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Health Care Support Opportunities

If you have a heart for helping others and are interested in health care, consider an entry-level position as a home health aide, personal care aide or nursing assistant. Job opportunities are plentiful and with a high school education, on-the-job training and possibly testing, you will be ready to provide basic care and companionship to those in need.

Your mobile military life may make health care support occupations an interesting career path to consider for reasons including the following:

  • Quick entry — with a high school diploma and on-the-job training
  • High projected occupation growth of 41 percent between 2016 and 2026
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Opportunity to gain experience in the medical field
  • Self-employment possibilities

The three common types of health care support occupations include the following.

Home health aides assist people who are disabled, chronically ill or cognitively impaired. They often help older adults who need support. The median pay in May 2016 was $22,600 and many opportunities exist in this occupational field. Formal education is typically not required to start, but you must have a high school diploma. If you are working in certified home health or hospice agencies, formal training is required, and you may need to pass a standardized test.

As a home health aide, you will work at the patient’s home or in a care facility. Your tasks may include changing bandages, dressing wounds and applying topical medications, monitoring or reporting changes in health status or possibly providing personal care such as bathing, dressing and grooming.

Personal care aides assist clients with self-care, everyday tasks and provide companionship, often in patients’ homes or larger care communities. The median wage for personal care aides in May 2016 was $21,920, and the occupation typically requires less than high school or a high school diploma and on-the-job training. Tasks for personal care aides may include light housekeeping, laundry, dishes, meal preparation and providing advice regarding nutrition, cleanliness and household activities.

Nursing assistants provide basic patient care under the direction of a nursing staff to patients in hospitals and residents of long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. To be a nursing assistant, you must complete a state-approved training program and pass a competency exam for certification. The median annual wage in May 2016 was $26,590. Tasks for nursing assistants may include feeding, bathing, dressing and grooming patients, changing linens and moving or transporting patients.

Benefits and challenges of health care support occupations

  • Benefits may include flexible scheduling, an abundance of work, a chance to make a daily difference in people’s lives, quick entry into career field and self-employment opportunities.
  • Challenges may include setting emotional boundaries as you deal with the pain and loss of patients suffering or dying. Talking to management or coworkers or speaking with a counselor should help you overcome and move ahead. You may also have to stand for long periods or lift your patients as part of your job duties, but staying in shape and learning proper techniques should make the physical aspects of the job easier.

Finding employment

Health care support opportunities are available at hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities and with individuals in private homes. You may also find opportunities through a temporary or placement agency, particularly when you are new to an area.

Check for positions with Military Spouse Employment Partnership organizations interested in hiring military spouses including the following:

Professional organizations and networking

Consider joining a professional organization in your chosen field to gain a better understanding of current industry practices and policies and possibly continue your education through workshops and conferences. Networking with other professionals in your industry may help you find the connections you need to obtain an interview at your new location.

Read The Value of Professional Associations for more information on how becoming a member can help enhance your career. Joining an association can assist you in forming the network connections you may need to find employment.

Next steps

If you are considering getting started in a health care support position, review the Research Occupations tool on MySECO. Take the Strong Interest Explorer and Myers-Briggs assessments to make sure your skills and interests align with this career path. Investigate whether you are eligible for My Career Advancement Account Scholarship assistance and use the Scholarship Finder to see if money is available to help fund any classes or certifications you might need. If you are considering self-employment, be sure to visit the Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment section on MySECO. Call 800-342-9647 and speak with a career coach for assistance choosing a school, finding scholarship funding, searching for a job or overcoming challenges.

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