10 facts you probably didn’t know about working in healthcare

Linda Le Phan

Healthcare is the fastest growing industry and the largest employment sector in the United States, which means careers in healthcare offer the best job outlook for people looking for jobs today. While most people have a pretty good general understanding of what a career in medicine looks like (such as being a nurse, doctor or other common medical profession) there are other really fascinating facts about working in health that might surprise new graduates and others who are unfamiliar with the healthcare industry. Here are 10 facts you probably didn’t know about working in healthcare – note that these facts might not be true for every job in healthcare, but they do ring true for many!: 

The pay is higher than you know.

This is not just an assumption, it’s fact; new government data shows that the highest paying occupations in the US are in healthcare (healthcare jobs take up almost half of the 25 top paying jobs).

Another thing that impacts pay is that it’s common practice in healthcare to issue shift differential pay for nights, weekends, or holidays; extra shift incentive; call and callback pay, etc. While not every organization offers every type of incentive pay, most offer at least a few.

Many healthcare employees only work three days a week.

To be clear, this is not available for every healthcare employee, but it is a reality for many nurses. By working 12-hour shifts – only available in 24-hour industries like healthcare – you may be able to work three days a week and have four days off which might be particularly attractive to people who have the endurance for that type of lifestyle. This doesn’t mean you “only” work 3 days and life is easy, though! Those 3 days are longer and more demanding than other professions with long hours.

It’s one of the most meaningful industries to work in.

OK, so maybe some other people would argue against that, but working in healthcare is incredibly rewarding and provides the opportunity to literally save lives and change lives every day. It’s an easy industry to love and find fulfillment in.

Self-scheduling is a thing.

A number of hospitals and long-term care facilities have moved toward self-scheduling, in which employees follow preset guidelines to make their own schedule. While you still have to ensure all shifts are covered and work with your coworkers to accommodate scheduling conflicts, you still have more flexibility than you might think.

There’s lots of room for advancement.

The awesome thing about healthcare is that you can advance in multiple ways: 1) by advancing your education, 2) by working toward leadership roles, and 3) by advancing your skill set through additional registries or certifications. Most unit leaders were once nurses, med techs, or sonographers themselves before being promoted.

You don’t have to deal with blood.

It’s common to think you have to have a strong stomach to work in healthcare, but there’s a big team of non-clinical staff behind the scenes supporting those who can handle the tough stuff. Human resources, medical records, finance, and IT are great examples of healthcare careers for squeamish people.

You have lots of options.

While burnout is higher than healthcare than in other industries, there’s good news: there are a number of healthcare professions where you don’t need a medical degree or a Bachelor’s degree. In some cases you can even transition into a new role without going back to back to school at all; for example, a nurse can work 10 years in the emergency department and then reinvent herself by transitioning to a career in quality assurance, obstetrics, or long-term care.

You can see the world.

Some healthcare professionals – physicians, nurses, medical technologists, and radiologists, to name a few – can choose to take on traveling assignments and get paid to travel and work in short-staffed facilities.

Student loan repayment is an available perk.

Some states offer student loan forgiveness for employees who dedicate their careers to either healthcare or non-profit work (and many healthcare organizations are not-for-profit), and many hospitals and healthcare organizations offer student loan repayment for hard-to-recruit positions.

Hospital food can be pretty delicious.

This is highly subjective, but since many large clinics and hospitals have coffee shops and cafes on site in order to feed their many employees and patients, there’s a very good chance you can enjoy some solid food on-site as a healthcare worker. There is even a recent movement among hospitals across the U.S to improve their food offerings to be better and more healthy.

 

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