If the healthcare field is something you’re considering, you have several choices. In fact, that’s one of the great things about a career in the medical profession. There are so many jobs from which to choose. So how do you know what path to take?
Start by determining your interests. Do you want to provide direct patient care, work primarily with the elderly, or provide some type of therapy?
Next, consider how much schooling you’re willing to take. Some professions, such as becoming a doctor, require at least eight years of college and med school. Other careers require a bachelor’s or associate degree, and some jobs require even less.
It’s also helpful to consider what types of jobs are currently in demand and predicted to grow in the next decade. Below are three in-demand healthcare support jobs to consider.
Occupational therapy assistants are expected to be one of the most in-demand healthcare support jobs in the next ten years. A 2016 report by U.S. News and World Report listed occupational therapy assisting as one of the top healthcare support jobs for the coming years. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the need for occupational therapy assistants will increase by 40 percent in the next ten years, which is much faster than average.
The demand for occupational therapy assistants partially stems from the medical needs of the baby boom generation. Also, advances in medical care mean people are increasingly surviving conditions, such as strokes and heart attacks. Although patients survive various conditions, they may need therapy to regain their ability to perform daily living tasks.
Some healthcare facilities that are trying to reduce costs may be employing fewer occupational therapists and more OT assistants, which also creates demand.
OT assistants are required to be licensed or registered in all 50 states. In order to be eligible for licensing, an associate degree in occupational therapy assisting is required, along with passing the exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.
Occupational therapy assistants work under the direction of a licensed OT and may perform a variety of duties, including teaching patients how to use adaptive equipment and helping patients do stretching or other therapeutic activities.
Home Health Aides
Home health aides provide care to patients in their own homes. Aides may have a variety of duties: administering medications, monitoring vital signs, and providing assistance with daily living activities, such as eating, dressing, and grooming.
Home health aide training programs are available through community colleges and technical schools. Most programs are about six months or less.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is expected to be a 38 percent growth in jobs for home health aides through 2024, which is much faster than average for other jobs. The demand for home health aides may be due to the fact the baby boom generation is aging, and people are living longer. In addition, a large number of baby boomers want to age in place and remain in their own homes.
If you’re looking for a career in the medical field which is in demand and does not require several years of training to get started, working as a medical assistant might be a career to consider.
Medical assistants work in doctors’ offices, clinics, and urgent care centers. They may be involved in the administrative aspects of running a medical practice, such as insurance billing, scheduling appointments, and answering phones. Medical assistants also measure vital signs, take medical histories, and help the doctor with exams or procedures.
Most states do not have specific training requirements to become a medical assistant. But most employers prefer to hire someone who has completed a medical assistant training program. Although two-year associate degree programs are available, most certificate MA programs can be completed in a year.
The BLS predicts that jobs for medical assistants will grow about 23 percent through the year 2024, which is faster than the average for other occupations.