How to Build a Sustainable Career in Healthcare

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With healthcare being the new evergreen career and beginning to see some of the respect that is due to it, the numbers of new entrants to the field have increased exponentially. Furthermore, as physical, and mental health and wellbeing become more important across the generations, building a career in healthcare has become an attractive option. However, to ensure that this is not a fly-by-night foray into a new career, it is important to look at becoming a healthcare professional in a sustainable and long-term fashion.

This article will explain and discuss how exactly one can enter and then build a sustainable career in healthcare.

Healthcare is Booming

As we all hope to live long, happy lives, we will need adequate healthcare over the long term. Research shows that there will be an 18% increase in healthcare professionals in the US till 2026, with a total of 2.4 million additional jobs. For many analysts, the growth has been based on the ageing population; however, there is much more to the increased demand for healthcare than the ageing population. 

Society as a whole has become more proactive concerning their health, and as such, more people are enquiring about health and wellbeing and being intimately involved in the decisions about their health and wellbeing. The amount of time people are spending on particularly their physical health has also increased, but people still prioritize their physical health. A recent survey found that 61% of respondents said they spend more time on their physical rather than mental health, which is a key area of opportunity. 

The kind of healthcare that is in demand and why

There are a number of specific sectors within healthcare that are doing extremely well. In the USA and Canada, the top healthcare jobs are surgeons, followed by health policy specialists and health facility managers, pharmacists, these are the jobs that will pay the most out of all health care, but it is the ancillary jobs that are increasing in number. For example, every surgeon, pharmacist, and specialist need a nurse, and these treatment teams are located in a facility that needs to be managed and so on and so on; the range of jobs related to healthcare is endless and varied, culminating on some of the highest paid jobs on the labor market at the moment. The most prolific of all the healthcare jobs is nursing, and registered general nurses are the fastest growing profession in the USA at the moment. 

Whether you are looking to start a new career or develop one you currently have in the healthcare sector, it is important to know that salaries are attractive and competitive in the market. The Covid crisis created a demand for healthcare workers, so this has been mirrored in increased salaries and bonuses for professionals in this sector. The salaries for nursing professionals, for example, increased by 12% over the last year. 

Start at the bottom and work your way up

As with most professions, the key is to generate natural growth over the long term; there is no rush to creating a sustainable career, and as such, the best place to start is at the bottom rung of the ladder. On any specific day, over 30 000′ entry-level’ healthcare jobs are added to advertising job boards across the country. Thousands of these can be applied for with nothing more than the passion for getting involved and the right behaviours and attitude. Again, it is about thinking about the ancillary entry-level jobs or even volunteering that may be able to get you into the sector.

While doing this consider, enrolling online for diplomas and social care qualifications. While many nursing or healthcare jobs require little formal education, many of them, especially for advanced positions, do require some formal education. Finding out about the difference between an EMHA vs. MBA in Healthcare can make a big difference in the kind of degree and opportunities you find.  

The formal entry points that you can consider should you have the time and the academic background to gain entry offer a wider scope of opportunity for anyone looking to change or improve their current career trajectory. Again, it is about thinking about where you would want to work and then choosing an appropriately certified course that would cover that area in terms of the state or country’s healthcare regulations.

Registered nursing

Becoming a registered nurse is one of the formal start points for the healthcare sector in the US. This registration can be preceded by a certified nursing assistant position and then a licensed practical nurse. The required registrations will differ for different countries, and as such, it is important to ensure that any online study is clear as to where the course is registered and what additional licenses to practice you will need.

School nursing

It is a great way to begin a career in healthcare; there is less pressure in terms of frequency as well as seriousness of incidents to deal with, and it is a great way to continue to learn while you get some practical knowledge. There are also many more options than you might think in where and what you do as a school nurse. This could include where you work geographically and what type of school you work in, and the age of the students you engage with. 

There are a number of advantages of choosing a school nursing, for example, having holiday and summer breaks that coincide with the school calendar, knowing you are making a difference to the lives of students, and knowing you are working in a career that is seeing increasing demand. Remember, however, that there are also some disadvantages, as with any job. This includes lower earning potential than other nursing specializations and having to think about part-time working only. 

