If you research healthcare careers, you’ll find that while some of the assumptions you had were right, others may be wrong. There are a wide variety of jobs, work settings and duties in the healthcare field.
If you are considering a job in the healthcare field, you likely have some preconceived notions about what you’ll do and where you will work but that should just be a starting point.
Many people have preconceived ideas about what it is like working in healthcare. If you do additional research into healthcare careers, you’ll find that while some of the assumptions you had were right, others were mostly, or completely wrong. That’s because there are a wide variety of jobs, work settings and duties in the healthcare field.
Here is a look at some of the common misconceptions about healthcare careers:
There are only a few types of jobs
There are many healthcare jobs beyond the traditional doctor and nurse positions. Healthcare professionals are needed to help patients when they first walk into the doctor's office to after they leave.
Medical assistant: You’re likely the first person the patient sees at a doctor’s appointment and will take their vitals and ask questions about their health.
Medical biller and medical coder: Creating and keeping track of medical bills is an important task, and many people are involved in the back-and-forth with doctors and/or care centers, insurance companies and patients.
Although all these careers are very different from one another, they are vital to the healthcare industry!
You have to study for many years before getting a job
A few healthcare positions – such as doctors – require years of study and residency. There are a good portion of positions that require much less, including some that can get you in the workforce in about a year or two.
Medical assistant students, for example, can choose between a diploma or an associate degree program, which can range from 10 to 20 months at Herzing University. Also, students can transfer up to 31 to 45 credits towards their degree program.
Surgical technology students can get a head start on their new career in at least 20 months. After earning an associate degree in surgical technology, you have the option to advance your degree with a bachelor degree or MBA.
If you are interested in nursing, you could earn an associate degree in nursing in 20 months, which would prepare you to take the licensing exams to become a registered nurse (RN).
You won’t have normal hours
Even though hospitals are open 24-7 and most clinics have longer hours to better serve the public, it’s not uncommon for some healthcare workers to work a normal 9-to-5 type shift weekdays. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many medical records technicians will work regular hours and sometimes have the option to even work from home.
Your hours will largely depend on your seniority or type of job. Some nurses might need to work overnight, second shift and/or weekends. Some healthcare professionals might also have the opportunity to work four, 10-hour days or 3 twelve hour days but some people prefer that to the typical schedule! Always look into your
You have to care for patients
If you are someone who doesn't want to work directly with patients, there are still options for you. Many healthcare jobs don’t involve direct patient care.
You could pursue an administrative role in healthcare and start in a medical office administration program. This program – which takes about 20 months – will prepare you for positions such as medical office assistant, medical receptionist and admitting clerk. You might interact with patients when they check-in or set appointments, but you would not be part of a direct care team.
Also, medical billing and coding positions are roles that support the healthcare organization, making sure patients and insurance companies receive accurate billing.
Some jobs involve a limited amount of patient care, such as ones you can earn with a degree in radiologic technology. You would oversee tests with X-rays and other high-tech medical equipment, but your interaction with patients would be for the time period that the test takes place.
You have to work in a hospital or clinic
There are a wide variety of workplace options for healthcare workers, including:
Hospitals: This is the most commonly known, of course, since hospitals need to employ a lot of healthcare workers to keep running. Many individuals will choose to work in hospitals but it is certainly not the only place a healthcare professional can work. Many healthcare centers are also building medical offices and outpatient centers on or near their hospital campuses.
Clinics and centers: There are many types of freestanding clinics and medical centers, from urgent care to outpatient surgical centers. Many healthcare workers – including nurses, medical assistants, radiologic technologists and medical administrators – are needed to provide and support care in these facilities.
Long-term care and rehab: As members of the baby boomer population continue to hit retirement age, more and more healthcare workers will be needed in nursing homes as well as rehabilitation centers that help people transition from the hospital to home.
Offices: Healthcare administrators often work in an office setting, whether within a hospital, a healthcare campus or a separate headquarters or office building. Many healthcare organizations are so large they need multiple locations to fit all of their administrative employees.
Travel: Some medical professionals – especially nurses and medical assistants – will travel for their work, whether across town or around the country. Home health nurses, for example, are constantly on the go and visit their clients in their homes.
Your home: As the work-from-home trend has accelerated, more healthcare workers are finding their own homes an ideal part-time or full-time office. It’s easiest for administrative professionals such as medical coders and billers to work from home since they’re not directly interacting with patients and other medical professionals. However, with the growth of telehealth, it’s now easier for patient-focused healthcare workers to handle some or all of their interactions away from the office or hospital.
* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2020. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.