Health Science Technology
Some of today’s most sought-after careers are in the heath care industry, where prospects look good for the future, especially as baby boomers begin to retire in the next five to 10 years. Health care professions can be separated into five categories: doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses and allied health professionals. Entry-level education for a career in health care may range from several months, for certification, several years for a diploma, to four years for a bachelor’s degree. Approximately 60 percent of new nurses and the majority of allied health professionals are educated in community colleges, typically at the certificate or associate degree level. Advancement is common, allowing graduates to continue their education and earn advanced degrees through the doctoral level. If you intend to continue your education and pursue a higher degree, be sure that credits from your chosen institution will transfer.
Allied health care occupations constitute about 60 percent of the total number of health care workers, and there are more than 150 different careers to choose from. Career ladders are common in many allied health occupations, allowing graduates to earn advanced credentials. Most health care occupations also require continuing education to retain an active credential. It is truly a lifelong learning experience.
The most important point to remember when considering a career in health care is to "try the profession on." This is easy to do today through the Internet, the wide variety of career and professional websites and videos available to choose from. Just as we try on clothing or test drive a vehicle before buying it, students need to do the same with their career choice. Get out and shadow a professional for several hours to see what is involved in the day-to-day activities, because this is something that you will be doing for the next 20 to 30 years after graduation. It is important to be fully aware of the career and its expectations before selecting a program and a college. Some allied health occupations are responsible for daily, around-the-clock hospital coverage, while others may only work day shift Monday through Friday. Some have direct patient-care responsibilities, and others are considered supportive and behind-the-scenes, with no direct patient contact.
Traits held in common, regardless of the chosen allied health career, are: attention to detail, excellent oral and written communication, emotional stability and maturity, computer skills and critical thinking. Math and science skills are important in most allied health occupations. A passion for the profession and caring for people is important. Remember, employers are looking for a career professional, not someone simply looking for a job.
Entry into the schools, as well as employment in health care facilities, will typically require a criminal background check, child abuse clearance, physical examination and drug screening. Although many young adults are tattooed today, visible tattoos are typically not allowed in hospitals. Additionally, visible tattoos must be covered while in the clinical setting. Also, many health care facilities are tobacco-free, and prohibit employees from carrying the odor of smoke.
The popularity of careers in health care allows schools and programs to be selective in their admission criteria and very competitive, even at the community college level. Although admission may be guaranteed into the college, admission into various health care programs will not. Program capacity is typically based on the availability of qualified instructors, lab space and clinical slots available within the community. Be sure to research accredited programs to find the right fit for you.
Earnings vary in health care, but employees in most health care occupations have a higher earning potential than the average in other industries. Salaries will vary considerably based on level of education, professional responsibilities and location of employment.
A career in health care may be just what you are looking for, if you enjoy helping others and are looking for an exciting, challenging career in one of the fastest-growing segments of our economy. WORKING CONDITIONS Students need to be in good physical health with documented negative PPD testing and up to date immunizations. A physical must indicate the employee’s ability to lift forty pounds. An employee may be on their feet for an extended period of time. Work hours often include week ends, holidays, evenings and nights. Job hazards include back injuries and exposure to needle sticks and blood borne pathogens. There is generally a professional staff that is willing to provide support. Physician’s offices, hospitals, long term care facilities and homes are just some of the health care settings where employment can be found.
Educational Attainment Projected Employement Growth 2008-2018 Total Annual Openings Average Entry Level Wage
Moderate-Term On-The-Job Training 16.2% 380 $35, 390
Associate Degree 16.5% 261 $71,520
Medical and Clinical Lab Technologists
Bachelor's Degree 6.8% 197 $47,820
Medical and Clinical Lab Technicians
Associate Degree 8.3% 245 $34,160
Associate Degree 8.5% 242 $55,910
Associate Degree 16.7% 147 $55,870
Professional Degree 18.5% 418 $115, 00
Master's Degree 16.6% 277
Source: CWIA, 2008-18 Long-Term Occupational Employment Projections & Occupational Employment Statistics Survey (May 2009)POST SECONDARY EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIESMontgomery County Community College
Reading Area Community College
Reading Hospital School of Nursing
Alvernia College, School of Nursing
Gwynedd Mercy College
DeSales UniversityWest Chester University