Everyone’s role in the medical field is important, but front-line healthcare workers are essential. Allied health professionals including nurses, medical assistants, billing specialists and administrative professionals are the links between doctors and patients, without them, the system comes to a screeching halt. If you’re interested in working in a dynamic field where what you do matters, there’s never been a better time to become a front-line healthcare worker. It’s hard work but worth it.
What does it mean to be a front-line healthcare worker?
A front-line healthcare worker serves patients and helps other healthcare professionals do their jobs. Medicine is a team sport, remove key players from the field, and the game plan doesn’t work.
As liaisons between the community and the healthcare system, front line healthcare workers are the friendly voices on the phone, the helpful pros in the billing office and the knowledgeable hands that rescue patients in need. They’re the backbone of medicine.
Working on the front lines isn’t always easy. You’ll work with physically and emotionally vulnerable people, and if you’re a compassionate person, you can’t help but feel empathy. Health professionals are often the last person people turn to when they’re desperate for support, so you’ll need to be strong and dedicated.
But as often as you offer a kind word and a hand to hold, it will be returned to you. Both patients and peers can give as much as they take, and in the end, you can’t help but come out ahead when you’re looking after each other.
Why do we need more front-line healthcare workers?
The next twenty years will see the most significant expansion of healthcare in history. Seventy million Baby Boomers born 1945-1965 are retiring, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Thousands are allied health professionals, and employers are desperate to fill their positions. Simultaneously, these aging adults will become greater consumers of preventive health services in a society beset with chronic disease, straining the system when it’s least equipped to handle it. It’s a dual impact.
As the nation struggles to contain medical costs, greater accessibility to early care at the community level becomes imperative because it’s less costly to treat illness when it’s caught early. Physicians’ offices are taking the lead as care coordinators, trying to keep people out of the hospital. But expanded outreach requires skilled staff, and currently, the need outpaces supply.
The recent pandemic has also highlighted the growing demand for front-line healthcare workers. In an instant, need can rise without warning and catch communities unprepared. It takes a doctor at least eight years in college to graduate, so the strategy in a crisis is to give existing physicians greater support so they can spend more time with patients.
How to Become an Allied Health Professional?
Training for front-line healthcare workers is flexible. Attend full-time or part-time and choose from diploma or associate degree programs depending on your learning goals.
In-demand positions include:
Nurses (LPN & RN)
Nurses provide both direct and indirect care to patients across all healthcare settings, from hospitals to long-term care facilities. All nurses are considered professionals and qualify to sit for state licensing exams. But the type of license you can get depends on your education.
Registered nurses need at least a two-year degree, and the trend is moving toward requiring a bachelors. Licensed practical nurses can choose to get a degree or a vocational school diploma.
The good news for nursing students is that they can start slow and continue their education over time. If you have responsibilities and can’t afford to be out of work for years, you can start working as an LPN in a short period of time with a vocational school diploma.
Medical assistants manage both clinical and administrative responsibilities in a doctor’s office or hospital. Most are employed in private practices, but roles are expanding.
Enroll in an associate degree program or get a diploma. Full-time vocational school students can graduate in less than a year with the credentials to pursue certification.
Medical Billing and Coding Specialist
Medical billing and coding specialists work at hospitals, private practices and medical billing services. They coordinate with clinical staff to code and submit insurance claims as well as handle other financial aspects of medicine, from obtaining insurance authorizations to light accounting. Diploma programs can be completed in months rather than years.
Medical Office Assistant
Medical office assistants have a strictly administrative role. They handle front office logistics, from scheduling to data entry, paving the way for clinical staff to serve patients in the most efficient way possible. Getting a vocational school diploma is the most popular training option.
Benefits of Being a Front-Line Healthcare Worker
A career as a front-line healthcare worker is rewarding on many levels. Perks include:
Many jobs in healthcare require spending four or more years in school before earning a single dime. But allied health professionals can earn a diploma in less than a year. It’s a great way for adults looking for a career and furthering their education without being out of work too long.
Take classes full- or part-time and start with a diploma and work your way up to a degree. And don’t let the pandemic slow you down, many institutions are offering hybrid programs that can be completed mostly online.
If work is going to fill the greater part of your life, why not do something remarkable? Jobs pay the rent, but a career as a front-line healthcare worker is both exciting and personally fulfilling. It’s an ideal career for people who find meaning in helping others. In healthcare, days are predictable yet never alike, so the work never gets stale. You’ll meet new people, make lifelong friends, and at the end of a tough day, you’ll feel good knowing you made a positive contribution to the community.
Wanting a secure future isn’t selfish. As we lose more jobs to technology, it makes sense to ask how valuable the training you receive today will be in another decade? Higher education isn’t cheap, and as a student, you want to know your training will remain relevant.
As the medical industry grows, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates job opportunities for allied health professionals will skyrocket 15-percent in the coming decade. The future couldn’t be brighter. Few careers are as good of an investment as becoming a front-line healthcare worker.
Maintaining a well-trained, highly skilled workforce is a top priority in medicine, so taking advantage of continuing education opportunities is encouraged. Healthcare evolves at lightning speed. In a rush to offer the best care possible, new treatments are continually being refined and improved technology is always on the horizon. As a front-line healthcare worker, you’ll always have a front-row seat for the latest developments.
The public trusts medical professionals more than nearly all other occupations. Allied health professions have been around since the 1800s, and they share in that esteem. On the front lines, having an instant rapport with the public makes your job easier. Both patients and colleagues will respect your efforts and consider you a valuable member of their team.
A Team Environment
It gets lonely on some jobs, but providing top-quality healthcare requires a team effort. From nurses to medical office assistants, each member plays an important role. Yet staff collaborate, bringing their unique strengths to the table to benefit the patients they share. From teamwork grows friendships and camaraderie that will sustain you through challenging days. On the front lines of healthcare, you’re never alone.
Medical assistants, nurses, billing specialists and medical office assistants are the behind-the-scenes professionals who manage the many intricacies of healthcare so doctors can devote more time to patients. They’re today’s new front-line heroes, and we will forever be grateful.
Do you enjoy helping others? Ready to become a front-line healthcare worker? Because you are making the commitment to seek career-focused technical training and vocational education, we commit ourselves to providing you with exceptional customer service each step of the way. While we do not guarantee employment, we provide continuous career services assistance upon graduation from your vocational school program. Gwinnett Colleges & Institute is with you each step of the way!
Contact us today to learn more about becoming an LPN, RN, medical assistant, medical office assistant or medical billing and coding specialist at Gwinnett Colleges & Institute.