Popular Health Care Careers

,By 2030, the Census Bureau reports that baby boomers will total 72 million people age 65 or older. The special health care needs of seniors, rising health care costs, a diverse population and technology are affecting the industry. Nursing opportunities abound.


Job Description

A certified nursing assistant (CNA) provides basic care under the direction of a registered nurse. They are found in clinics, home health agencies, long-term care facilities, intensive care units and doctor’s offices. In an article by Karen Pennington, Jill Scott and Kathy Magilvy published by the Journal of Nursing Administration entitled “The Role of Certified Nursing Assistants in Nursing Homes,” the authors concluded that “Issues important to CNAs revolved around basic motivational factors, such as job enrichment opportunities…and a sense of achievement.” CNAs provide 80 – 90 percent of care in nursing homes. Education & Training CNAs must complete training from a state-approved program. The coursework usually take one year and includes clinical instruction in a health care setting. Local health care departments provide a listing of approved schools. Certification Examination After graduation from a state-approved training course, students must pass the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP). The test has two parts – the written or oral portion and the skills section. The written exam consists of 100 multiple choice, nursing-related questions. See – https://www.asisvcs.com/publications/pdf/069912.pdf. The skills test will take place in a caregiving setting and requires a demonstration of five nursing-related tasks, e.g. hand washing, feeding, bathing, etc. Learn more about skills testing at –https://www.asisvcs.com/publications/pdf/079950.pdf Requirements

  • Must be 18 years old
  • Must have a high school diploma or GED
  • Must complete a state-approved training program
  • Must pass competency evaluation
  • Pass a criminal background check (varies by state)
  • Must be in good standing on the state’s Nursing Aide Registry

Salary & Career Outlook In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median pay for a CNA was $24,010.  Nursing aides, orderlies and attendants accounted for 1,505,300 jobs. The projected employment rate for 2010 – 2020 is 20 percent.


Job Description Medical assistants (MAs) work for physicians and other licensed health care professionals by helping with the treatment of patients. According to the American Association of Medical Assistants, the advanced practices of a certified medical assistant entail managing the compliance of federal, state and regulatory agencies, perform risk management and safety assessments, recruit and terminate employees, create Web sites and display leadership abilities through community health projects or board functions. Education & Training Coursework for professional training includes anatomy, computer applications, coding and insurance and medication administration. MAs must also complete unpaid, on-site work in a health care setting. Students should enroll in medical assisting programs that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Another respected accrediting agency is the Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Visit Caahep.org or Ams.abhes.org to find a program in your local area. Certification Examination The National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), an independent certification organization administers the National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) exam. Since 1989, they have certified over 350,000 medical professionals. The American Association of Medical Assistants grants certification. Some employers insist on certification and verify with the AAMA prior to employment. Contact the Certification Department at 1-800-228-2262 or email them at certification @aama-ntl.org. MAs are required to recertify every 60 months. Requirements Requirements for a medical assistant vary according to state but are generally described as follows:

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Successful completion of a NCCT-approved MA program during a 10-year period OR two years of  qualifying, full-time employment OR part-time employment as an MA within the last 10 years.

Salary & Career Outlook In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median pay for a medical assistant was $28,860.  MAs held 527,600 jobs. The projected employment rate for 2010 – 2020 is 31 percent. In the article “Promote Healthy Behaviors in Primary Care” published by The Annals of Family Medicine, Robert L. Ferrer, Priti Mody-Bailey et al discovered that “More extensive medical assistant training…will be necessary to improve risk behavior outcomes. MAs tended to make more referrals for at-risk patients than other team members.


Job Description According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Medical laboratory technologists (also known as medical laboratory scientists) and medical laboratory technicians [assistants] collect samples and perform tests to analyze body fluids, tissue and other substances.” Medical laboratory assistants (MLAs) earn their credentials through education, experience and certification. Their clinical laboratory duties are regulated by state and federal mandates. They also perform administrative duties and may have contact with patients. Medical laboratory assistants work primarily in laboratories under the supervision of chief technologists or hospital managers.   Medical laboratory assistants are required to have good analytical abilities and keen attention to detail. They must be able to work under pressure and display manual dexterity.  Because they work with minute substances and technical equipment, good vision and computer skills are mandatory. Education & Training Formal training programs for medical laboratory assistants are provided by nationally recognized agencies that accredit Medical Laboratory Assistant programs. Certification Examination Some employers require certification. Local State Departments of Health or Boards of Occupational licensing can provide information. Requirements Requirements for a medical laboratory assistant vary according to state but are generally described as follows:

  • 18 years old
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • State-approved training
  • Successful completion of certification exam

Salary & Career Outlook In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median pay for medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians was $46,680. They held 330,600 jobs. The projected employment rate for 2010 – 2020 is 13 percent.


