Health Care Industry

According to Merriam-Webster's medical dictionary, healthcare is defined as "the maintaining and restoration of health by the treatment and prevention of disease especially by trained and licensed professionals." Here we will provide information for those exploring careers in healthcare distinct from the pathways of nurse, medical doctor, dentist, optometrist, veterinarian, or public health professional.

Healthcare includes the many opportunities which play a role in the maintenance and restoration of health by the treatment and prevention of disease especially by trained and licensed professionals. Allied Health professionals deliver health-related services including identification, evaluation and prevention of diseases and disorders; dietary and nutrition services; rehabilitation and health systems management. Healthcare and allied health professionals play key roles in the health of our communities; however, are very different from medical professionals (medical doctor, nurse, veterinarian, optometrist, etc.) which focus on the diagnosis of illness. Some healthcare and allied health positions require less education, training, and certifications, while others are similar in the requirements to enter the field.

Healthcare and allied health professionals are experts in their field or specialty and contribute to patient health directly or indirectly. Some function independently, while many practice as part of a larger treatment team.

Explore Careers

As you can imagine, there is no shortage of opportunities to get involved in healthcare and allied health fields. Consider how your interests more specifically connect to how you will support individuals and your community. The career options in healthcare are varied, and continue to expand as new advancements in medicine, science, research, and technology emerge.

Healthcare Administration and Management

Medical and health services managers, who are also called healthcare executives or healthcare administrators, plan, direct, and coordinate medical and health services. They have a variety of potential roles, but the most common include managing…

  • an entire healthcare facility
  • a specific clinical area or department
  • a medical practice for a group of physicians

Helpful Resources

For information about medical and healthcare office managers, visit:


An important question to consider in searching for opportunities is: In what type of organization would you like to work?

Common settings for health care and allied health professionals include:

  • Hospitals, including inpatient and outpatient services
  • Ambulatory health facilities, including private practices, clinics, and clinical laboratories
  • Nursing and residential care facilities, including community care for the elderly, mental health, and substance abuse facilities
  • School settings, including early childhood, primary, secondary, and higher education
  • Nonprofit, government, and human services organizations
  • Corporate employers

Because so many careers fall under the healthcare umbrella, it is critical to explore opportunities specific to your unique interests. Next, identify healthcare institutions in your geographic targets. Healthcare institutions offer internship and job listings on their website.

In addition, the following may be helpful in targeting employers:

  • HealtheCareers provides an extensive listing of healthcare employers, ordered alphabetically.
  • Modern Healthcare identifies the Best Places to Work in Healthcare.


Internship and volunteer experience in the health professions is critical to determining whether a specific role is the right fit for your skills, abilities, personality, and work values.

Due to rules of health information privacy and patient safety, the responsibilities in a healthcare internship may be restricted. Despite this, there are opportunities to gain hands-on and/or observation-based professional, clinical, and patient care experience through internship, volunteer, and research experiences across healthcare disciplines.


Breaking into the healthcare industry with an entry-level job can be a challenge because the positions are highly competitive. Internships are a critical component of translating the theory from the classroom into practice in "real-world" situations, and many employers expect entry-level candidates to have some form of relevant experience. As a result, one of the best things you can do for your career is to find an internship. These experiences strengthen your qualifications for graduate and professional school programs and full-time positions. In many cases, it is required that you accumulate a specified number of internship, volunteer, and/or shadowing experiences (or hours), in order to be considered. Not only can you learn by doing, but you can forge relationships with colleagues and superiors which will become useful connections for future opportunities. Building a strong network of healthcare professionals needs to be a key component of your search.

Continuing your education takes significant time and preparation. Many healthcare-related graduate school programs require specific academic coursework for entry (prerequisites), as well as some programs require that a certain percentage of this experience include direct patient care. Other programs will require research experience, professional experience (internships, shadowing experience), and some may prefer that you have worked in the field before applying.

Across the health professions arena, a certificate, Master's, or Doctorate may be required to become a practicing care provider, depending on your profession(s) of interest. You will need to conduct sufficient research to understand the differences among the degree pathways, the standards for degrees, as well as the direction continuing education is headed. Choose programs that provide the necessary accreditation to receive a certification or license in the field.

Report an issue - Last updated: 05/01/2023