Q: Do I need good grades to get into a health care educational program after high school?
A: Not necessarily. Of course, to get into a top medical or nursing school, good grades and high test scores are essential. However, you can start your training for many health care careers in community colleges that require a high school diploma or GED; a high grade-point-average is not necessary.
Q: Will I always be able to find a job in my chosen health care career?
A: Probably. With the aging population, there will always be a need for intelligent, hard-working, well-trained health care professionals. If guaranteed employment is important to you, consider a profession such as nursing which has ongoing shortages. Look through the employment sections of newspapers to see what type of health care professionals are most in demand. Talk to people in health care about their experiences finding a job. Also, the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics website (http://www.bls.gov/oco/home.htm) has listing of many professions, the education needed, employment opportunities, and average salaries.
Q: Which health care careers will give me the greatest flexibility in terms of my work hours?
A: Careers that allow you to work in a hospital (nurses and nursing assistants, radiology technicians, laboratory techs, and respiratory therapists, for example) are usually the most flexible, since hospitals are open every day and need staff around the clock. When you first start in a hospital job, you may have to work the night shift and weekends. With more experience, you should eventually have more choice and flexibility in terms of the days and hours you work.
Q: I love to travel and would like to be able to work all over the country. What would be a good career choice?
A: Almost any health career would allow you to work anywhere in the U.S. However, each state has specific licensure requirements, so there is often a fee and paperwork involved when you move to a new state. You will have to prove that you have completed your education and are properly certified or licensed before starting any new job. There are many companies that place traveling nurses all over the country in short-term positions.
Q: What about working overseas?
A: Doctors and nurses are most in demand for overseas jobs in countries where there are shortages of these professionals. In some cases, these jobs are highly paid and the employer will pay transportation and moving costs. However, there is a greater need for doctors, nurses and other health care workers who will volunteer or work for low wages in developing countries. Organizations such as Health Volunteers Overseas (http://www.hvousa.org/volunteer.html) and Doctors Without Borders (http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/volunteer/) place health care workers in volunteer positions overseas
Q: Would I have to move to an urban area to get my health care education?
A: Not necessarily. Many community colleges and local colleges and universities have programs in nursing and allied health care. However, most medical and dental schools are located in urban areas.