Job Description The Bureau of Labor Statistics describes licensed practical nurses (LPNs) as providers of “basic medical care.” Job duties include assisting with bathing, inserting catheters, monitoring chronic illnesses and assisting with exercising/walking, etc. LPNs enjoy working with people and can stand for extended periods. State regulations dictate the scope of their jobs. Some LPNs are allowed to dispense medication or start intravenous drips. Based on location, the designation of licensed practical nurse (LPN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVNs) is used. LPNs and LVNs work under the direction of a registered nurse. Their employers represent home health agencies, long-term care facilities, intensive care units and doctor’s offices. Education & Training The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing defines a distance education course as an academic process in which most of the instruction occurs when a student or instructor are not in the sample location. Visit https://www.onlinelpnprograms.org/ for a list of online schools. A statewide list is available at https://www.licensedpracticalnurse.net/lpn-schools/. Your local state Board of Nursing also provides state-approved programs for on campus and online learning. The average cost is $700 – $2,500 per semester. Text books, uniforms and medical equipment have separate fees. Certification Examination Licensure in all 50 states requires the successful completion of the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses. The test is administered by Pearson VUE online. See –https://https://www.ncsbn.org/2011_PN_DetailedTestPlan_Candidate.pdf. Licensed practical nursing programs are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc. (ACEN). Formerly the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission, Inc. Visit https://www.acenursing.org/ Requirements

  • Requirements for a LPN vary according to state but are generally described as follows:
  • 18 years old
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • State-approved training
  • National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN)
  • Criminal Background check (varies by state)

Salary & Career Outlook In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median pay for a licensed practical nurse was $40,380.  LPNs held 752,300 jobs. The projected employment rate for 2010 – 2020 is 22 percent. In 2012, the combined total for licensed practical nurses and licensed vocational nurses was 269,050. In an abstract by Lynn Unruh published by the Medical Care journal in 2003 entitled “Licensed Nurse Staffing and Adverse Events in Hospitals” researchers discovered that “Greater incidence of nearly all adverse events occurred in hospitals with fewer licensed nurses.” Illnesses such as ulcers and pneumonia occurred in hospitals with a low percentage or nurses.


Job Description The Bureau of Labor Statistics describes registered nurses (RNs) as those that “provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members.” Registered nurses have a hierarchy that is based on experience. Nursing careers are greatly varied. Positions include case manager, certified nurse midwife, administrator, nurse anesthetist, nurse educator, nurse practitioner, staff nurse and director/CEO. Additionally, specialties include cardiac rehabilitation nurse, genetics nurse, neuroscience nurse, intravenous therapy nurse, etc. Education & Training A bachelor’s degree or an associate degree with relevant work experience is required. Your local state Board of Nursing provides state-approved programs. The average cost is $700 – $2,500 per semester. Certification Examination The goal of the American Nurses Credentialing Center, a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association is to promote the advancement of nursing. After meeting the eligibility requirements and passing the appropriate specialty certification exam, you earn the designation of Registered Nurse – Board Certified (RN-BC) credential. Requirements Requirements for RNs vary according to state but are generally described as follows:

  • Bachelor’s degree preferred
  • Successful completion of exam

Salary & Career Outlook 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median pay for a registered nurse was $64,690.  RNs held 2,737,400 jobs. The projected employment rate for 2010 – 2020 is 26 percent. An article entitled “The Registered Nurse Population, March 2000. Findings from the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses” by Ernell Spratley, Ayah Johnson, Julie Sochalski et al, researchers reported “The percentage of nurses receiving their basic education in diploma programs decreased from 60% to 30%, with the percentage completing associate degree programs increasing from 19% to 40%.”


Regardless of the position, nursing professionals are subject to the changing conditions in the industry. The National League for Nursing reports 10 trends. The top three trends are changing demographics and diversity, technology and globalization. Nursing staff are expected to work well with all levels of staff and patients from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. They should know Internet trends and demonstrate computer proficiency requiring digital applications. The 4th and 5th trends entailed patients that are educated consumers and patient complexity. Via the Internet and numerous offline sources, patients have access to medical information. Additionally, health care costs and policies were the 6th and 7th ranked trends. State and federal regulations affect the level and scope of services provided which can be costly. This factor largely impacts the patient’s experience The 8th trend was interdisciplinary education. Nursing is an art and a science. Nurses are expected to be knowledgeable about academic research applicable to their field. The 9th trend pertained to the nursing shortages and the 10th trend addressed advancements in nursing science. The Journal of Advanced Nursing published the article “Horizontal Violence: Experiences of Registered Nurses in their First Year of Practice” by Brian G. McKenna, Naumai A. Smith, and Suzette J. Poole that reported survey responses of nurses in New Zealand in 2000. The 551 responses reflected the stress incurred by first-year nurses. “Many new graduates experienced horizontal violence across all clinical settings.” Adverse conditions were marked by high absenteeism from work and the contemplation of leaving the nursing industry. Remedial strategies entail hospital administrators develop prevention programs and offering supportive services.


Nursing Associations & Resources The National Council of State Boards of Nursing, https://https://www.ncsbn.org/index.htm  list information for all states. The National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses, Nflpn.org, focuses on the advancement of LPNs.  They offer career opportunities, membership and continuing education. The National Black Nursing Association and the National Association of Hispanic Nurses offer loans and scholarships. Health care is comprised of many dimensions. Individuals who wish to excel in the field must be willing to undergo vigorous training to meet the needs of this industry that is ever evolving. Skilled nurses will find unlimited opportunities for career satisfaction and advancement.