organize patient information and other medical reports. Doctors diagnose illnesses and determine the best treatments to cure or prevent them. Registered nurses perform administrative tasks, operate medical equipment and help treat patients. Regardless of which occupation you choose, communication skills and a desire to help others are qualities you should have to work in the healthcare industry.
It is important to follow safety procedures if you work in healthcare because this industry had a higher rate of injury than most other industries. Hours vary between occupations. Nurses often work in shifts at hospitals and you may have to work on weekends or holidays. Most medical information technicians worked a typical 40-hour week unless they worked at a 24-hour facility. Doctors sometimes work over 50 hours each week and they must be prepared to make emergency visits with their patients on short notice.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that job growth for many of the occupations in the healthcare industry would be faster than those in any other industry between 2008 and 2018, with jobs such as home healthcare increasing by 50% and doctor's assistants increasing by 39% (www.bls.gov). In 2010, nurses earned a median annual income of $64,690 and general physicians earned $163,510. Workers in hospitals generally earned more than healthcare workers in other sectors. Nurses who worked in nursing homes usually earned less than nurses who worked in other parts of the healthcare industry.
The education and training you need to work in the healthcare industry depends on which career you wish to pursue. Medical records technicians normally have an associate's degree. Many employers prefer technicians who also have the Registered Health Information Technician designation which includes completing an exam in addition to graduating from an accredited school. You can become a nurse with an associate's degree, a bachelor's degree or a diploma. Each education program can lead to different career opportunities, so it is a good idea to explore each option before enrolling in a nursing program. Doctors usually need at least eight years of education beyond high school. After obtaining a bachelor's degree you need to graduate from medical school and complete a residency or internship that lasts at least three years in order to become a doctor.
If you want to work with medical records, an associate's degree in health information might be a good option. You can take courses in healthcare code systems, human anatomy and healthcare reimbursement in an associate's program. A bachelor's degree program in nursing gives you course options such as pediatrics, pharmacology and mental illnesses. If you want to become a physician, you usually have multiple undergraduate degree options such as biology or organic chemistry. Once you are in medical school, you usually begin with a foundation in biology and then build on that knowledge with biomedical sciences and clinical skills. After your first year or two, you usually are able to choose which area you wish to specialize in as a physician.