Why Work in Healthcare?Posted on Sep 11, 2023
Working in healthcare presents endless opportunities for fulfilling work and career advancement, and is described by many as a calling. While the work can be demanding at times, each day healthcare workers use a combination of specialized training, medical expertise and compassion to impact the lives of others in their communities.
We’ve interviewed several healthcare workers to understand what motivates them and why they work in healthcare. Some common reasons between them include:
- • Job Stability & Growth Opportunities
- • High Career Satisfaction
- • Variety of Career Opportunities
- • Competitive Earning Potential
- • Leadership and Teamwork
If you’re considering a career in healthcare, you’re on the path to a meaningful profession! Use On Board Virginia’s job resources to figure out which healthcare career path is right for you.
Job Stability & Growth Opportunities
Healthcare work is a stable field with a consistent public demand. In fact, the need for healthcare workers is increasing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that healthcare jobs will grow by 13% between 2021–2031, which will result in an estimated increase of 2 million jobs. Emerging career paths and retirements will drive several positions.
Virginia, in particular, has a robust healthcare infrastructure that requires doctors, nurses, medical technicians, and administrative staff to run effectively. With that, growth opportunities are available at all levels based on experience and education.
When looking at her career growth, Ann Carter (ICU Nurse, LewisGale Hospital) explains: “I started in a CNA program (certified nursing assistant) in high school, I actually didn’t work in a facility as a CNA. I started college in a pre-nursing program, but due to financial constraints, I ended up in an LPN program which was probably the best thing that I ever did.
I worked as an LPN for about 12 years and then transitioned into a bridge program [at Dabney Community College], did my clinical [at LewisGale Hospital], and then started as an RN about 18 years ago.”
Certifications and associate degrees can be a cost-efficient way to pursue healthcare jobs while gaining on-the-ground experience.
High Career Satisfaction
What distinguishes healthcare jobs from other professions is the high report of career satisfaction. Most interviewed healthcare workers mentioned that being able to make a difference in their patients’ lives gave them a sense of purpose.
Marchett Jackson (Clinical Coordinator, Parham Doctors’ Hospital) says, “My passion for nursing started very young. I have always enjoyed helping people—doing things for others. It always pulled my heartstrings. It was something that I knew I always wanted to do.
“Unfortunately, life happened, and I didn’t go to nursing school until I was in my late 20s. That time was the perfect time for me. I always encourage people to go when they’re ready because nursing school is something that you need to be fully focused on during that time of your life.”
Izzy Pinsonault (Medical Oncology Nurse, Reston Hospital Center) calls healthcare work a vocation, noting, “The most fulfilling part of my job, in a weird way, is seeing the struggle of my patients. In that deep struggle, grace is bestowed upon each and every one of us. With that grace, you begin to grow, and that’s when you see the triumph of our patients.
“Seeing that triumph is probably one of the best gifts anyone can receive because it’s fulfilling for you to know that 1. you did a good job, and 2. you helped someone grow in a different way.”
Variety of Career Opportunities
Virginia’s healthcare sector offers a vast array of career opportunities, whether you’re interested in:
- • Direct patient care
- • Research
- • Administration
- • Medical technology
You can also specialize in niche medical fields to support in-demand healthcare services.
Davis (Speech Pathologist, TriCities Hospital) has led a varied career, having started in public schools before working in skilled nursing, assisted living, and even being an associate professor.
mentions, “I primarily work here with pediatrics in the outpatient clinic, but I’m blessed to be able to float over to the inpatient side and see our adult patients as well.”
Depends on your experience and education level, you might enjoy a flexible work environment based on emerging needs. Healthcare workers also focus on continuing education (CE) courses to maintain their knowledge and stay up-to-date on best medical practices.
Competitive Earning Potential
The average healthcare worker’s annual salary in Virginia is just under $60,000, with the range falling between about $44,000–$66,000 according to Salary.com. Healthcare support workers have a median annual wage of about $31,500 and can earn more through completing formal training programs.
The salary averages will fluctuate depending on your:
- • Location
- • Education and certifications
- • Experience
Some of the top healthcare career paths include:
- • Community Health Worker ($47,980 annual wage)
- • Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) ($50,800 annual wage)
- • Surgical Technologist ($52,610 annual wage)
- • Registered Nurse (RN) ($74,338 annual wage)
- • Nurse Anesthetist ($179,180 annual wage)
While some healthcare workers get started in medical school, others progress quickly through a combination of fast-paced certifications and hands-on training. Take advantage of medical scholarships and hospital funding to support your medical education.
Leadership and Teamwork
Working in healthcare often requires strong leadership and teamwork skills. Virginia hospitals emphasize these traits, encouraging professionals to learn from each other and challenge themselves to further their careers.
Marchett Jackson reflects, “My previous directors and my current director have really helped to form me in my leadership style. And, now, I have been able to help the other nurses on the unit. There is nothing more enjoyable to me than seeing the lightbulb go off in new nurses when they finally figure it out and feel comfortable in their daily work and tasks.”
Leadership comes from all places and isn’t strictly top-down. Ann Carter highlights her peers in her response: “I love my coworkers, whether it is other nurses in my unit or CNAs in other units. They are some of the best people I could ever ask to work with here.”
Explore In-Demand Healthcare Jobs in Virginia
If you’re looking for a rewarding job in an in-demand field, the Virginia healthcare system is the place to be. Medical jobs are stable with high growth potential, and healthcare workers are quick to praise career satisfaction and career opportunities.
Of course, the final piece in the puzzle is location! Not only is Virginia an advanced medical hub for research and patient care, but it’s also an affordable state with access to endless amenities.
Marchett Jackson shares, “One of the things I love most about Virginia is that we’re in a central location. You’re right in between the North and the South, so you can just hop in a car and go either way and in six hours you can be at the tip of North or South. We have a major airport. We have lots of good Southern food here in Virginia. Culturally, we have museums.
“We have amazing hospital systems as well. HCA has about five or six hospitals here. So whatever specialty you’re looking for, Richmond is a great location for that.”
Ready to see how fulfilling a life in healthcare can be? Explore healthcare jobs across Virginia!