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Three Essential Steps If You Plan to Seek a Job in Healthcare

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The pandemic has put a strain on the healthcare profession, increasing the need for more trained professionals in a variety of occupations. In fact, the Occupational Outlook Handbook indicates a projected growth of 15% in healthcare occupations from 2019-2029. This projected growth is faster than all other occupations combined and will lead to an estimated 2.4 million new jobs in healthcare.

Learn more about our B.S. in nursing at American Public University.

Proper Career Planning for the Healthcare Field

In the Career Services Department, I work with many students pursuing healthcare careers. But with the growing qualifications required for healthcare professionals comes the need for proper career planning.

Students who express a preference for jobs in this field are typically interested in working in patient-focused areas like nursing, physical therapy, paramedics and radiology. These career fields are very specialized and require a specific degree path, often including clinical hours, hands-on training and possibly a state license. Because of the need for specialized knowledge, those pursuing a career in healthcare need to consider these three steps in their career planning.

Step 1: Identify and Research the Specific Healthcare Field You Want to Pursue

O*NET OnLine lists over 400 job titles under the healthcare heading on its website. There are many options to research, which means that taking the time to identify and research all possibilities is essential. When reviewing descriptions, be sure to:

  • Research the necessary skills for different types of roles and reflect on your ability to learn those skills.
  • Think about the type of patients you would like to serve, such as children, the elderly or veterans.
  • Consider different healthcare environments. Determine which type of work environment is suitable, such as an emergency room, general practice clinic, in-home hospice care, or a labor and delivery room.

In addition to these factors, researching each position in detail enables you to understand the requirements needed to support that role. You can also learn more about the industry, trends within the field and salary information. Consider using the following resources during your research:

In addition to these career resources, look for professional association websites. These sites are excellent for learning more information about a specific discipline.

For example, the American Physical Therapy Association and the American Nurses Association, which links to state-level associations, provide information on the physical therapy and nursing career fields. They also include links to other resources and discuss relevant industry trends and topics of interest. Narrowing down your options through careful research will assist you in identifying the right path to fit your goals.

Step 2: Research the Education and License Requirements Required for Your Chosen Field

Each healthcare occupation requires a specific program or certification. Many occupations, such as nursing, also need a state license.

For this step, utilize the same resources that helped you develop your preferred goals. Those resources will also help you explore the specific licensure and education requirements for that field.

Once you identify the education requirements for your chosen occupation, research education options in your area. Review each school and program to make sure it meets the specific requirements for your career field. Be sure to review admissions requirements, required coursework, internship or clinical requirements, and any examination requirements that you will need to complete.

Think about each step in the education process and what you will need to successfully complete these steps. Consider the required time commitment, specific courses and financial obligations, as well as how to balance your education with work or family responsibilities.

Step 3: Consider Pursuing an Associate or Certificate Program

APU offers several associate degrees and undergraduate certificates to help you with the initial steps in your career journey.

The undergraduate certificate in pre-health is designed for students wishing to explore an overview of the healthcare industry. It includes a math course and several science and lab courses common in healthcare programs, such as biology, chemistry, and anatomy and physiology.

The associate of applied science in health sciences is another introductory program that allows students to further explore the healthcare field. It includes core general education classes as well as many of the common science and lab courses required in healthcare programs, such as biology, chemistry, physics, anatomy and physiology, and genetics.

The associate of science in public health is designed for students looking to learn more about healthcare fields that correlate with community health education or occupational health and safety; they can take advantage of the coursework and relevant resources found within this program. Topics include moral issues in healthcare, public health in America, and health promotion and disease prevention.

The associate of arts in general studies offers students an opportunity to complete their general education courses and then select 10 lower-level undergraduate courses of their choice. This degree allows students to dive into specific science or health-related courses to start. Many students then choose to transfer what they learned to a specific healthcare program as they continue their education.

Utilize University Resources

As with any degree program, make sure you connect with a member of the Academic Advising Team to discuss academic programs and specific courses in more detail. Additionally, researching other institutions and their transfer credit policies is helpful in understanding how any courses or completed degree at the university will transfer into another program or institution.

With so many steps and considerations to navigate in the healthcare discipline, it can be helpful to work with an industry-aligned career coach at APU. Contact us today, so we can help you explore your options in more detail and develop a personalized plan to empower you to reach your goals.

Anna Sommer began her career at APU in 2007. She has worked in the Academic Advising Department and Student Services Department, and now currently works as a Career Exploration Specialist in the Career Services Department. She thrives when working with students and alumni on career planning, researching industry trends, and developing career exploration resources. Anna holds a B.A. in English from Minnesota State University Moorhead, an M.S. in Adult Education from Kansas State University and an MFA in Writing from Lindenwood University.

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