Top Jobs: Health Care
Administrative, clinical and IT jobs offer interesting careers in a wide-open field
Is your child looking for a rewarding career, but not interested in a college degree? They’ll find plenty of opportunities in health care.
First-time jobseekers and career changers have access to an array of health care positions that often require no more than short certification courses or community college credits.
“There are so many different areas in health care that you can get into,” says Allison Wilhide, talent acquisition partner for St. Francis Healthcare in Wilmington.
Those areas include a variety of workplace settings — from hospitals, labs, rehabilitation and long-term care facilities to emergency services, physicians’ offices and at-home care.
“Individuals without a college degree can excel,” says Pamela Ridgeway, vice president for talent and inclusion at ChristianaCare, Delaware’s largest health care system with more than 11,000 employees in its facilities throughout the state.
Here is a breakdown of some of the major categories that are always in need of fresh talent.
Administrative positions have job titles such as patient registration representative, surgery scheduler, billing representative, medical receptionist and a variety of others.
Many of these positions start at, or behind, the front desk of a hospital or other medical setting. The patient registration representative, for instance, greets patients, completes patients’ initial paperwork and is “the first person that others see when they come into the hospital,” says Wilhide.
These positions are available to those with high school diplomas and basic computer skills. Customer service experience is a plus. Benefits include tuition reimbursement for those who might want to attend school while working, she adds.
The non-economic rewards are at least two-fold: the opportunity to explore the health care field and make lateral moves into other departments or work toward promotions; and personal interaction with the public.
Clinical positions are likely the first thing that comes to mind when you consider careers in health care. Again, they are available in a variety of settings and the required training runs the spectrum from none to an associate degree. Clinical positions have job titles such as patient sitter, medical assistant, phlebotomist, patient care technician, inhalation therapist and X-ray technician.
The most in-demand positions are in nursing support — patient sitters, unit clerks who perform secretarial duties on hospital units, and patient care technicians, says Wilhide.
At ChristianaCare, Ridgeway says, patient care technicians are in high demand, along with phlebotomists and medical assistants. These positions require training programs of two to six months, depending on the specialty and place of study.
Salaries depend on the position and employer and on one’s training and experience. Entry-level positions, such as patient sitter — an aide who stays with a patient who may be at risk of falling or other dangerous behavior — begin around $15 per hour, for an annual salary averaging $30,000. At the other end of the spectrum, inhalation therapist, which requires an associate degree and licensing, would pay at least double that.
Information Technology and Related Positions
Technology encompasses an assortment of jobs in health care, many of which don’t require college degrees.
These entry-level technical positions include the service desk, desktop/PC support, IT security, systems analysts, IT project managers and network analysts. Support specialists with a high school diploma could earn an average of $60,000 annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Many of these jobs go unfilled in Delaware and across the country, even in times of full employment, says Mike Maksymow, chief information officer at Beebe Healthcare, which serves southern Delaware, including Lewes, Rehoboth Beach and Georgetown.
Maksymow says he looks for candidates who possess the appropriate knowledge to perform their job. “Knowledge is acquired through experience and education, formal or self-learned,” he says. If job candidates do not have the knowledge learned in school, he advises “working hard in an entry-level position, perhaps even in a non-technical-related job, and taking on small tasks to show one’s technical proficiency to the organization’s hiring managers.”
Opportunities for advancement are plentiful in health care technology, he says: “At Beebe, we provide a Technical Ladder program for team members who are interested in advancing their careers.”
And the technology field has its non-monetary rewards, as well. “I tell my team all the time — we do not physically treat or care for our patients, but we do provide our care teams with the support and tools they use to heal and save lives,” says Maksymow. “So, in essence, we do heal and save lives every day.”
Mythbusters: Health Care
Addressing common misconceptions about careers in the sector
When you picture your child embarking on a career in health care, you may worry about college debt, long years in school and dangerous situations. But this sector, like many others, has a wealth of different job options, including those that don’t require a four-year degree or don’t entail a heightened risk of exposure to illness.
“When many look at a hospital, they immediately think of the doctors and nurses there that work hard every day to heal and save lives,” says Mike Maksymow, chief information officer at Beebe Healthcare, serving southern Delaware. “What people do not usually associate with a hospital are the support teams that work hard behind the scenes to ensure that these great doctors and nurses can do their jobs and provide a safe environment of care, including IT.”
Here is a closer look at some misconceptions about the health care field.
Health care jobs take years of school, which can result in significant debt.
Jobs in the medical profession do take considerable education and often result in large loan debt. There are, however, great opportunities in health care for those without college degrees, says Allison Wilhide, talent acquisition partner at St. Francis Healthcare in Wilmington.
Health care offers jobs that let people try an area of interest or explore a career change. Think about clinical options such as patient care technicians, medical receptionist, X-ray technician or inhalation therapist. These take from a few months to two years of training and a lot less money than a college degree.
Health care employees are regularly exposed to sick people.
Health care today involves a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, labs, urgent care centers and offices. In every setting, there are administrative positions — such as patient registration representative, medical secretary, scheduler and billing clerk — that rarely bring people into contact with ill patients. They do provide opportunities to learn about other allied medical fields and interact with the public.
Technology jobs are all about coders and hackers.
“This is what we commonly see on television shows,” says Maksymow. On the contrary, “the breadth and depth of IT is vast. There is likely something of interest for everyone, from coding to IT security, to project implementation, connecting devices or site locations and more. It is hard work and ever-changing and evolving, but extremely rewarding,” he says.
“Tech is such an important part of health care delivery today, and we’ve all experienced it with telehealth during the pandemic,” says Michele Schiavoni, director of external relations and marketing at the Delaware Prosperity Partnership. “These things require apps, and they’re often apps that are customized to the health care system. Delaware has a great concentration of talent and expertise in that area.”
A decision to start a career in health care means your child will be stuck there.
It is good to get thinking about careers and education in middle school, but students don’t have to make a final decision at that age. It is a fact that people change jobs — and careers — multiple times in their work lives.
Maksymow offers this observation: “It takes most of us several years to figure out the answer to ‘what do you want to be.’ Without the sufficient accumulated knowledge, how is one able to answer this? I always say, you don’t know what you don’t know. If one is working in a role — in a hospital, for instance — that they thought they might like, it might not turn out to be what they had expected. … However, while working within an organization, there is an opportunity to learn what everyone on the team does. This presents an opportunity for an individual to seek additional knowledge or experience to pursue a new role and potentially even apply internally for this position with a whole new career path.”
By Mary Maushard