The health care jobs you may not have considered
Even behind-the-scenes employees have a chance to make a difference in people’s lives.
Everyone knows the most visible health care professions — doctors and nurses — but the industry has a lot more people hard at work helping patients directly and keeping things running behind the scenes. Here are six cool health care jobs you may not have considered.
Although they’re best known for providing prenatal and birth care, certified nurse-midwives care for women from puberty past menopause, says midwife Meghan Eagen-Torkko. “State licensure determines the scope of practice and independence for CNMs, and in my state I can independently diagnose and treat illnesses, order labs, prescribe medications and admit patients to the hospital.” CNMs must have a master’s degree in nursing and pass a national certification exam.
“‘Midwife’ means ‘with woman’ in Middle English, and every day I get to be with women at their strongest and at their most vulnerable,” Eagen-Torkko says. “I get to use my research and analytical skills to provide evidence-based care, and I get to see how my patients’ lives and families progress and grow. I’m very lucky!”
Poison control professional
Shari Lemon has worked in poison control for almost 20 years, and is a nurse and certified specialist in poison information. To work in poison control answering the phone, you must be an registered nurse or pharmacist. Easier calls are handed off to poison information providers, who are the equivalents of certified nursing assistants and medical assistants.
Lemon says she likes the autonomy and the ability to help people without having to be with them. “I get to calm freaked-out parents as well as tell ER doctors what to do and look for in their OD patients.” Another benefit? She works two-thirds of her shifts from home.
Health care software manager
Sue Powell is a special health care program manager at Nuance Communications. “It’s one of those health care jobs that isn’t patient care, but it’s still important,” she says. Medical records administration has turned into a data management position, and as the profession expands, people are now working in health information management for prisons, clinics, veterinarians and other institutions that provide health care.
For several years, Powell was a lead on product management for federal health care, where she was responsible for building and selling products to help the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs manage its health information. She now works in a strategic account management role.
“Making a decision to work in health information management has given me a lot of opportunities,” she says. “It’s a great way to work in health care if you’re not interested in working with patients.”
People in these positions work with patients to help them move through the health care billing system and ensure they’re not overcharged. “Anyone can be one if they have the personality for it — you need to be patient and a good negotiator,” says Michelle Katz. If you’ve successfully negotiated down your own bills, it might be something to consider.
Katz says the bills she handles are usually very large, and don’t involve haggling over $500 here and there. She says she has negotiated a $210,000 bill to $2,500, for example. In addition, billing advocates must keep up on legislation related to medical billing, and a medical background is helpful.
Thought leadership communicator
Anna Vordermark is a senior manager of thought leadership communications at Premier Inc., which helps foster collaboration in health care environments. “Many health care professionals need help uncovering their clinical swagger,” she says. “They live and breathe innovative health care life hacks every day, but often don’t realize they’re doing something special.”
Thought leadership communicators coach health care providers in the best ways to broadcast their successes and “pro tips” to their peers. “Although health care organizations may be in competitive markets, the people who take care of patients are very transparent and generous with their best practices,” Vordermark says. “They just need someone with a marketing or communications skill set to help broadcast their information.”
She says “it’s a thrill to see hundreds of clinicians show up to a webinar, ask questions and learn from someone who has walked in their shoes. Thought leadership on that scale allows providers to think globally and care locally. It’s the coolest part of my job.”
Christopher Wendt is an attorney who works as an immigration counsel at the Mayo Clinic. He helps the organization bring in doctors, nurses, specialists and other experts from around the world to provide care or expertise to patients at the clinic. The job allows him to keep up his interest in international affairs, without having to travel too much. “With this, the world comes to me,” he says.
Health care organizations often employ or retain lawyers to deal with a variety of legal issues, Wendt says. These institutions need advice on trademarks, patents, regulations and employment as well as immigration.
Most of Wendt’s job consists of ensuring the clinic is following immigration law when bringing experts to the facility. Wendt says he enjoys his position because he gets to meet major international doctors and researchers who are doing important work.