The Health Care Industry: Multi-Disciplinary Opportunities Leading to Careers in Health Care

By Griffin, Michael | Diversity Employers, February 1998 | Go to article overview

The Health Care Industry: Multi-Disciplinary Opportunities Leading to Careers in Health Care


Griffin, Michael, Diversity Employers


What is a typical day like for a health care executive? Gerard Michaels is one of the newest health care managers for one of the largest hospital networks in Austin, Texas. On any typical day, his calendar is filled with meetings with physicians and health care executives. He has to read and respond to 20 E-mail and voicemail messages from the previous evening, study ten new health care projects requiring information from him, oversee the daily operation of his own department, and report in writing on strategic planning for two proposed facilities.

Michael has a college degree in multi-disciplinary health care programming. This specialty is usually a part of a public health program. Most students think of public health programs as one strictly for doctors and nurses. But it is really one of the most dynamic and expansive fields with a wide range of multi-disciplinary opportunities leading to careers in health care. Michael himself has two years of graduate study, a one-year administrative fellowship, and participation in seven national health care educational conferences. He acquired his present position after networking with a hundred health care administrators, mailing over 200 resumes and five interviews. He is now one of a handful of African Americans in health care management. His organization has 5,000 health care employees.

Although health care is a multibillion dollar industry, and African Americans constitute a major patient population for many of the country's 5,500 health care facilities, only 16% of the nation's five million hospital workers are Black. Nevertheless, the viability of a career in health care for African Americans hinges on their ability to continuously elevate their skills and adjust to the daily mutations of a field that changes more rapidly than any other.

Trends of the Market

According to the Bureau of Census, the number of Americans 65 and older will increase from 31 million in 1990 to 40 million by the year 2010, a 29% increase in 20 years. The 85 and older age group between the years 2000-2010 will experience growth of 33.2%. As the average age of the U.S. population increases, the need for quality health care organizations and well trained care givers will increase. Because of this rapid growth, changes in the field are focused on where health care is delivered and how it is financed. These changes are being driven by an increase in the number of managed health care providers. Besides traditional hospitals and hospital systems, entry-level positions can be found in settings such as the following: home health care organizations, nursing homes, consulting firms, ambulatory care facilities, mental health organizations and medical group practices. Students unfamiliar with health care as an industry max, not know that every educational discipline is needed in most major health care organizations.

Medical Technology

As an advanced undergraduate students majoring in medical technology you should be looking at starting your careers in a large medical facility, probably one in a large city. You should definitely concentrate on your next step as soon as you start working in the field. Medical technology is a field that has been on the "chopping block" in health care, even though health care is expanding rapidly. Medical technologists are being looked at as four-year degree specialists doing work that two-year technology graduates from junior colleges or technical schools do well. So medical technologists with four-year degrees should be trying to get into the field through experience: a year or two of volunteer work at some hospital in their area. Even now, you should be thinking about graduate school. If von want to stay in health care, you will need a master's in business or health administration. A degree in one of these two areas will enable you to become a manager of a laboratory or a manager of a small outpatient facility such as a community health center or an ambulatory center in a larger network. …

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