If the past two years of the pandemic have taught us anything, it’s that public health is one of the most important and influential fields in the world. It’s no wonder that so many people seek to enter the healthcare industry each year. Employing millions of people around the globe, the healthcare profession has dozens of entry points – from studying full-time to becoming a doctor or nurse, all the way through to administrators, cleaners, and orderlies. If you’re interested in joining the healthcare profession, no matter what your age or experience, this is the guide for you.
It’s first important to outline exactly what you should expect from the healthcare industry – so that you know what you’re letting yourself in for. Of course, different jobs have different stresses. If you work on a ward, you’ll likely work long hours, sometimes through the night or on weekends, in order to keep patients safe. If you’re a back-office worker processing healthcare data, then you’ll likely work regular shifts – but with high-stakes data, that could save lives.
If you’re considering changing your career path in order to find a job in healthcare, then you should consider which jobs might suit you the best. That means thinking not only about the jobs and the skills required to perform them but also about the strains and stresses that can come from a career in healthcare. Speaking to professionals in the industry will help you see why this is such a rewarding – but at times incredibly tough – field in which to work.
Now let’s take a quick look at the different roles you might be able to seek if you’re interested in entering the healthcare sector. There are health workers, support staff, office workers, and researchers who all contribute to the healthcare sector – and within these roles, you’ll have ample opportunity to learn, grow, and potentially move sideways into new roles.
If you’re excited at the prospect of working on the front line, then you’ll want to be a hospital worker. Of course, hospitals have doctors, nurses, and surgeons – but they couldn’t operate without a huge background staff of cleaners, orderlies, and auxiliary staff, who help keep the place clean, hygienic, and in fine working order. All of these members of staff are contributing to the saving of lives.
Meanwhile, there are those who prefer to contribute from laboratories, pharmaceutical firms, administration centers, and offices – and these staff are helping save lives too, though not on the front lines. So, while these roles are different from hospital jobs, they’re another way into the industry.
To get into healthcare, you may have to study. This is clearly the case with doctors and nurses, who have to train for years in order to gather the skills and the knowledge to treat patients every day. But it’s also the case for a number of other healthcare roles, from chemists who work on new drugs to healthcare researchers who study specific ailments in order to unearth treatment breakthroughs.
And because medical data is so private and valuable, you’ll also need to study if you’d like to become a healthcare administrator. Study for an EMHA online or in-person in order to gain the necessary qualifications to work in the back office, helping keep the healthcare sector afloat while processing data that could save lives. Of course, to get into a college or university, you’ll need a good academic background. And that starts at school.
If you’re still in school and you’re considering a future in healthcare, you’ll want to focus on your grades. And if you left school long ago with very few qualifications, it might be that you need to sit some tests in order to gain entrance into a university or college. In both cases, a focus on the sciences, as well as math and English, will help you stand out as an impressive candidate who is well suited to the world of healthcare.
If you’re interested in becoming a doctor or nurse, it’s especially important that you focus on the sciences – and especially biology, which details the building blocks of organic life. Meanwhile, chemistry is useful for those who wish to forge a career in a pharmaceutical firm. So don’t slack off at school, and make sure you’re getting good grades in order to make yourself eligible for some of the most advanced and challenging careers in the field of healthcare.
With your grades in hand and your desired career decided upon, you’ll just need to submit an application to study at the institution of your choice. Advice from people already in the industry can really help here, as it can both set you on the right course, and also recommend where, when and how you should study in order to gain the qualifications you need to succeed on the job.
University and college admissions processes tend to be a little laborious and are only open for a certain window of time. As such, it’s important that you prepare all the documentation in advance and keep tabs on when applications open and when they close.
Your university course might be a one-year master’s program or a three-year nursing undergraduate degree. But when you come out the other side of your studies, you’ll have the qualifications necessary to find a job in healthcare. This is an exciting step, especially if you’ve been training for many years in order to assume the role of junior doctor or nurse.
It’s not difficult to find a job once you’re qualified. Oftentimes, you’ll continue working in the hospital in which you trained. But if you’d like to try something new, moving to a new city or even to a new country, it’s relatively easy for qualified healthcare workers to apply for a transfer or to search for vacancies. This shows the value of the qualifications you worked so hard to earn.
