Career Pathway: Healthcare

Pathway Overview

Why Healthcare?

  • High demand and low supply
  • Booming field due to aging population and increase in illness
  • Job security
  • Desirable payscale
  • Job satisfaction for those interested in healing profession

The healthcare field encompasses a wide variety of subindustries, such as nursing, public health, as well as specialized professions, such as physician assistants.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

“Employment in healthcare occupations is projected to grow 15 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.4 million new jobs. Healthcare occupations are projected to add more jobs than any of the other occupational groups.”

While job outlook depends on the region and specific role, it’s safe to assume that there is stability and growth opportunity in the healthcare field. Each subfield offers its own pathway; these resources review some of their potential opportunities.

Career Pathways: Nursing

Career Pathways: Speech-Language Pathology

Career Pathways: Public Health

Career Pathways: Physician Assistant

Certifications and Licenses

Note: Below are examples of certifications that exist within the healthcare field. Some may be required for a particular role. For instance, to become a nurse practitioner, you’ll need to complete the requirements associated with that certification. Other certifications may not be required, but some employers may seek them in candidates. 

Registered Nurse (RN)

RNs have either an ASN or BSN in nursing. Patients often see a registered nurse in a hospital or doctor’s office.

Nurse Practitioner (NP)

Nurse practitioners can diagnose injuries and diseases, prescribe medications, and create and initiate treatment plans. A master’s degree in a nursing specialty and RN experience are required. Passing an exam in a specialty is also required.

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

CNMs specialize in family planning, delivering babies, and providing primary care. They must have a master’s degree, RN experience, and pass an exam.

Certified in Public Health (CPH)

A CPH credential demonstrates knowledge of key public health sciences. In order to take the CPH exam, you must be a student or alumni of a program of health accredited by the Council on Education of Public Health (CEPH), or have a bachelor’s degree in a concentration and five years of experience working in public health.

American Physical Therapy Association Specialist Certification (APTA Specialist Certification)

A specialist certification demonstrates knowledge in one of the following areas of physical therapy: cardiovascular and pulmonary, clinical electrophysiology, geriatrics, neurology, oncology, orthopaedics, pediatrics, sports, women’s health, wound management. To take the specialist certification exam, you must hold an unrestricted physical therapy license and have prerequisite clinical experience, either through direct clinical hours as a physical therapist or by completing a clinical residency in a chosen speciality. Exact requirements and hours differ by speciality, but all applicants must sit for the exam which occurs annually in February and March.

Occupational Therapist License (OT License)

OT denotes a licensed occupational therapist by a given state. OTs need to have a master’s degree from an accredited university, complete all necessary fieldwork, and pass the NBCOT Certification Exam.

AMIA (American Medical Informatics Association) Health Informatics Certification (AHIC)

AHIC professionals demonstrate advanced knowledge in health informatics, have a master’s degree in health information or have the prerequisite experience, and have passed the AHIC examination.

Pharmacy License – Varies by State

To obtain a pharmacy license, check for specific requirements in your state. Although many states have additional requirements, at minimum, they require a Pharm.D. degree, a passing grade on the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination® (NAPLEX®), and the completion of a specified number of practical hours.

In-Demand Skills

Ultimately, your ability to land a specific role rests on your experience and educational background, as well as your proficiency in the skills below.

Transferable Skills and Qualities

  • Detail-oriented
  • Critical thinking
  • Collaborative
  • Empathetic
  • Communicative
  • Adaptable
  • Flexibility

Field-Specific Skills

  • Provide high-quality patient care.
  • Assess and monitor area of focus. 
  • Diagnose illness and injury.
  • Develop treatment plans.
  • Collaborate with healthcare team.

Job Fields

Note: This is a basic guide to kick-start exploration, not a complete list of all paths. See specific job descriptions for more details.

Nursing

Click here to see Career Pathways: Nursing 

Public Health

Click here to see Career Pathways: Public Health 

Physician Assistant

Click here to see Career Pathways: Physician Assistant 

Speech-Language Pathology

Click here to see Career Pathways: Speech-Language Pathology 

Healthcare Administration

Administrative healthcare professionals oversee all aspects of a health organization, including budgets, programs, staff, grants, and funding. They may also manage human resources, provide leadership and development, and liaise with community providers. Healthcare administrators focus on the business operations of running an organization. 

Work settings include:

  • Hospitals
  • Local, city, or state health departments
  • Local, state, or federal government agencies
  • Nonprofit organizations

Entry-Level Job Title Examples: Assistant Hospital Administrator, Associate Hospital Administrator, Healthcare Administrator 

Future Roles: Administrative Director, Health Systems Director, Executive Director

Physical Therapy

Physical therapists hold a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and focus on patients’ physical movement to increase mobility and reduce pain. Due to the aging baby boomer generation and medical advancements for injury and trauma patients (lower death rates), the demand for physical therapists is high. An appealing aspect of working as a physical therapist is the ability to develop individual relationships with patients over many weeks or months. 

Work settings include:

  • Long-term residential care centers 
  • Hospitals
  • Private practices
  • Sports teams
  • Schools and universities 

Entry-Level Job Title Examples: Physical Therapist, Physical Therapist – Acute Care, Physical Therapist – Pediatric 

Future Roles: Physical Therapist II, Physical Therapist III, Lead Physical Therapist

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists work with patients who are ill, injured, or have a disability. They create treatment plans and help patients with therapeutic exercises to increase their ability to do everyday tasks. Occupational therapists may also assess a person’s home or workplace to suggest adjustments to make a patient’s daily life easier. 

Work settings include:

  • Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation, nursing, or long-term care facilities 
  • Doctor’s offices 
  • Private practices 

Entry-Level Job Title Examples: Occupational Therapist, Occupational Therapist I

Future Roles: Occupational Therapist II, Occupational Therapy Supervisor

Health Informatics

Healthcare informatics rests at the intersection of technology and healthcare. The field focuses on how to improve patient outcomes by organizing, displaying, and analyzing patient records. Health informatics professionals use technology to improve workflow, communication, collaboration, and data display to improve patient safety and outcomes.  

Work settings include:

  • Hospitals
  • Local, city, or state health departments
  • Local, state, or federal government agencies
  • Healthcare insurance companies  
  • Healthcare technology organizations 

Entry-Level Job Title Examples: Clinical Informatics Analyst, Clinical Informatics Specialist, Informatics Nurse

Future Roles: Senior Health Informatics Consultant, Director of Clinical Informatics 

Pharmacy 

Pharmacists have expert-knowledge of prescription medications. They fill and distribute medications prescribed by eligible clinical healthcare professionals while preventing harmful drug interactions and following federal and state regulations. Pharmacists also educate patients about instructions, dosage, and possible side effects. 

Work settings include:

  • Pharmacies 
  • Hospitals
  • Research labs 
  • Local, state, or federal government agencies
  • Healthcare insurance companies  

Entry-Level Job Title Examples: Clinical Pharmacist, Outpatient Pharmacist, Research Pharmacist, Staff Pharmacist 

Future Roles: Pharmacy Manager, Pharmacy Supervisor 

Employer-Ready

We encourage everyone to become employer-ready, which means having an industry-backed resume and strong online presence (ex: LinkedIn).

Employer-Ready Means…

  • Meeting industry requirements.
  • Creating industry-backed materials.
  • Successfully networking.
  • Demonstrating a commitment to on-going learning.
  • Being proactive with outreach and follow-up strategies.

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