Health Care Jobs That Desperately Need More Women

There is a monumental push to push more women into health care jobs — but the truth is that women already make up more than 78 percent of the health care labor force. This isn’t a misleading statistic; if you visit any hospital or clinic, you are likely to see an abundance of women at work: staffing front desks, maintaining administrative functions, providing nursing care, assisting medical professionals, offering social assistance and more.

The problem is that women aren’t well represented in all types of health care employment. In fact, the upper tiers of health care are filled with men.

When reviewing leadership positions, you’ll find that women:

* represent about 35 percent of doctors across the United States.
* make up just 34 percent of executives at top hospitals.
* constitute just over 12 percent of board directors within health care social services.
* claim only three top positions within all 46 Fortune 500 health care companies.

Health care would benefit greatly not just by having more women in leadership positions but also by having women in fields where they normally do not venture. If you want to shake up health care and access a higher-paying, more rewarding career, here are a few paths to consider:

Doctor and Surgeon

“Doctor” is regarded as one of the most prestigious careers available. It takes more than a decade of training to be able to practice medicine as a doctor, and doctors are highly respected and highly rewarded for their knowledge and skill. For nearly 20 years, women and men have pursued this career path in roughly equal numbers, but there is a significant discrepancy in how the genders are treated.

Female doctors are roughly twice as likely to suffer burnout early in their careers, and some sufferers drop out of medicine entirely. Less than 30 percent of tenured positions go to female doctors, and the rates of female department chairs and female med school deans are even lower.

It’s important that women apply to medical school, but it is also important that women support each other once they reach the real world. If you pursue this path, you should become a member of female physicians groups, participate in female mentorship programs and generally encourage your female peers.

Health Care Administrator

Doctors and nurses are busy saving lives, so they trust their health care administrators to run the business side of clinics and hospitals. Women make up a significant portion — over 70 percent — of health care managers, or lower-level administrators in offices and care facilities, but few rise to the highest reaches of the career ladder. In fact, fewer than 26 percent of hospital CEOs are female, and women obtain executive positions in the health care industry at half the rate of men.

Like doctors and surgeons, health care administrators command a substantial amount of respect, and they are some of the highest-paid workers in the industry — with the highest positions boasting income in the seven-figure range. As is the case with doctors, it isn’t an issue of getting women interested in involved in administration duties; rather, it is forcing health care organizations to place women in positions of power. Women can study health care administration in graduate school to gain enviable credentials, but you must support your female peers if there will be equal representation in this field.

Health Informatics

Health informatics is a relatively new field that relies heavily on data and analytics to link IT, administration and care to improve patient outcomes. Generally, informatics professionals organize and integrate health records, so health care providers have better access to the patient information they need to make health-saving decisions.

Unfortunately, because health informatics seems particularly technical, not many women are drawn to the field. Yet, health informatics is emerging as an incredibly important field in health care, so it is imperative that women gain equal representation here early on. You can become qualified for positions in this field by pursuing a master’s in health informatics. Then, you should work to encourage and support fellow women in informatics, to ensure everyone feels welcomed and championed.

EMT and Paramedic

First-responders have an extremely difficult job, often venturing into dangerous situations to rescue the ill or injured and sustain them until they reach a health care facility. These roles often function as the first steps on career paths to more prestigious medical professions, like doctors and health care administrators.

First-responders primarily male. However, unlike doctors, administrators and other health care professionals, EMTs and paramedics are largely male due to bias on both sides. The type of risk involved with EMT and paramedic work often dissuades women from entering the field; most female professionals prefer security and safety in their occupations. With greater female interest in first-responder roles comes greater acceptance of non-typical EMTs and paramedics, which means greater representation, better care and more equal treatment of all people.

Thanks to Jackie Roberson

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