What is Healthcare?

From early medical practices, health care has evolved and continues to develop rapidly with the discoveries of new drugs, treatments, and cures. Modern technologies, such as computers and virtual reality, are used by the medical community to perform tests, compile data, diagnose illnesses, and train professionals. Many surgeries are no longer performed with a scalpel, but with lasers. Disease, illness, and injury are now being treated and cured so successfully that the general population is living much longer and the number of elderly is increasing. The field of genetics is one area being researched by scientists with promising results.

The structure of the health care industry offers a wide variety of jobs to choose from and many different facilities in which to work, once the job is chosen. Health care providers are employed as physicians, nurses, nursing aides, technicians, technologists, therapists, and medical researchers, to name just a few. They are employed in settings that include private offices, hospitals, clinics, managed-care facilities, nursing homes, research facilities, and private homes.

Careers in Health Care

Healthcare needs business-focused professionals with strong backgrounds in marketing, operations, finance, accounting, management, and strategy. From hospitals to insurance C-suites, startups to government agencies, and even in specialized consulting firms, the demand for MBA-holders is sweeping.

“When you think of healthcare before you're in healthcare, you might think it's just doctors and patients, but there are so many other players. I get to work cross-functionally with sales, regulatory affairs, researchers and developers, and so many more to drive success for my company, ” says Hubka. “No two days are alike, and getting an MBA was essential to prepare me for this job.”

Candidates educated in the sciences will have even more opportunities available to them. This isn't just because of the complex nature of industry challenges, products, and services—the teams and decision-makers in this field are highly educated and well versed in their areas of expertise.

Experts switching from a previous career to one more driven by business and strategic decisions will have the advantage of skipping over the steep learning curve that even experienced business professionals encounter upon entering healthcare. A person with a background in machine learning will be able to step into the population health discussion with a broad understanding of advanced data analytics applications that many healthcare natives are only now working to acquire.

Healthcare Industry Outlook

According to U.S. government projections, employment of health care practitioners is projected to increase 14 percent through 2028, adding about 1.9 million new jobs. The U.S. Department of Labor also says that many of the fastest growing occupations are concentrated in the health care industry. By 2028, employment of home health aides is expected to grow by 37 percent, personal care aides by 36 percent, physical therapist assistants and aides by 26 percent, medical assistants by 23 percent, and medical and health service managers by 18 percent. Employment of medical secretaries will grow by 16 percent. There may be a general perception that careers in health care require advanced education; however, most jobs require less than four years of college.

Employment growth for physicians is expected to be faster than average, at 7 percent. More doctors will be needed because the population is both growing and aging and because government legislation may help millions in the United States obtain health insurance. Also, many new technological improvements require the expertise of greater numbers of medical specialists. However, the need for primary care providers will be far greater than the need for medical specialists. Job prospects will be best for those working as nursing aides, home health aides, orderlies and attendants, and pharmacy technicians. As the population continues to age, opportunities in gerontology, home health care, and nursing and residential care will increase due to families being less able to care for elderly relatives.

Since managed-care programs are growing because of their cost efficiency, employment opportunities in hospitals are expected to decline, especially in administrative and support jobs. Some observers expect that consolidations and closings will reduce the number of community hospitals by as much as 10 percent. Remaining hospitals are likely to cut costs, reduce staff, curb the use of advanced technologies, encourage outpatient care, and reduce paperwork. In the next decade, most health care workers will be employed in some kind of corporate, group, or network environment.

One of the fastest growing job categories in the industry is home health care. Home health care workers include nurses, physical therapists, and consultants, as well as lower paid workers who cook, clean, bathe, and dress homebound patients, such as the elderly and disabled.

Opportunities are excellent for nurse practitioners and physician assistants, too. They will begin to assume many of the functions of primary care physicians in the next few years, including taking patient histories and making preliminary diagnoses. Nurse practitioners are in very high demand, with 28 percent employment growth projected between 2018 and 2028. Physician assistants will experience even stronger growth (31 percent) during the same timeframe.

The employment outlook for all kinds of nurses is very favorable. Many hospitals don't have enough nurses; the demand is bigger than the supply. Also, as health care services expand, even more nurses will be needed. The U.S. Department of Labor included nurses on its list of the fastest growing occupations through 2028, forecasting employment growth of 12 percent.

The employment outlook for physical therapists is also excellent through 2028, at 22 percent. Occupational and physical therapy are expected to remain among the top growth careers in the United States. Other health care jobs with a promising outlook include dental assistants and hygienists, cardiovascular technologists, emergency medical technicians, and respiratory therapists.

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