What is your opinion on healthcare careers? - Indecisive about what career path to take

KMullis's picture
Rank: Chimp | 5

I did my undergrad in chemistry and am really indecisive about what kind of career path to take.

Healthcare is my biggest passion because I love the idea of helping people directly but don't want to spend my 20s studying my ass off and living a medical resident's life. I'm considering nursing and physical therapy but I'm worried about the lack of money (the avg salary is ~70k). Nursing sounds fast-paced and exciting but dirty work, while physical therapy has better working conditions but is not as fast-paced.

The only reason I thought about going into finance is that I can support my current family one day (parents are low working class) but I have no background in it.

What do you guys think about healthcare careers in general? Do you think it's possible to combine healthcare and finance at some point if I realize I need to make more money?

Comments (16)

Nov 8, 2014

I couldn't imagine being a nurse, that seems truly awful. I would probably prefer manual labor to nursing. That being said, I'm not you and you haven't really given anyone here enough info to provide meaningful advice to you.

Nov 8, 2014

I don't think healthcare is a great field to do if your main goal is the money. The only place you make good money is being an MD and as you say that takes years post college until you're making any money and comp has been going down for years. Only the top surgeons and a few other select specialties make really good money any longer, or if you can move up in the hospital food chain and become something like the head of a department but at that point you're well into your career. You'll make absolutely solid money as a doctor but unlike a few decades ago you won't be the richest guy at the country club, it's more difficult to go out and open your own private practices (and make great money) and you'll be up to your eyeballs in debt at first. Do it if it's your passion, not because you'll become rich. If you think about the cost/benefit and time value of money and look at how many years and hours (interns/residents hours make analyst look like pussies, although I've heard like banking they're trying to change that) you work to become a doctor, how much debt you accrue and don't make any real money until you're in your 30's and then figure that if you were good enough to get into med school you were good enough to get into finance and consider how much more you'll make in finance, if your main desire is dollars, don't do medicine.

No real idea about nursing other than being around it. I have a few extended family members who are and it seems like it sucks. The higher paying nursing jobs-surgery, ER, ICU, etc-tend to have crappy hours and I don't know if you personally have, or a close family member has, been in the hospital for an extended period, but the nurses are literally elbow deep in shit, blood, and pee and are the front line for catching flak from the family. Unfortunately I've had both of my parents in extended critical hospital stays and, god bless the nurses, but there isn't a way in hell I'd ever want that life and career regardless of money. My dad was in the hospital after a massive stroke in one of the top brain trauma ICU's in the country and I was there with him for about 3 or 4 weeks and became friendly with one of the nurses. She was THE top of her game, had to degrees (not just a two year nursing degree, but it was something like Hopkins undergrad, UCSF nursing, a masters in another science from a tops school-she easily could have gone to med school) and she said she loved what she did but wasn't going to be able to do it much longer (she was probably in her young 30's) because the emotional aspect of it was too high. She made 6 figures (I forget exactly $120-150K?) but she was dealing with >75% death or permanent vegetative state patients and the families who were going through it too. And the blood, shit and piss. Like I said, god bless her for what she did for my dad and all of us, but I wouldn't do that for all the tea in China.

Physical, occupational and speech therapists (my wife's an OT and has tons of friends in these fields) make about what you've said. Little more depending on your patients focus (geriatrics tend to pay more than pediatrics) and your geographic location, and you can get into management and make a little more, but not much more. Pay seems to be comparable to nurses but you tend not to have the blood, shit and piss, and unless you're working at a nursing home, you also miss out on the death. And it's more or less 9-5. One of the upsides if you have a few years of experience and some business sense (and most of them do not at all) is that you can open up your own practice pretty easily, pick up state/local municipality contracts (varies greatly at the state level), hire on hourly/per diem workers and keep building, open up a clinic, then another and so on and build a pretty decent sized company. I know a few people who have done very well with this in various states. It's not a guarantee by any means but it can be done. This path may be possible in nursing or home health care nursing but I don't know on that front.

Physician's assistants seem to make decent money but I know nothing about them. But I believe you're income potential is capped.

When it comes to being an MD and transitioning to finance (in a Wall Street sense of finance), I know one guy in Boston who did it (healthcare related PE but I'm pretty sure he also got a top flight MBA somewhere along the line) and I know stories of others who are similar but I don't think they're very typical. The skillset is pretty different and after you've spent a decade plus in the healthcare field being taught to think that way I'd think it would be pretty tough to change your mindset into an investment mindset. I'm sure some of the consultants on here could tell you about MD's breaking into consulting. I have no idea though because I'm not a consultant.

You could get into healthcare management and become an executive at a hospital, insurance co, etc but I'd think if you want to help people, these fields would do the opposite of feeding that desire. But they can be very profitable. I used to know a guy who got a Wharton MBA with a healthcare management focus but that was about 15 years ago. Lost touch with him. I'm sure he's working at an insurance company figuring out how to deny claims at a high level as a senior exec.

Just my thoughts. Not an expert in the field by any means. Caught me home on a Saturday night watching my kids because the babysitter flaked on a 40th bday party so my wife went. If I didn't have 2 kids upstairs I'd be on my 5th sapphire martini, smoking a cigar in my underwear. Cherish your youth guys.

