As the population ages, opportunities for careers in the healthcare field are growing. Baby Boomers, who number in the millions in Canada, are already considered to be seniors or are on their way to the designation. That being said, this group is definitely living longer than their parents or grandparents.
With age comes health concerns. A range of issues crop up as a result of stress, obesity, smoking and drinking and other activities Boomers engaged (or are still engaging) in. Yes, they are living longer, but are they healthier? Some studies noted that body mass indexes have increased over the past decades while it has been noted that some Baby Boomers are simply not moving their bodies at all in terms of exercise – both representing a reduced quality of health. In the end, the consensus is that living longer does not necessarily mean living healthier.
Chronic diseases are cropping up in the aging population and this means more people are needed in the growing healthcare field. The top five health challenges faced by Baby Boomers are: Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, depression and eye problems. This diversity in health concerns leads to a great range of diversity in healthcare careers.
According to Canadian Business two health care jobs in the top 75 of all jobs 2016 were health and community service manager, and health care manager. This is partially due to the fact that health care is having to shift to working with an aging population with differing health care needs and requires a different approach in terms of help.
These healthcare administration careers are increasingly moving outside the traditional doctors’ offices and hospitals into clinic, community and specialty environments as Boomers look to take more control over their personal healthcare needs.
There are a range of educational programs to help prospective healthcare job seekers gain education and preparation for these top growing healthcare careers. Two opportunities that align perfectly with the shift in need for patients and practices are healthcare assistant and medical office assistant.
The change to the way healthcare is delivered automatically creates a change in the healthcare environments making careers in healthcare much more attractive to those who may have originally overlooked the opportunities. By taking courses in the medical office assistant and healthcare assistant fields, individuals position themselves to be in high demand working in some of the best healthcare careers in places like naturopath offices, sports medicine, physiotherapy and rehab, eye clinics, specialist doctors’ offices, imaging facilities, community health program facilities, chiropractic offices, medical billing, transcription, assisted living facilities and many more exciting opportunities.
Obviously, work in healthcare no longer requires one to be a doctor, nurse or receptionist with the abundance of healthcare facilities assisting the population. For those who thought the excessive doctor or nurse education requirements excluded them from the healthcare field, this opens up a sea of options.
The majority of people working in healthcare do so because they want to make a difference in the lives of others. Consider the care aid working in a retirement residence. This individual has the opportunity to get to know permanent residents in a supported apartment building styled environment where “patients” are relaxed and content but need a helping hand. This could include assistance with prescriptions, dressing, bathing or one-off healthcare needs such as wound dressing or eye drops.
The family members of residents in retirement homes, and the residents themselves, have an expectation of a certain level of care and therefore, so do the administrators of these buildings. Obtaining a role in a retirement residence may come down to experience, but more often than not it’s about the right personality, the genuine desire to work with that operation’s residents and an education that gives a solid grasp of what the job entails and how to do it.
This is where the healthcare assistant education comes into play.
Programs that have been developed using the BC Health Care Aide (HCA) Program provincial curriculum as well as the HCA Program recognition Guide ensure graduates are able to meet prescribed provincial education quality standards as a health care aid in Canada. These are the basics many facilities expect care aid employees to have.
Of course the program doesn’t limit graduates to working only with the elderly. Other opportunities for healthcare assistants include working with a wide range of individuals, groups and families as well, in home support roles, special care units and even community care opportunities. In fact, even some pharmacies are looking for healthcare assistant program graduates to work as mobile medication team members. In these cases, where a patient can’t always manage their medications on their own, some pharmacies provide daily distribution services where a healthcare assistant would assist in ensuring medications are taken at the right time and in the right quantities.
For medical office assistants, the possible careers are equally diverse. Consider the growth in private medical facilities. Just like in standard practices, in private facilities individuals are needed to work with patients to make appointments, provide scheduling services for both doctors and patients, take patient information, keep patient records accurate and up-to-date, ensure billing is done properly and much more. Private medical operations tend to be holistic, team-oriented environments with positive work settings.
Not all education programs in these fields require the same enrollment standards, but some common needs for program entry include a high school diploma, minimum age of 19 prior to the program’s start, English language proficiency and completion of first aid training. It’s best to check with the school providing the education for a complete list of enrollment requirements.
Something else to be aware of is the level of flexibility possible in taking these courses. Depending on personal needs, it may be best to take the program full-time or part-time and not all education facilities offer this range of programming. There may also be an option in the campus locations offering programs for medical office assistant or healthcare assistant education.
The world of healthcare is changing in Canada as the population ages. With a diverse range of opportunities available, the new careers in healthcare are surprisingly diverse and in settings that are a far cry from the white walls and floors one used to imagine in the field. To get the best job opportunities, preparation through education is key and will ensure a greater likelihood of landing that dream job.