Exploring careers in health care with any major

Recently, 75 students in majors ranging from Biology to English to Anthropology attended a panel and networking session on Careers in Health Care for All Majors. Our panelists from Neighbhorcare Health, King County Public Health, and UW Medicine had great insights on the range of job opportunities beyond being a physician, the challenges and benefits of working in health care, and advice for how to get your foot in the door. Here are some of the highlights:

When it comes to working in health care, major does not equal career. One of our panelists had a degree in journalism, another started out in accounting. Our third panelist had a degree in health sciences, but now does a lot of work in policy and management. There are entry level job opportunities for students in every major.

Health care organizations are like small cities. There are opportunities in just about every area you can imagine, including technology, customer service, sustainability and waste management, marketing and communication, social work and mental health support, policy, education, interpretation and translation, restaurant inspection, lab work, insurance, and fiscal services. Many entry level jobs just require a bachelor’s degree in any major.

It is an exciting time to be working in health care and Seattle is the place to do it. More Americans have access to heath care than ever before. Advances in medical technology have radically changed the field and things like smartphone apps give people more control over their health. Health care institutions in Seattle like UW Medicine and Fred Hutch are at the forefront of medical research and there is a lot of philanthropic support from organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for health related projects.

It is also a very challenging time for the health care field. Healthcare organizations need to think creatively about how to make health care even more accessible and there remain great disparities in access to care. While there has been a greater focus on the connections between race, poverty, and health, there is still a lot more work to be done. Health care is constantly changing and it can be difficult to keep up with all the new information.

How to get your foot in the door? Research and network! Start by reading the mission statements of health care organizations and see which align well with your own values. Consider which populations you are interested in working with. Do you want to focus on organizations that support underserved populations, children, the public at large?

Browse LinkedIn to find people working at health care organizations that interest you and reach out for informal conversations about their career path and experience.

Health care organizations often have tables at athletic events such as fundraiser walks or marathons so stop by, introduce yourself, and ask questions about the organization. Consider attending the Career and Internship Fair on February 15th which will have a number of health care employers. Check out HuskyJobs as well for health care jobs that just require a bachelor’s degree.

Part of the research process is figuring out what you do not want to do, so give yourself permission to try out many different things. Volunteering, internships, and temp work are all great ways to get a sense of an organization and may lead to full time positions.


By Caitlin Goldbaum
Caitlin Goldbaum Career Coach