Medical Employers and Practice Environments

The medical field is very diverse, and there are a wide range of employers and work environments available to job-seekers. If you're hoping to find employment in the healthcare industry, you'll likely find a good fit for your personality and work style among the many medical organizations, companies, and employers looking for quality staff.


Hospitals are the most common work environment for healthcare professionals, and typically what most people think of first when considering a job in the medical field. It's important to understand, however, that there is great variety among hospitals. Like other kinds of employers, every hospital will have a unique atmosphere, culture, and environment. Before accepting a job at any hospital, it would be wise to learn as much as you can about its specific features, characteristics, and policies first.

There are many different kinds of hospitals. Hospitals are classified by their number of licensed beds, ranging from as little as 10 in a small community, to over 1,000 in a metropolitan area. Different hospitals provide different services, and many specialize in certain areas such as trauma or cardiac care. Hospitals also differ by financial status (non-profit vs. for-profit), and by their ownership (corporation- vs. government-owned). There are also academic hospitals, military hospitals, and more.

There are many different kinds of professionals working at each hospital, both in clinical and non-clinical capacities. Some examples of clinical hospital jobs include: physicians (surgeons, ER doctors, etc.), nurses (CRNA, RN, CNS, LPN/LVN, etc.), technicians (radiology, ultrasound, surgical, etc.) therapists (physical, radiation, music, etc.), medical assistants, pharmacists, and more. Some examples of non-clinical hospital jobs include: social workers, accountants, executives, and administrative assistants.

Medical Offices

Many professionals want to work in healthcare, but find hospitals unappealing or intimidating. Often, these individuals feel more comfortable in a smaller, more intimate environment, and as such prefer working in a medical office. Another advantage of medical offices: they usually don't require as many evening or weekend hours as hospitals.

Medical offices may be run by hospitals as an external branch, or they may be owned and operated by a physician. As with other environments, every medical office is different, and will have a unique set of features and characteristics.

Federal and Government Organizations

A large number of medical professionals work for government organizations and agencies, in both clinical and non-clinical capacities. Many people who want to work in the medical field also feel a strong desire to give back to their country and help their fellow Americans. These individuals may find a medical role in a government agency to be a perfect fit.

Many federal agencies need qualified medical staff. Some examples of these agencies include: Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the National Institute of Health (NIH), Veterans Affairs, and State and County Health Departments.

Non-Profit Organizations

There are a large number of non-profit organizations throughout the nation, all of which are founded to promote a certain cause. Of these organizations, hundreds specifically work towards solving health-related issues and advocating medical causes. Some well-known examples of such organizations include: American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and American Nurses Association, to name only a few.

Rather than working for profit, these organizations exist to achieve a mission or fight for a cause. Many healthcare professionals find it very rewarding to work for such an altruistic purpose. However, non-profit organizations may sometimes struggle to raise funds to support their operations, and workers may be affected by this struggle. Many well-established organizations don't experience this problem; it varies by the organization.

Educational Institutions

Medical professionals are needed in all sectors of the education system, from K12 schools to universities, teaching hospitals, health centers, and university medical centers. Some common medical jobs at educational institutions include: school nurse, behavior therapist, speech therapist, audiologist, mental health professionals, school counselors, and medical school professors.

Military Organizations

All military branches (the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard) need qualified medical staff in their ranks. There are advantages and disadvantages to working for the military. On the plus side, it's quite common for the military to pay for your medical education and training, in part or in full. You'd get to work as a doctor, nurse, allied health professional, or pharmacist in any of a wide range of dynamic environments. On the down side, you must be willing and able to live anywhere the military needs you to, even overseas or in war zones.

Hospice Facilities

Hospice (also called palliative care) is the branch of healthcare servicing the most seriously ill of all patients. This includes terminally ill (near death) patients for whom all treatment options have been exhausted. The purpose of hospice is not to treat the illness itself--the illness cannot be treated. The purpose of hospice is to provide the patient with as much comfort, dignity, and independence as possible.

Hospice professionals must be very strong, emotionally, and very caring and sensitive. Hospice care usually takes place in the patients' homes, or on an inpatient basis. Examples of hospice jobs include: palliative care nurses, certified nursing assistants (CNA's), and physicians, as well as counselors, case managers, and social care.

Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care Facilities

Patients who are unable to care for themselves are placed in nursing homes or long-term care facilities. This may be the result of advanced age, serious illness, infirmity, or trauma.

Patients in these environments need assistance with most, if not all, aspects of their basic daily care, such as dressing, feeding, and bathing. These facilities therefore need a large number of assistants on hand to help with the many tasks of caregiving, many of which are quite labor-intensive. Nursing homes and long-term care facilities hire many different types of medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, administrators, pharmacists, and nursing aides, among others.

Healthcare Corporations and Companies ("Industry" Jobs)

"Industry" jobs refer to the many positions within companies and corporations which work with the medical industry, but which do not provide direct patient care. "Industry" jobs are almost exclusively non-clinical, and do not involve working with patients at all. Some examples of these kinds of corporations include: pharmaceutical distributors and manufacturers, healthcare consulting firms, healthcare information technology and software developers, and medical device and medical supply manufacturers.

These jobs support the healthcare industry, but are the same kinds of jobs found at any other kind of company: marketing, accounting and finance, supply chain, sales, human resources, engineering, and executives. These companies may provide services or products to the healthcare industry, such as consultation or equipment. These "industry" jobs are typically very consistent and reliable, even during periods of economic downturn.

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