There has never been a better time to pursue a career in health. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare support occupations and healthcare practitioners and technical occupations are projected to be among the fastest growing occupational groups. During the 2016–26 projections decade, these two occupational groups account for 13 of the 30 fastest growing occupations. In U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 ranking of the 100 best jobs, 44 were in a health-related field.
The decision to pursue a career in health can be challenging. It is important to examine your own abilities, needs and desires. Explorehealthcareers.org provides some useful questions to ask yourself:
Do you like to deal with people?
Are you comfortable with science? Many (but not all) health careers require you to be a strong science student. All health careers involve some laboratory science and some programs demand intensive work in the hard sciences (e.g., chemistry, physics, biology).
Are you prepared to keep up with developments in your field? Good health care practitioners are committed to giving their patients the best care available. That means keeping up with the latest developments by continuing to study and learn throughout your career.
Are you comfortable in a health care setting?
In many (but not all) health careers, you may spend much of your time in the company of sick, disabled or dying people. In terms of a clinical setting, you might work in a hospital, community health center, mobile clinic, long-term care facility, private practice office, health maintenance organization (HMO) or possibly a patient’s home.
If you prefer less direct contact with patients, there are numerous other health-related work settings — including pharmacies, laboratories, medical libraries and corporate, not-for-profit or government offices.
You might be part of a small staff or a huge organization, working at the national, regional, state or local level. The possibilities in this field are almost endless.
Are you a team player? Health care is increasingly becoming a group activity in which a patient’s recovery depends on how well each member of the health care team performs his or her specific function—and how well they communicate and collaborate with one another.
What lifestyle do you envision? How do you feel about facing life-and-death situations on a daily basis? Some (though not all) health careers involve coping with emergencies, working extremely long hours and shouldering heavy responsibilities. What kind of lifestyle do you envision? How much time do you plan to spend at work, versus at home?
Prepare for a Health Career While in High School Most high school students have one goal in mind—earning their diploma. But if you want to pursue a health care career, simply meeting graduation requirements may not be enough. High school is the time to start preparing by: