Considering a change in career as healthcare worker? Many healthcare professionals consider leaving the healthcare sector. This can be as a result of several reasons. This article will examine the healthcare trends driving change in the sector. It will also look at the declining interest in healthcare work and the reasons behind it. Lastly, it will highlight alternative career future for healthcare workers.
Current healthcare sector trends
The healthcare industry continues to witness rapid advancements in technology. They include telemedicine, electronic health records (EHR) and wearable devices, amongst other innovations. Knowledge in utilizing and managing these technologies are important. Healthcare tech jobs and professionals with these skills are in high demand. There is also a trend towards more integration and collaboration in healthcare. This means team-based care involving diverse healthcare workers is becoming the norm. Thus, allied healthcare jobs are becoming more essential. Such roles include medical assistant jobs and dental hygienist jobs. Others are medical laboratory technician jobs and therapy assistant jobs.
In Asia, healthcare is also shifting towards technological innovations. The healthcare system now focuses more on the consumers. This means a different approach to healthcare delivery and management.1 Healthcare providers and payers are now looking at new ways to deliver healthcare. There are now new stakeholders in the healthcare sector. Traditional players typically include insurers, hospital providers and governments. However, these new stakeholders come from outside the healthcare sector. They include telecommunications companies, banks, industrial and retail conglomerates.1 Healthcare provision and access, in many cases, is now a combination of digital and physical health services. For instance, telemedicine allows users to see a doctor online in minutes, instead of waiting for hours at a hospital. Other platforms such as e-pharmacy services allow easy pharmacy delivery to the users.1 Such arrangements reveal diverse career opportunities in the wider healthcare sector. These opportunities often go beyond traditional healthcare roles. Online healthcare delivery and virtual health platforms can offer many alternative healthcare jobs for health workers.
Declining interest in healthcare career
Healthcare careers are typically regarded as stable and rewarding. They often attract significant numbers of individuals. Some reasons for this appeal include job security and the opportunity to make a positive impact on people’s lives. Another reason is the potential for career advancement. However, in recent times, there has been a decline in interest in healthcare career. This is as a result of several factors. These factors include high workloads, burnout and exposure to infectious diseases such as COVID-19. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic was a traumatic time for many healthcare professionals. The pressure of the pandemic crisis took a serious toll on healthcare workers. Many healthcare workers left their jobs due to the physical, emotional and psychological impact. Some even left the healthcare industry completely.2 The experience of seeing many people dying in a relatively short time frame was also a problem. It contributed to the negative emotional and psychological impact of the pandemic on healthcare workers.2
The interest of job seekers in healthcare jobs has also declined. In some countries, this may be due to difficulty with licensing.3 Some healthcare professionals chose to remain in their health careers even after the pandemic. These workers still struggle with many problems. They include fatigue and burnout due to staff shortages. Others are making adequate childcare arrangements and attaining work-life balance. This means spending time with spouses, family and friends.2 These challenges have led many healthcare professionals to consider alternative career options.
Career future for healthcare workers
So, what are alternative careers for healthcare workers?
Healthcare workers have diverse skills that can be applicable in various alternative careers. This is due to their education and training. These skills include communication skills and time management. Others are organizational skills and compassion. Collaborative working, problem solving and effective listening are also important. The ability to resolve conflicts and to remain calm are some of the skills health workers have.4 These skills are also known as soft skills. They show an employee’s character and attitude. They are also beneficial for building and supporting working relationships. They are important for staying organized and supporting successful team work.4
Alternative healthcare jobs in Singapore as follows:
- Healthcare Administration: Healthcare administration involves the management of healthcare facilities and coordination of healthcare services. It also includes operations management as well as supervising staff. Health workers can apply their knowledge of the healthcare system in this area. Roles in healthcare administration include hospital administrator jobs and healthcare assistant jobs. Others are medical billing jobs, ward clerk or discharge facilitator jobs. Higher level roles include healthcare manager jobs, quality improvement director jobs and clinical manager jobs.4
- Medical Writing and Communications: Healthcare workers with strong writing skills can explore careers in medical writing. They can create content for healthcare publications, pharmaceutical companies, or medical communication agencies. They can also develop medical educational materials and regulatory documents.5 Jobs in this area include medical writing jobs, health journalist jobs, healthcare communications jobs and content creator jobs.
