A combination of improvements in health care and aging populations around the world is driving the need for more and more health care employees. This high demand for staff is leading a lot of people to consider entering the health sector as care providers of all sorts. Job security and the opportunity to help people when they are most in need are big motivating factors. Here are some of the reasons why you should consider a career in the health sector.
Motivations for becoming a health care professional
When deciding which career to follow, the amount you are paid and job security are usually prime considerations. The health sector can pay very well at all levels of education and experience, and the high demand for health care workers is not going to fall any time soon. As with any career, you may need to change employers on occasion, but it is highly likely that your role will continue to see high demand in the long run.
Employers in the health sector also tend to offer very good benefits to their employees, including pension contributions and significant free training benefits. It is this opportunity to build on existing skills while your employer pays that is a particularly lucrative benefit of working in health care. Skills built in health care positions are also very portable: if you are qualified in a particular field, you can usually work anywhere in the world, as long as you pass one or two qualifying exams.
Different roles in the medical industry
There is an incredibly wide range of roles in the health sector. The many different roles allow you to pick a position that really suits you, depending on your desire to spend many years in formal education and your views on a work-life balance. Doctors and specialists are highly paid but work long hours and spend many years studying. Nurses also undergo formal study but spend less time doing so, and their lower pay is reflected in more of a choice in working hours.
If many years of formal studying is not ideal for you, a career in caring can still pay well, while you could opt for a more academic route with less patient contact by going into medical research after doing a degree program. Whichever path you choose, you will have to complete some formal education – health care is a complex and highly regulated area, and few positions are available to workers who have absolutely no education in the field.
Training required for health sector jobs
Your choice of career in the health sector will determine what educational requirements you need to fulfill. In the US, a doctor needs to complete a four-year undergraduate degree, followed by four years of full-time study in a medical school. To qualify, a prospective doctor then needs to complete a period of residency in a hospital, which is a minimum of three years. On the other hand, you can become a qualified nursing practitioner in six to eight years.
If you are already a health care professional, you could opt to enhance your career choices by taking on additional training. For example, an experienced nurse could opt to enroll in a DNP degree, which would enhance their understanding of care on every level, from patients through to the community. Qualified dentists can also take additional courses to improve their ability to deliver care and to better perform specialized procedures such as root canals.
It is not uncommon for individuals working outside of health care who have, for example, extensive management experience, to go on courses that assist them in adjusting to a management career in health care. Though such a move would limit your direct exposure to patient care, you would still be able to contribute to a system that is responsible for the health of your fellow citizens.
Consider your own skills and strengths
The variety of health care sector jobs means that there is a role suited to every type of personality. If you are a very caring individual interested in understanding the problems of others, you should think about going into a counselling role as a therapist or a qualified psychiatrist. If you are more analytical in nature, think about going into a research or laboratory-based role where you can look closely at important medical and diagnostic issues.
Whichever role you choose, think about what the long-term career path involves. Career development is one of the key benefits of health sector jobs, and your approach to career development will have a big impact on your long-term earning potential and job satisfaction.