Career Options in the Healthcare Industry
Here we take a look at the nuts and bolts of seeking employment and working in the various sectors of the health care industry. We stick to those industries and jobs that are generally available to graduates. As mentioned above, your options in health care are largely determined by your academic training. So we begin by providing a profile of likely openings based on academic degrees.
Bachelors degree (liberal arts)
For individuals with bachelors degree in liberal arts (e.g., economics, political science, humanities) the best bet in getting into health care lies in the consulting route. Consulting firms, regardless of whether they are focused on health care, recruit intelligent liberal arts graduates straight out of college even if they have little or no experience in the industries where they'll be doing their business. Consulting firms recruit undergraduates based on "consulting aptitude," broadly defined as the ability to approach difficult questions analytically and to produce data-driven, defensible answers. While they hire individuals majoring in almost every college major, they place a premium on those with the capacity and desire to work with numbers. Aside from consulting, liberal arts majors may find opportunities in pharmaceutical company sales, health policy research or managed care (particularly if they live on the West Coast).
Bachelors degree (science)
Individuals with undergraduate science degrees from elite private universities enjoy the same job opportunities as their other undergraduate counterparts described above, but a strong science background adds considerably to their possibilities. For example, study in certain technical fields such as chemical or biomedical engineering usually result in a host of research and development opportunities at technology developers. Even those whose science background is less technical and more tilted towards pure science (e.g., biochemistry or molecular biology concentrators) have sometimes very attractive opportunities in pharmaceutical companies. ~
MBA (no health care experience)
New MBAs with no health care experience often find jobs in similar venues as undergraduate liberal arts majors: consulting or financial services firms. While they come in with more responsibility and a much higher salary than undergraduates, MBAs without previous experience in health care are unlikely to be assigned to work exclusively within the health care industry. MBAs with a strong interest in developing health care experience should seek out opportunities as internal analysts or administrators for managed care companies, hospital or corporate health benefits offices. Other routes include finding work in the marketing offices of large pharmaceutical companies and physician groups.
MBA (with health care experience)
MBAs with previous health care experience have a range of options working in the health care industry or in related service industries such as consulting and public relations. Consulting firms often hire these individuals exclusively to work and develop new business among health care clients. McKinsey & Company hires individuals with substantial health care experience (either in consulting or industry) as "practice experts," a track separate from the more the generalist business analyst and associate tracks.
Depending on the nature of their previous experience, MBAs with previous health care experience join hospitals or hospital systems as junior administrators with the option of staying and rising the ranks within the institution?s administrative hierarchy. MBAs with clinical experience as physicians have the most lucrative opportunities: many of these individuals are called on to oversee and manage the intersection of financial and clinical processes as hospital quality administrators or managed care medical directors. ~
Health care graduate degree
There are a number of graduate degrees that focus exclusively on training individuals for the skills necessary in health care. These degrees range from MBAs or Masters in Health Administration (MHA) degrees that focus on health care administration to degrees focused on the science of epidemiology or biostatistics (Masters on Public Health, MPHs). MHA holders have traditionally been pegged as hospital administrators, although they are increasingly being hired as general business analysts or associates by hospitals or health care consulting firms. The best MHA programs historically have been at University of Michigan and Washington University in St. Louis. M.B.A. programs that offer concentrations in health care administration include big names such as Wharton and Kellogg, as well as University of Michigan and University of Minnesota.
Because they focus on public health and public policy issues, MPHs find the greatest number of opportunities in the public and non-profit sectors. However, there is no shortage of recruiting for MPHs among health care consulting firms or pharmaceutical companies with strong outcomes and epidemiologic research needs.