We all know it’s difficult to get experience in the healthcare field, but it’s also necessary in developing a successful career. Worthy experience is more than just padding your resume. It’s also the need to have practical, hands-on experience that allows you to effectively expand your skill set.
Now that you’ve made the decision to gain a career in the healthcare industry, the first step is laying the educational foundation, then obtaining the critical experience you need. But how, you ask? Be prepared to work for free and get creative with your opportunities.
Understand What Kinds of Jobs are Available
Healthcare administration and healthcare management both have a variety of positions available. A simple Google search will give you a decent idea of what’s potentially available and the experience necessary. The industry is booming and job availability is expected to increase as much as 36 percent over the next several years, according to Penn Foster.
There’s also a laundry list of free online courses and seminars available to help you get a detailed understanding of what responsibilities are expected of you. Many major universities offer free online courses and some websites specialize in online education. These trainings and seminars are a great way to either get a head start on learning the basics or provide opportunities for continuous education.
Get as Many Internships as You Can
After you’ve got your first year of education under your belt, apply for internships. These will be invaluable to developing your career. Prominent organizations such as the Mayo Clinic and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offer many lucrative opportunities. If you can’t get one of those, contact your local healthcare provider or organization and offer to work for free— either during the summer or when you have time off from class. Classroom learning is valuable, but nothing can compare to putting theory into practice. Not only will you learn while doing, but you’ll forge many useful connections that can help you get a good job later.
Many of the largest organizations in the world are non-profit and are always looking for ways to seek out the next generation of healthcare administrators and professionals. Even if you have to put in some time as free labor, the end result will be valuable experience that you can add to your resume. Some prominent international organizations include: The World Health Organization, American Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and the Peace Corps.
Lastly, you should volunteer between internships, semesters or jobs. Even just a few hours a week will allow you to expand your network and gain experience. The amount and type of experience you have will directly affect how impressive your resume will be to recruiters.
Build Your Way to the Top
There are stepping stones that you can take to help you achieve your goals and build experience. For example, if your dream is to be an RN, you should get a nursing assistant’s certificate before trying for designation. Take your time to work your way up the ranks rather than leap from the beginner level to a level that requires significant industry experience and/or education. One benefit, you’ll improve your foundation and have more opportunities to add to your resume and help you reach and realize all of your healthcare career goals.
To find more and varied opportunities, contact your network connections and alumni association and professors. They might now about job openings before they’re posted or could introduce you to the hiring managers. You might also consider applying for a professional membership such as the American Association of Healthcare Administration Management (AAHAM), the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) or the Association for Healthcare Administration Professionals (AHCAP). These will give you even more access to training seminars and specialized job search engines.