Careers in Healthcare

There are many reasons why healthcare has emerged as one of the top careers choices. To quote data from the U.S. Department of Labor – 10 of the 20 fastest growing occupations belong to healthcare, and most healthcare jobs involve less than four years of college education. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Career Guide to Industries, 2010-11 Edition, Healthcare)

Music to many ears, isn’t it? Let’s face it – college education is not getting any cheaper. If you have to pay through your nose for a decent education, it’s your right to expect results. And the sooner you finish your education, the quicker will be your entry into the workforce.

That’s why some of the sunrise and even classic healthcare careers are so appealing – they don’t require extensive education, they offer exciting work opportunities and growth potential, and they don’t pay poorly at all. And this has led to an increase in the demand for health care degree programs that are fast, focused, and flexible.

Let’s explore some popular careers in healthcare and their academic requirements:

1. Nursing: The American Nursing Association defines nursing as the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations.

It’s clear from the definition that a lot of responsibilities rest on the gentle shoulders of a nurse. She is the one who takes charge of a sick person and helps him on the way to recovery and health once the doctors have done their job.

To become a nurse, the minimum qualification is an Associate’s degree in Nursing or a hospital-administered diploma along with the requisite license from the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Many RNs also enter the profession with a Bachelor’s degree or pursue one after getting some experience under their belt. A Master’s degree is needed to move into the role of an Advanced Practice Nurse or a Nurse Educator and even for management-level nursing positions.

2. Respiratory Therapy: It’s one of the most promising careers in healthcare, offering job security, growth potential, and stimulating work with attractive compensation. Respiratory Therapists diagnose, treat, and care for patients with respiratory and pulmonary disorders.

They perform a large number of important duties that include conducting diagnostic exams, managing ventilators and other devices, and educating patients and their families about respiratory disorders as part of their work routine.

The minimum accepted credential for the role of a Respiratory Therapist is a two-year Associate’s degree in Respiratory Therapy along with certification from the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). A Bachelor’s or graduate degree can help you get more senior roles in the field.

3. Medical Specialties: Medical Specialties is an umbrella term for a number of healthcare careers such as medical assisting, medical coding and billing, physical therapy, laboratory assisting, etc.

The good thing is that you can learn all the disciplines as part of a single degree – an Associate’s degree in medical specialties – and choose one depending on your interest.

Medical specialists, especially pharmacy technicians, medical assistants, lab assistants, etc. are in great demand and enjoy excellent job prospects.

4. Healthcare Administration: Healthcare administrators have the critical job of ensuring that the delivery of healthcare is smooth and patient needs are met. They manage operations in a healthcare unit and, depending on their specialization and scope of work, either lead an entire facility or a particular department within a healthcare unit.

A health care administration degree or education in a related field such as public health, public administration, or business administration is required to become a health services manager.

While you may find mid-level roles as administrative assistants or assistant department heads with a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s degree is a prerequisite for senior managerial roles.

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