Meanwhile, there are dozens of different jobs in the healthcare profession that won’t necessarily require you to have trained for years in a certain subject. We might consider these entry-level jobs – the sorts that are available to anyone at all. And if you’re looking to join a sector that saves lives and helps the ill get back to better health, then all of these jobs might be worth considering. For instance, you might choose to:
- Work as a janitor or cleaner in a hospital or clinic
- Put your office skills to use in an entry-level administration role
- Become a secretary at the front-of-house areas in hospitals, clinics, and surgeries
- Join a hospital team as an orderly, whose responsibility it is to keep the hospital tidy and organized
- Consider roles in healthcare-adjacent firms, like catering in hospitals, or the delivery of drugs and machinery to medical centers
To apply for these jobs might be more difficult because it’s likely you’ll be competing against several others for a single role, and you may not have qualifications or experience to set yourself apart. That’s why work experience can often help you prepare to move into the healthcare sector.
When we say work experience, we mean performing a job that you may one day wish to do in a hospital or healthcare setting. So, if you work as a cleaner in a care home or school, you’ll be able to gain the experience necessary to clean a hospital. If you’re used to processing data in a corporate firm, you may well find that your skills are well-suited to a healthcare administrator role.
Getting work experience is simple – it’s just a case of applying for the right jobs and learning on the job in order to take that experience into the healthcare sector. People who set their sights on a job in healthcare, but can’t yet secure a job in the sector, will do well to get experience before they reapply to new roles in the future.
Moving Within Healthcare
You can also move within healthcare, given that this is a field in which you learn so much specific information that is useful in vastly different roles. There are stories of hospital administrators going on to become nurses and doctors who decide to leave the front line and pick up their studies again in order to become an expert in a certain disease, ailment, or treatment. Some people enter private practice or become consultants and some move in the other direction.
If you’re already in healthcare and you’re looking to make a move, you’re ideally positioned to organize a coffee date with workers across your facility. That way, you’ll learn about other jobs, openings, positions, and the skills you might need to fill them. And if you’re yet to find a job in healthcare, you should rest easy in the knowledge that once you’re through the door in one job, it’s far easier to move to a new one within the healthcare industry.
While you will need qualifications in order to work on the front line of a hospital, that’s not to say that those passionate about healthcare can’t give themselves an education in how treatments work, how to perform standard first aid and CPR, and other medical know-how that might become useful. If you’re open to the idea of qualifying as a doctor or nurse in your middle-age – which plenty of people does – then getting some key concepts under your belt through private study is a wise idea.
How will you do this? Well, you can settle down with a textbook that you know is used in the first year of doctor or nurse courses. Or you can study online, often for free, on open education platforms. You might find YouTube lectures are the best way for you to learn, or you might prefer to attend workshops, lectures, and seminars on the topic of healthcare. However, you conduct your personal studies, you’ll find this provides you with a platform to succeed, should you ever wish to become a frontline healthcare worker in the future.
Speaking of reading, there’s also much to be learned from blogs, books, and personal testimonies from people who’ve spent their whole careers in healthcare. These can be incredibly inspiring documents, full of insights about the job itself that could help you take the first steps towards a new job in the healthcare sector. Look out especially for the accounts of those who worked in hospitals for years.
What’s especially enjoyable about these texts is the fact that you’ll learn just how varied and interesting life in a hospital can be. You meet people from all walks of life, with all kinds of backstories. You come across interesting, challenging, or even baffling symptoms. No day is like another, and the camaraderie between colleagues on the night shift, for instance, appears incredibly strong. It’s because of these books that many choose to work in the healthcare profession.
Getting Started Today
If the above information has piqued your interest and got you researching healthcare roles, there’s really no time like the present to start your journey towards the sector. As detailed above, this can be long – especially if you’d like to be a doctor or nurse – or a researcher or pharmacist. But you can achieve whatever you set your sights on. You’ll just need to work hard to get there.
So whether that’s getting work experience or heading back to school to secure the grades, you’ll need to attend university, this is the time to seize the initiative and work towards a career that’s truly inspiring and rewarding. You’ll have heard it many times but helping people in their time of need – be that on the front line or as a healthcare administrator – is one of the most nourishing jobs on the planet. It’s a job cherished by millions and a job that this article aims to bring closer to your horizon.
Use all the tips outlined above to find your way into the booming, exciting healthcare sector – a place where you’ll learn on the job, make close friends, help those in need, and derive pleasure from the knowledge that you’re contributing to the good health of the nation.