The healthcare industry is booming. In fact, it's one of the few career fields that rapidly hires despite the nation's dismal employment figures. Healthcare jobs are expected to grow faster than in any other industry. Over the next five years, more than three million new jobs are projected to be added as the large number of baby boomers get older, thus needing healthcare. The supply must meet the demand. Here are some of the more popular choices for healthcare careers and the educational requirements needed to successfully pursue them.
Plus, if you're going into the medical field, there are options to get student loans to help pay for the cost of college. You can look into the Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) Program and see if you qualify.
Most dental students will need a bachelor's degree before entering dental school. All applicants have to complete certain required science courses—like biology and chemistry. Majoring in a science like biology might increase the chances of being accepted, but no specific major is required to enter most dental school programs. College undergrads who want to apply to dental school usually have to take the Dental Acceptance Test (or DAT) during their junior year. Admission into a dental school can be competitive. They use testing—along with other factors, like grade point average and recommendations—to admit students into their programs.
In all nursing education programs, students take courses in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry, nutrition, psychology, and other social and behavioral sciences, as well as in the liberal arts. BSN programs typically take four years to complete. ADN and diploma programs usually take two to three years to complete. All programs also include supervised clinical experience. Many registered nurses with an ADN or diploma choose to go back to school to earn a bachelor's degree through an RN to BSN program. Another convenient—but no less challenging option—is to get your RN to MSN online.
Read about student loan forgiveness options for nurses here.
Physicians and Surgeons
Many applicants to medical school have a bachelor's degree and most have more advanced degrees. Although no specific major is required, all students must complete undergraduate work in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and English. Students also take courses in the humanities and social sciences. Some students volunteer at local hospitals or clinics to gain valuable experience in a healthcare setting. Medical schools are extremely competitive and most applicants have to submit transcripts, scores from the Medical College Admission Test (or MCATs), and letters of recommendation. Schools also consider an applicant's personality, their leadership qualities, and what extracurricular activities they are involved in. Most schools require applicants to go through an interview process with members of the admissions committee.
Applicants to physician assistant education programs already have a bachelor's degree and some healthcare-related work experience. While admissions requirements vary from one program to the next, most of them require two-to-four years of undergraduate coursework with a concentration on science. Many applicants already have experience as an RN or EMT before they apply to become a physician assistant. Physician assistant education programs usually take at least two years of full-time study to complete.
The opportunity for a successful and stable career in the healthcare industry is a very real possibility for those who are willing to put in the required work.