When asked about their career choices, it is not uncommon for healthcare professionals to recount memorable patient experiences that helped inspire their career paths. Both positive and negative experiences can prompt individuals to pursue a career in healthcare. Although becoming a physician certainly has a direct impact on patient experience, there are a myriad of other careers in healthcare that play a critical role as well. It is important for future healthcare professionals to pursue a career path that fits their unique personality, skill set and professional goals. This is particularly important when considering advanced degree programs.
For example, a Master of Health Administration (MHA) is an ideal degree for someone who wants to make a difference in how patients experience healthcare from a broader systems perspective rather than a one-on-one interaction with an individual provider. MHA professionals are equipped with leadership ability, business decision-making skills and knowledge of current trends in healthcare delivery to ensure patients experience efficient and effective healthcare systems. For business-minded individuals who are interested in making the patient experience better by improving healthcare systems, an MHA is the degree most likely to facilitate a fulfilling career path.
On the other hand, a Master of Public Health (MPH) program is better suited to those who are interested in creating a healthier community or population by reducing illness, encouraging healthy lifestyles and developing community health programs. MPH training gives community leaders the skills they need to effectively influence preventive health measures and reduce a variety of illness. These efforts emphasize the idea that healthcare isn’t limited to a hospital or clinic setting, but happens in our homes, schools, workplaces and communities.
For those who already work directly with patients as a registered nurse, but wish to grow in the field, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) may be the best fit. The demand for MSN-prepared nurses continues to grow as the prevalence of complex medical conditions rise and life expectancies increase. MSN-prepared nurses have more autonomy and can make independent decisions about patient care, which makes them uniquely qualified to work in a wide variety of healthcare settings such as long-term care and rehabilitation centers. Infusing the healthcare system with skilled MSN-prepared nurses means more options for patient care outside of the hospital setting and a greater degree of control over one’s healthcare experience.
Healthcare in the U.S. is an ever-growing and changing entity that touches everyone’s lives. It takes innovative and diverse minds to ensure the patient experience remains a priority among all healthcare practitioners. The wide variety of career opportunities in healthcare allow individuals to leverage their strengths in helping to drive progress forward.
Julie Sweet is an editor of Healthcare Information for 2U.com.