    • 1
Nov 10, 2014
Dingdong08:

Caught me home on a Saturday night watching my kids because the babysitter flaked on a 40th bday party so my wife went. If I didn't have 2 kids upstairs I'd be on my 5th sapphire martini, smoking a cigar in my underwear. Cherish your youth guys.

Hilarious.

Dec 14, 2014

Omg I just saw this. Thank you so much for the detailed reply. Funny enough, I actually decided to apply to OT schools in Canada!

I agree that medicine requires a lot of commitment and I don't even know if I can handle that kind of responsibility. I'm not the strongest person (physically and mentally) which is why I was reconsidering nursing. OT seems like a nicer fit for me although I'm a little sad that I won't be making as much as those ICU nurses or nurse practitioners.

If you don't mind me asking, what field of OT is your wife in and how does she like it??

Dec 14, 2014

Omg I just saw this. Thank you so much for the detailed reply. Funny enough, I actually decided to apply to OT schools in Canada!

I agree that medicine requires a lot of commitment and I don't even know if I can handle that kind of responsibility. I'm not the strongest person (physically and mentally) which is why I was reconsidering nursing. OT seems like a nicer fit for me although I'm a little sad that I won't be making as much as those ICU nurses or nurse practitioners.

If you don't mind me asking, what field of OT is your wife in and how does she like it??

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Nov 8, 2014

Thoughts on paramedic work? I'm testing with the Chicago Fire Department in a month. The work is a lot more stimulating that what I did at my internships, but money is money... and I could be making as much in 2 months as I would be 10 years into the paramedic gig.

But I have this vision where I live in Texas and the weather is gorgeous and I just save bitches for a living. And it's compelling... dig?

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

Nov 10, 2014

One of my good friends from HS recently started a rotation as an EMT/Paramedic-trainee. Personally, he says he likes it and wants to see how far it'll take him. However, from the handful of stories I have heard from him, see the above disclaimer on blood, shit and piss.

Dec 14, 2014

Become a dentist.

4 years of really hard school, no residency, no nothing.
Starting around 130-150k sometimes more if you're awesome.
By time you're thirty you'll be going 200k+ with 32 hours a week working.

"It is better to have a friendship based on business, than a business based on friendship." - Rockefeller.

"Live fast, die hard. Leave a good looking body." - Navy SEAL

Dec 14, 2014

you accrue a bunch of debt
don't start making money until you're (roughly) 30
lots of competition to get top specializations

I can't help but think that finance might typically be more rewarding given the opportunity cost, but it definitely depends. It's your call.

Dec 14, 2014
NickW1:

you accrue a bunch of debt

don't start making money until you're (roughly) 30

lots of competition to get top specializations

I can't help but think that finance might typically be more rewarding given the opportunity cost, but it definitely depends. It's your call.

rewarding in terms of financial gain? i don't think anyone will contest that. if you enjoy actually helping people rather than shifting money around and being rich, go with healthcare.

Dec 14, 2014

medical school is no picnic. you do 2 years of school full time, 2 years of rotations (shit pay & slave labor) then 4 years of residency (40-65k + 80+ hour weeks) and your exit depends largely on specialty and facility. it's very difficult to strike out on your own so know that you'll take a small paycut to be an "employee." dentistry is extremely tough, there are dentists everywhere if you're in a metro area, you're better off going to the suburbs or a rural area so you can have a monopoly.

that said, passion trumps money in my opinion. if you'd be miserable and rich or happy and middle class, I'd go with happy, you only get one shot at this life (religion notwithstanding), make it count. I know of plenty of people who did medical/biochem research and parlayed that to banking or ER, definitely possible.

I'd talk to some current residents to get the lay of the land before you start med school, and what I'll say about finance is you will have to enjoy it to put up with it early on. good luck

Dec 14, 2014

Physicians Assistant. PA school for 2 years and come out making over 100k at 24

Dec 14, 2014

You're being general about "healthcare", but specific about the healthcare roles. There's much more to healthcare than being a direct provider of healthcare (doc, nurse, pt) that can include "finance": reimbursement contracting, healthcare IT (RCM), provider consulting, etc...

Healthcare is my biggest passion because I love the idea of helping people directly

Although many healthcare/finance careers don't "directly" help people, a lot of what you do in these roles directly affect their coordination of care, the cost of their insurance, the use of therapeutics, etc... You're pretty damn close to delivering their quality of life "directly".

Nov 10, 2014

If you go medical stick to the ROAD (E) to happiness, even then it's a long and tough road to get there as @"thebrofessor" pointed out. Many medical professionals I've spoken with are very happy with their careers but aren't sure they'd do it again or aren't sure how they made it through. The economics of opening a dental clinic aren't great, just saying.

Most of those lower level (hierarchy not stigma) health care careers like dental hygienist, nursing etc, currently make 'good' money because of under-supply not value add. Which may seem like semantics but I assure you it is not. They also have a very low bar of entry, relative to MD at least, which means you can expect that under-supply not to last. It has lasted this long mainly because of how fast healthcare has been growing but that isn't a sustainable trend. That isn't the type of field you want to get into. On the other hand, doctors have a ton of schooling, training, lots of debt, not many people can do it and they definitely add value.

If your goal is to "get rich", I'm told go plastics, but that is far easier said than done.

Dec 14, 2014
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"It is better to have a friendship based on business, than a business based on friendship." - Rockefeller.

"Live fast, die hard. Leave a good looking body." - Navy SEAL