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Home  > Article

Doing Good for a Living--at Break-Neck Speed

By Experience

What's it like working in the healthcare industry? Here's a quick breakdown of the culture.

The desire to help others motivates many health care professionals.

The health care industry is one of the most diverse in its employment of people from varying socioeconomic and educational backgrounds and lifestyles. While "culture" is largely determined by where you end up working, our insiders cited several characteristics as common to the whole industry:


The desire to help others motivates many health care professionals. Even when experiments fail, paperwork piles up, or the powers-that-be deny physicians' requests for services, humanitarianism pervades the health care environment. Professionals in this setting tend to be personable, outgoing individuals who value person-to-person communication as a means of building working relationships within a facility.

High status

Many of the positions associated with health care offer the opportunity to save lives, affect the course of a deadly disease, or provide support services like education. Many professionals endure years of training, and all dedicate themselves to years of hard work. The respect associated with contributing to a healthier society is something other industries can't provide.

Fast pace

Time is money, particularly in the health care industry. Keeping costs under control often means that professionals split their time between facilities, departments pool resources and share equipment, and a close attention is paid to every dollar spent. The rule of thumb is to get the job done as efficiently as possible. Care providers try to minimize patients' waiting time by scheduling appointments as closely as possible, which means that administrative and direct care staff members must work quickly during and between patient visits.

The Unpredictable Workday

For providers, the job requirements change with each patient. Researchers find new strains of disease and that shakes up their routines. New public policies and company performance reports drive workers to create new pathways to improve care. In this fluctuating industry, flexibility is a necessity. Many professionals trained in nursing, for instance, shift from patient care to administration or teaching. Many direct care positions are based on shift schedules, which in turn, require adaptable administrative structures and tight communication networks. Although health care professionals must stay organized and prepared, days rarely fall according to their plans even for administrators.


The health care industry relies on networks of talented people who communicate and work together. Teamwork is essential not only within a department (consider how many health care professionals interact during the birth of a baby), but also within and between organizations. A care plan can involve individuals from several specialty areas who must work together to take their patient through all of the stages in the healing process, from diagnosis to rehab. The marketing and communications department may be called on to promote new services developed by a particular specialist- something that requires close working relationships.

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