Health care offers second career

Maybe you
never will work as a nurse or a doctor because you get dizzy each time you see
blood. Yet health care looks like a smart second career, especially with the
health-care overhaul potentially pumping in millions of new customers — and
jobs.

“We are
hiring clinicians, physicians, certified nursing assistants, medical coders,
billers, all kinds of people,” said Michelle Lee, chief executive of Alexandria-based
STG International, which provides medical and professional staff and services.
STG manages clinics for the Veterans Health Administration, provides Head Start
training and recruits candidates for many government jobs.

Many people
filling those jobs arrive with no background in the medical sector, Lee said.
What they have is a commitment to help people feel better or to work with
patients. They also might appreciate the prospect of long-term job security and
an array of career options. A labor shortage could develop within eight years,
with health-care jobs going unfilled unless baby boomers and others embrace
them, according to a recent report by several academics and Civic Ventures, an
organization that advocates education and employment opportunities for people
55 and older.

Phyllis Segal,
Civic Ventures vice president of health care, said she expects “an
explosion of opportunities” fueled partly by the new health-care law.

Health care
grew even during the recession, when most other sectors were cutting jobs. The
sector has added 244,000 jobs in the past year, according to the Bureau of
Labor Statistics.

Among the most
vibrant areas:

— Insurance
companies. With every American going to be required to carry health insurance,
insurance companies will hire agents, customer service staff, claims processors
and professionals.

— Government
agencies and contractors. An array of jobs from IT manager to program director
to medical assistants will open up, Lee said. Many will require medical or
specialized degrees; others will require certification or professional
expertise.

— Wellness
and elder care. Jobs such as wellness coach and patient navigator are developing
and will be great second careers, Segal said.

— Nursing and
patient care. Employers will need to hire almost a million new nurses and home
health aides by 2018, according to BLS. Vocational nurses, nursing aides and
personal aides will also be in demand. If you’re ready to move into a
health-care career, start with a healthy curiosity. “Talk to people who
work in the health care field,” Segal said. “Ask a lot of
questions.” You also should find some service or volunteer work in
medicine to learn more and build your network.

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