Breaking into a Healthcare Career

HealthcareCareer300X200Whether you are about to enter the job market or you are looking to switch careers, you should strongly consider health care. Health systems are often among the largest and most reliable employers, especially in rural areas. The need for health care is constant and growing. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 23 percent job growth between 2012 and 2022. Even when the economy falters, health systems and hospitals often continue adding jobs.

We are also not talking about just any jobs. Health care jobs provide the satisfaction of helping those in need. They often offer better pay, generous time off, and great benefit packages compared with entry level jobs in other industries. What’s more, if you do well and enjoy the work, there is lots of room to grow your responsibilities and your salary.

You may think that you need to get a lot of education before starting in health care. That’s simply not true. There are hundreds of jobs, especially in entry level clinical roles or in non-clinical support roles, that may be a perfect fit for your existing skill set. If not, you can often meet the initial education requirements in as little as a few weeks or even on the job.

Here are a few tips that will help you get from where you are to a lucrative and satisfying career in the healthcare field:

First, assess your interests and skills. Have experience in customer service? In a hospital, you might be a good fit for access services or patient coordinator jobs, the first people patients encounter when they enter the hospital or medical practice. Did you love science in high school? You may enjoy working in the lab. If math is your thing, look for jobs in the billing department. Are you good with computers? There is an information systems department that manages all of the hospital’s technology.

If you don’t find the perfect fit among the job openings at the health system near you, be willing to try something new or step outside your comfort zone. Many of our employees are, at first, turned off by blood or illness. But once they get started in a medical practice, for instance, they learn to shift their focus to the patient as a person. Helping someone in need gives many people tremendous satisfaction. The other seemingly less desirable aspects of the job become far less important.

Imagine that, after working a while as a housekeeper, you find that you would really like a job nursing, but you don’t yet have the skills. Many hospitals offer training programs, tuition reimbursement, and scholarships to get you the education you need at a great price. With your foot in the door and having been proven as a valuable member of your team, you are more likely to get the job you really want and continue growing your responsibilities and your salary, if you choose.

Even if you are not sure exactly what type of career you want, an entry level health care job is a great vantage point for seeing all of the different types of careers available, both in health care and outside. You will likely be attracted to a particular type of work and have valuable opportunities to ask questions of the person doing the job. The answers will no doubt help you build a satisfying career that you can be proud of.

Polly Cipperly is the director of Human Resources at Southwestern Vermont Health Care. To browse openings at Southwestern Vermont Health Care, visit