Many young adults are finding that a career in healthcare is the right prescription for fulfilling their life's dreams. They gain satisfaction from helping people live longer, healthier lives, while also taking steps securing their own financial future.
With healthcare now equaling nearly one-fifth of the U.S. economy, employment opportunities abound. As the U.S. population ages and as medications and treatments advance, the need for healthcare workers is expected to continue growing faster than other sectors of the economy.
Wide range of careers available
When we think of healthcare professionals, doctors and nurses are what first comes to mind. But there's a broader range of other healthcare careers open to new graduates.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists nearly 70 healthcare occupations. Here's a sampling: audiologists, dental hygienists, dietitians, EMTs and paramedics, medical transcriptionists, pharmacists, phlebotomists, physical therapists, radiation technicians, massage therapists and speech pathologists. Veterinary careers are also listed.
In addition, some graduates find a career in the medical field through medical research, dedicating their careers to finding cures and better treatments for debilitating diseases.
Those who prefer to avoid the sight of blood can find rewarding careers in behind-the-scenes support positions that help hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities operate more efficiently. These include employees who handle scheduling, office work, cafeteria service and maintenance. Still others choose work in related fields such as the insurance industry, pharmaceutical manufacturing and medical equipment supply.
Choosing the right study program
The Bureau of Labor Statistics listing also provides the median pay and entry-level education required for each occupation, ranging from a high school diploma or equivalent for an optician to doctoral degrees for surgeons. You can review the entire list at their website (search: Healthcare).
Pathways to careers can start early
Whether in healthcare or another field of interest students can start preparing for a career as early as fifth grade, "Middle school is a pivotal time for defining the future of a student's life," explains Joe Booth, managing director of California-based Career & College Clubs. "We encourage students to take an interest survey, not to pigeonhole them, but to help them explore opportunities for pursuing their interests in high school and into college."
One group of 15 eighth graders from Grange Middle School in Fairfield, California, shadowed a clinical lab specialist at a local medical center. Afterward, one girl said, "I think that's going to be my career," adding that she enjoyed studying math and science.