Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Health-Care Jobs that Don’t Involve Providing Health Care

It’s well known that the health-care industry is the field that is growing fastest and will offer the most job openings in the near future. If you’re facing a career choice, you may have heard many times that you should consider working in this field. But maybe you don’t want to work with patients. If you don’t like working closely with people, if you have no interest in the workings of the human body, if the ick factor of some patient-care work turns you off, you may have decided to avoid the health-care field. But let me try to change your thinking by pointing out the many good jobs in this industry that don’t involve patient care.

You have probably heard that the health-care field is the nation’s most dynamic industry. In fact, total employment in the field is expected to increase by 30 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is more than twice as fast as the average for the workforce. The industry will open 20.5 million jobs over this time period. It’s true that most of these jobs will be in patient-care occupations such as Registered Nurses (an average of 120,740 openings per year), Home Health Aides (83,750), and Nursing Aides, Orderlies, and Attendants (49,610). However, any industry this big creates lots of jobs in roles that support the industry’s main function--in this case, patient care--without actually participating in this function.

Let me give you two examples, based on the career-change experiences of two personal friends. (The names have been changed.)

Deborah got a bachelor’s degree in chemistry about 30 years ago but built her career around a picture-framing shop that she and her husband owned and ran. When sales at the shop went into a tailspin, she decided to leverage her background in chemistry and enrolled in a one-year certification program, given at a hospital, in clinical laboratory science. The program was aimed at working adults and was offered at hours that were convenient, although it required a commute of more than an hour.

After being certified, she got a job in a clinical lab doing the kind of laboratory work she had been trained for. But she stayed in that job, acquiring experience with the equipment and procedures, for only for a year. That’s because her real love is sales, and she has excellent people skills and persuasive ability. So, instead of doing lab work, she now works as a sales rep for a company that manufactures the equipment used in clinical labs. The travel that comes with the job is probably the part that appeals least to her, but it is not as burdensome now as it would have been when her children were still small.

Kate is a copy editor with many years of experience editing books that often had a lot of technical details, and she was highly skilled at making sure all the details were correct and internally consistent. After being downsized from this job, she found a new job in which she edits the brochures that pharmaceutical companies send to physicians, explaining what the drugs do, how they are to be used, what the side effects may be, and so forth. As you can imagine, this information needs to be scrupulously accurate to avoid costly lawsuits, so Kate’s skills are highly relevant to this work. She still works in publishing, but it’s a very different niche than the book, newspaper, magazine, and Web outlets that employ most publishing workers.

Deborah and Kate now both work in the health-care field. The same forces that are expanding opportunities for workers involved in patient care--the aging of the population, the expansion of medical insurance, and the development of new health-care technologies and medications--are adding security and opportunity to Deborah’s and Kate’s careers.

In my book The Sequel: How to Change Your Career Without Starting Over, I describe how you can move from one occupation to a different one while taking advantage of your experience in an industry. That’s what Deborah did by transitioning from lab work to sales, while remaining in the health-care industry. But it’s also possible to stay in the same occupation while moving into a different industry, and that’s what Kate did when she transitioned from a book publisher to a brochure publisher. Technically, she is still in the publishing industry, but her new work role is entirely directed towards the needs of the health-care field.

Here are some other occupations that do not involve patient care, together with the number of workers holding those jobs in the health-care industry in 2010:

Receptionists and Information Clerks 753,600
Office Clerks, General 555,800
First-Line Supervisors of Office and Administrative Support Workers 347,300
Billing and Posting Clerks 340,700
Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks 201,800
General and Operations Managers 157,400
Executive Secretaries and Executive Administrative Assistants 155,900
Interviewers, Except Eligibility and Loan 136,800
Customer Service Representatives 124,500
Bill and Account Collectors 117,300
Social and Community Service Managers 96,500
Security Guards 71,800
Accountants and Auditors 66,100
Administrative Services Managers 49,300
Training and Development Specialists 42,500
Computer Support Specialists 39,200
Chief Executives 35,700
Financial Managers 34,300

So don’t rule out the health-care industry because you can’t stand the sight of blood. There are many good jobs that don’t involve patient care, and one of them may be the right one for you.


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  2. Working for the healthcare industry can be very rewarding. Aside from the monetary benefits one receives, there is something even bigger and more valuable that you get out of it – the feeling of doing something for humanity as a profession. Yet many do not feel that hospital settings are the right work environment for them.
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