Sport first aid/emergency services

First aid or emergency services can start with a simple first aid course. It is universal and can be done in a matter of a few weeks allowing you to assist as a first aider in your current employ at sports events and community events. Alternatively, one can register to train for emergency response and first aid. This is more complex and detailed as can be expected but will allow you entry to a great professional and being on the ambulance or employed as a first responder is a good way to learn and gain valuable experience.

These entry routes will depend specifically on your own situation and context, and these are but a few of the top examples. There will be many a way into a profession that is eager for new recruits.

Study, experience, study some more

Your development must be viewed as cyclical, and if you are to build a sustainable career, you must plan in advance and prepare for continuous improvement. As mentioned above, there is a need to continue to learn and grow; in fact, from the entry into any healthcare role, there will be a need to update and improve skills as new techniques and methods are introduced, or increased amounts of technology is used to perform some healthcare tasks. The cycle should be about learning, practicing, and gaining experience, and then continuing to learn. The concept is now formalized as the idea of Ongoing lifelong learning and continual professional development, which is something that many employers will look for, and something you will be required to prove to renew certain licenses.

Hard Work

Nothing will pay better than hard work. Whatever the role and no matter how much you feel you need to be in another role, it is vital to be able to perform your current job or functions in the workplace to the best of your ability. Any role in healthcare is an essential service, and by overlooking it or non-performance it could affect someone’s health, or worse yet, cost a life. Going into the healthcare sector means knowing that you are making a difference in the lives of people, communities, and society as a whole. Working hard and achieving job satisfaction will come easy if this is core to what you want to do.

Be familiar with the jobs market

If you are about to build a career, you will need to know what is available. The only way to do this is to register on a sector-specific jobs site, read the latest job boards, and read industry news and create a clear understanding of where the industry is going. Not understanding what actual jobs are available and where is one of the best ways to find the right type of work in a place that works for you and your family.

There are many jobs that allow you to work flexibly, in different spaces other than in an office, and as your own boss. Working in healthcare is one of those professions that gives you a certain amount of control and flexibility in your working space and time and knowing what is out there is key to that. In addition, we are seeing a surge in understanding and relating to different aspects of healthcare, wellbeing, and holistic living means that finding something that suits your lifestyle will not be as hard as you might think. 

Build Leadership and management skills

A long career in a specific sector will pay off considerably more if you prepare to be in management or leadership. The idea is to build the practical skills that you need to be operational and work in the sector, but once the experience is built, the next logical step is to look for management and leadership experience to continue moving up the ladder of success.

Being a good leader is about more than just a job title, though, and knowing the key qualities of a good leader in the healthcare sector is important. Here are a few key ideas:

  • Empathy is an essential characteristic of a good leader in healthcare because it allows you to show your team that you care, you are able to relate to them, and that your behaviour mirrors your expectations. 
  • Communicating your needs and ensuring good, open communication amongst your team is a key strength of any good leader. Your communication style needs to mirror the context and ensure that you act not only as a leader but also as a mentor and coach.
  • Self-awareness means knowing your own strengths and weaknesses and being open to learning from those around you. This also entails knowing your team and being aware of your position of power within that team. 

Think about the freelance or small business option

Once you have built the management experience, the next logical step is to investigate if the opportunity to work for yourself exists. From specialized care work to contracted management of specific health care services, the range of opportunities out there is wide and varied.

Freelancing in healthcare as a caregiver, care home nursing, and even as a senior manager or surgeon is becoming a popular means of working in the sector. Just be sure to be made aware of any licenses and regulations you need and registrations you need. Going freelance also requires investment in your own skills and the hardware and software to keep up with the industry. Make sure you are using the most up-to-date technology to match industry standards and are at the forefront of digital innovation in your field. Digital upskilling is a key concern for the healthcare sector, so staying in touch with new trends is vital for any freelancer.


Creating a sustainable long-term career is not an easy thing to do, and nor is it something that can be achieved overnight. It requires an understanding of the sector, an understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses, and a clear objective of where you want to be in the long term. However, if you plan in the short term, your sustainable career in healthcare will be assured, and your ability to make a difference as a healthcare professional will be guaranteed. 

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