What makes a career in healthcare more fulfilling?

Healthcare providers are the single largest employer in 17 states, outpaced only by Wal-Mart in 20 states.

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This story was written for our sponsor, Transitions LifeCare.

As the nation's population ages, healthcare continues to grow as a major career path.

Healthcare jobs already account for a healthy 9 percent of the country's total employment. In North Carolina, that ratio is even higher at 10.1 percent of total employees in the state, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
What's more, healthcare providers are the single largest employer in 17 states, according to 24/7 Wall St., outpaced only by Wal-Mart in 20 states.

"With so many people seeking healthcare careers, we wondered what attributes these professionals find most rewarding," said John Thoma, CEO of Transitions LifeCare. "We want to offer what's appealing to attract the best workforce."

Interviews conducted by R/P Marketing Public Relations with various healthcare professionals showed several common themes for feeling fulfilled. Participants included physicians, nurses, health aides, social workers and other positions in the healthcare field.

Here are traits those healthcare professionals find most fulfilling about their jobs:

  1. Feelings of truly helping others.
All professionals interviewed chose a healthcare career because they wanted to make a positive impact on people's lives.
Helping others overcome or cope with illnesses to improve their quality of life is consistently rewarding. Professionals who work in hospice care know they help patients and their families with end-of-life challenges, and provide comfort even when there is no cure. In addition, healthcare professionals said they love teaching less experienced colleagues to improve in quality, efficiency and compassion.
  • The ability to spend time with patients.
  • Quality care can be demanding on the provider's time. Caseloads can be heavy, often allowing only 15 minutes or so with each patient.
    Professionals interviewed expressed their most rewarding time can be when they aren't being rushed during their interaction with patients.
    One nurse summarized, "Care is best when you have a chance to individualize and talk to the person and find out exactly what they need from you that day."
  • Teamwork … and independence.
  • Most providers discussed their privilege to work as part of a team with each member contributing different skills, training and experiences.
    The most rewarding encounters are those when the worker feels respected and valued by their peers, rather than expected to simply follow orders. In fact, a strong sign of that trust is when a healthcare worker feels empowered to make decisions independently within the defined duties of his or her role.
  • Opportunities to advance.
  • Most healthcare professionals said they have plenty of opportunities to progress in their career.
    For instance, nurses may begin a career with a lower degree and keep building their credentials. In fact, many healthcare employers offer ongoing training and continuing education credits.
    Also, a person's focus can shift to better suit his or her interests. A home health aide might train to become a nurse; a nurse who started in direct patient care may find a passion for admissions.
    A wide range of scenarios exist for advancement, often from the same employer.

    Melissa Short, vice president of human resources at Transitions LifeCare, recognizes these same attributes are valued by their employees.

    "Our team members dedicate their careers to caring for patients and families during what is often the most challenging time of life," Short said. "They selflessly do this because they're making a difference in the lives of each patient and their family by providing care for the entire person, not just a disease."

    Short added, "This comprehensive care approach is successful because of shared teamwork, trust and dedication that comes from having professional disciplines working together to meet the exact needs of the patient and their family. It's hard to find a career more fulfilling than that."

    This story was written for our sponsor, Transitions LifeCare.

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