Careers in Healthcare – Understanding The Challenges

Understanding the challenges related to a career in healthcare.

With the American economy retooling and available jobs shifting to other fields, healthcare is often a place where some turn to start a second career.  Eager students enroll in the many schools that provide training for a new career in healthcare.  However something the programs do not prepare students for is the subjective service measures and undertrained management staff.  These two aspects can make changing to a career in healthcare very challenging. 

Healthcare like many other fields has gone through significant changes.  Consumer expectations have risen while funding for most areas of healthcare have been cut.  This is forcing the healthcare staff to do more with less.  Sound familiar?  It should becuase while many other parts of the economy have been forced to retrain and retool healthcare has not been spared.  The difference is with the baby boomer population using more healthcare services as they age there are plenty of jobs.  The question is how much money will there be to pay the salaries of those jobs.

Increasing demand, Decreasing Funding

In recent years many have flocked to healthcare to pay the bills.  The logic was sound.  Increasing demand should lead to increasing opportunity.  One thing folks didn’t factor is in the government.  All of healthcare is regulated strictly by the state and federal governments.  Most healthcare services are funded by these same agencies.  Making money in healthcare involves much more than providing the best service.  It also involves a substantial amount of compliance.  Without compliance, funding dries up and is even recaptured by the governing body. 

Another factor is the increasing cost of healthcare.  Because much of healthcare funding is provided by the government they have instituted a number of cost saving measures to stretch healthcare budgets.  some of these measures include Diagnostic Related Groups  (DRG), Minimum Data Set (MDS), Oasis, Mums just to name some.  As an employee in a healthcare organization you must follow these guidelines or the organization may lose money.  Thus organizations sometimes make policy decisions based on compliance rather than patient care.

In another effort to save money, government agencies often cut funding to one service model to fund another one that is determined to be more cost efficient.  An example of this is the cutting of nursing home funding in favor or more cost efficient homecare services.

These factors can sometimes make organizations unstable setting the stage for cuts in hours and layoffs.

Consumer Demands

The demand of todays healthcare consumer goes well beyond good healthcare outcomes.  They also want to feel good about their healthcare experience.  After many studies of consumer tendencies many hospitals have changed their facilities to give patients more of a resort feel.  Private rooms, massages, extravagant gift shops and restaurant style food service are a few of the amenities that have been implemented in healthcare facilities.  Unfortunately that type of expectation also exists for the healthcare practitioner.  A worker could provide excellent service to one patient and that same service could be unsatisfactory to another.  Many new healthcare employees coming from different fields have trouble adjusting to the subjective way service is measured by the consumer. Practionioners must understand how to handle consumer complaints and resolve service related issues.  They must also understand how to proactively prevent issues from occurring in the first place.

Undertrained Management

As demand for services increase and companies expand to meet the need, managers are needed to direct a new workforce.  This challenge here is that often companies often don’t have time to train these new supervisors with proper management techniques.  Most other fields have a management component built into there curriculum.  Healthcare training programs don’t have the same concentration on management skills so many healthcare managers have to learn on the job.  This can be very challenging to the new helathcare worker looking for clear direction.

In closing if you go into healthcare with the best interest of the patient in mind you will have a rewarding and successful career.  Just make sure before you enter this rewarding field that you eyes are wide open to the challenges that await. 

For more information on our ever changing healthcare environment visit:

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