- Medical Sales and Marketing: In medical sales or marketing, workers promote and sell medical products, devices, or pharmaceuticals to hospitals, clinics, other healthcare professionals and institutions. Healthcare workers are able to use their expertise in this area. For those who enjoy networking and connecting with people from diverse backgrounds, medical sales and marketing is a field they can explore. Successful sales of medical products will involve building relationships with customers. It also involves communicating medical information in a clear and concise manner.
- Health Informatics: This field combines healthcare and information technology. Health informatics experts manage and analyze healthcare data, develop electronic health record systems, and work on projects related to healthcare data management and analysis.5 Jobs in this area include healthcare analyst jobs, healthcare data science jobs and healthcare tech jobs.
- Healthcare Consulting: Healthcare consulting jobs and medical advisor jobs allow healthcare professionals to apply their expertise to advise healthcare organizations, policymakers, or insurance companies on healthcare policies, management strategies, or process improvement. Healthcare consultants often handle multiple projects simultaneously. Therefore, they require strong project management skills, time management skills and the ability to prioritize tasks.
- Medical Technology: Careers in medical technology include biomedical engineering jobs, medical technologist jobs and jobs in medical device development. These roles involve designing, testing, and implementing medical devices and technologies.
- Health Education and Training: When healthcare professionals transition to health education and training roles, they can teach and educate others about healthcare topics, develop training programs, or work in patient education.4 They can also serve as health and wellness coaches and help individuals improve their health and wellness, provide guidance on lifestyle changes, and support behavior modification.5
- Public Health: Healthcare professionals can also work in the field of public health, focusing on population health, disease prevention, health promotion, managing outbreaks or developing policy. Public health professionals work in government agencies, non-profit organizations, or research institutions.6
The landscape of the healthcare sector is changing. These changes include technological advancements and new players from diverse sectors. They open up more career future for healthcare workers seeking new career paths. This is because the sector now has more non-traditional health roles. Healthcare workers possess a wide range of valuable skills that can be applicable in other professions. Recognizing these transferable skills can help them explore alternative career options. It is also important for healthcare workers who want a career change to consider their personal interests and passions. Choosing a career that matches one’s interests can lead to greater job satisfaction and fulfilment in the long run. Changing from a health career to a new one may require additional education, training, or certifications. The type of training will depend on the desired career. Having a healthcare background can provide a solid foundation for these transitions.
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1. Khetrapal S. & Landry M. (2019). Harnessing the potential of digital health in the WHO South-East Asia Region: sustaining what works, accelerating scale-up and innovating frontier technologies. WHO South-East Asia J Public Health. 2019; 8(2):67-70.
2. MedBlast (2023). An Industry in Decline or Opportunity for Change & Growth? Hospital Careers. https://hospitalcareers.com/blog/healthcare-industry-in-decline-or-opportunity-for-growth/
3. Winter V., Schreyogg J. & Thiel A. (2020). Hospital staff shortages: environmental and organizational determinants and implications for patient satisfaction. Health Policy. Volume 124, Issue 4, April 2020, Pages 380-388. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.healthpol.2020.01.001
4. Turin T. et al (2021). Alternative career pathways for international medical graduates towards job market integration: a literature review. Int J Med Educ. 2021 Apr 9;12:45-63. doi: 10.5116/ijme.606a.e83d. PMID: 33839694; PMCID: PMC8415394.
5. National Careers Service (2023). Healthcare. UK Government.
6. University of Nottingham (2023). Alternative Career Choices. Careers and Employability Service. https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/careers/students/graduatejobs/career-paths/medicine/alternative.aspx