Pursuing a Senior Career in Health
The health sector employs more people than any other industry in Australia, offering skilled professionals a choice of rewarding career pathways. Evolving patient demographics and complex public health issues have created an increased demand for accomplished health care workers in recent years, providing advancement opportunities to those with relevant experience and qualifications.
Whether you’re shifting to a career in health care or you’re a veteran of the sector with advanced skills and knowledge, this overview of the industry will help you find a career pathway that fulfills both your professional and personal ambitions.
What Health Professionals Do
Health professionals deliver essential services focused on the overall improvement of physical and mental health among members of the public. From patient-facing jobs such as nursing and medicine to medical administration roles, health careers in Australia encompass both clinical and clerical settings.
Given the many challenges associated with providing health care to millions of people, public health jobs are extremely challenging and yet rewarding at the same time as you can make a real difference in people's lives. There are many essential qualities needed to cope with the demands of working in health care, especially as the industry continues to change in response to rapidly evolving patient needs.
Although the health care industry is broad enough to accommodate diverse personality types, individuals with certain traits may be more likely to thrive in public health settings. These are some of the character traits that could benefit aspiring leaders in health care careers:
- Empathy and compassion – Above almost all else, having the compassion to perform the role of caregiver is essential for health care workers.
- Interest in the human body – Being interested in how the human body works is crucial for those in clinical or allied health roles.
- Drawn to scientific studies – Health careers in research and clinical care often involve scientific research, making this area an integral part of many public health jobs.
- Organisational skills – Given the logistical complexities of delivering health care services, individuals in medical administration jobs require highly advanced organisation skills.
- Physical and emotional stamina – Public health jobs can be physically and emotionally demanding, requiring high levels of stamina from individuals.
For more information on what health professionals do, this industry snapshot offers an overview of job opportunities and the benefits associated with studying public health.
Key Career Pathways
There are many options to choose from when furthering your career in health. If you’re not sure how to navigate professional advancement opportunities in the modern public health landscape, consider these key career pathways:
Medical administration professionals (such as medical records administrators) are ultimately accountable for the effective delivery and management of health services. Requiring a highly diverse skill set, responsibilities may include supporting the administrative department of a hospital, developing health care policy, budgeting for the delivery of health services, and many other tasks related to the general management of health care. This career pathway is expected to experience very strong growth over the next 5 years according to Job Outlook.
Practice managers are tasked with handling the business side of a medical practice. They typically work for GPs, dentists, or allied health providers such as physiotherapists. Practice managers have a broad range of responsibilities, including recruitment and staff training, medical record management, bookkeeping and maintaining compliance with industry regulations. Job Outlook predicts strong growth in demand for practice managers, with around 17,000 job openings over the next 5 years.
Infectious Disease Control
Working in infectious disease control (known as epidemiology) involves planning and undertaking studies with the overall goal of preventing and treating contagious diseases. Given the rising prevalence of infectious diseases such as Covid-19, and their unprecedented impact on the economy, epidemiology is fast becoming a critical part of public health. According to PayScale, epidemiologists make $90,000 per year on average.
If you already have an undergraduate qualification or extensive experience and you’re unsure of why you’d need to enrol in further study, our article How Health Care Leaders Can Advance Their Careers in the health care industry with a Master of Health Administration offers helpful insights.
Changes to the Industry
There are many external forces shaping the health industry in Australia. These are some of the key drivers of change all public health professionals should be aware of when making decisions that could influence their career trajectory:
- Advances in technology – The digitisation of Australia’s health care system (through initiatives such as My Health Record) is allowing for easier information sharing and data collection.
- Rising rates of chronic disease – The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported that 87% of deaths in Australia in 2016 were associated with 8 chronic illnesses.
- Increased health care costs – Self-funded health care is costing Australians an increasing amount of money, with spending data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare revealing patients spent $3.9 billion on out-of-pocket hospital expenses in 2017-18.
Ongoing skill development is essential for keeping up with these industry changes and managing the associated challenges. The curriculum for the Master of Public Health and Master of Health Administration both feature course units that teach the skills needed to navigate the evolution of the health care industry.
Make informed career choices by following the latest industry developments with Monash Lens.
How will this career path relate to my personal growth?
Finding fulfillment and achieving personal growth is the key to thriving in any profession. As an industry focused on improving people’s lives, the health care sector provides an ideal setting for building a fulfilling career.
The demanding nature of health care careers doesn’t take away from how rewarding they can be. Health care workers help people in countless ways, making long hours and stressful moments worthwhile.
If you’re currently employed in a health care role that involves working outside of normal business hours, upskilling may help you secure a 9 to 5 position. Health care managers typically work normal business hours in more advisory roles rather than on the frontlines.
To ensure your career in health aligns with your values and ambitions, focus on your interests and specialise in that particular area. Whether you’re motivated by a desire to lead, social responsibility, a strong interest in medical science or something else, use that motivation as the driving force behind your career.