Health Care: The Forever Career

by Barry Waldman

Health Care: The Forever Career

With a median annual salary of nearly $100,000 and demand expected to grow 21% through the rest of the decade, physical therapy is one hot career. But in the health care milieu, it isn’t all that unusual.

Health care professionals are among the most sought-after nationwide as the population ages. They are also among the most popular for graduate study because they are relevant, in-demand, largely recession-proof, portable and rewarding.

The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) offers graduate programs in all 13 of the top healthcare careers for 2022 that require graduate degrees. Several of those graduate programs reside in MUSC’s College of Health Professions, including physical and occupational therapy, speech-language pathology and nurse anesthetist.

Graduate degrees in healthcare administration

With an interest in health and wellness, Cokeitha Gaddist decided she wanted to advance her career in the field of healthcare administration. To obtain the additional education that would provide her with the operational expertise she needed she pursued her master’s in health administration (MHA) at MUSC. Upon graduation, she immediately landed an administrative residency that led to the job of VP of Operations at Colleton Medical Center in Walterboro, the first African American female administrator in the hospital’s history. The opportunity opened doors in her career as a hospital administrator at several HCA hospitals.

Encouraged by colleagues to pursue her doctorate, she returned to MUSC for the terminal degree in health administration (DHA). Dr. Gaddist now serves as the director of operations at MUSC’s Health & Wellness Institute.

Dr. Gaddist never had to worry whether there was a job at the end of her long and potentially expensive educational journey.

 “I am living my dream job here, marrying my passion and profession together,” she said.

Other MHA and DHA grads have reached the top of their professions in a variety of settings. Tony Coleman serves as president and CEO of Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa.

Healthcare careers in-demand and recession-proof

The contours of her story are familiar: graduates with rewarding and well-paying careers awaiting them. The College of Health Professions even offers fields of study that are probably unfamiliar to most, like cardiovascular perfusion and health informatics. These too are fascinating and remunerative careers, says Dr. Zoher Kapasi, dean of the College of Health Professions. He says perfusionists, who manage heart-lung machines, enter the profession making $125,000 and above, and are in more demand in the wake of Covid.

Health informatics is data science for health care and is booming because of the digitization of medical records and other aspects of the industry. Average annual salaries for these jobs of $70,000 don’t include the sign-on bonuses many facilities are now offering.

“Healthcare is one-sixth of our economy and employs a lot of people,” Dr. Kapasi said. “It is recession-proof so it is a much-sought-after set of occupations.” Average growth in demand for healthcare professionals is 9%, far outstripping the supply. Graduates of Dr. Kapasi’s programs are guaranteed to have jobs awaiting them upon graduation and likely for the rest of their careers.

Applying to MUSC’s College of Health Professions

In fact, MUSC can hardly fill the need. A little over 1,000 students are enrolled in the 13 academic programs, an average of fewer than 90 per discipline. MUSC’s perfusionist program is the second largest in the nation, with classes of just 29 students, ensuring that graduates will remain in demand for years.

These professions also provide a pathway for under-represented minorities to prosper: Roughly one in five of the College of Health Professions’ students belong to minority groups.

The graduate programs run a variety of terms and require a variety of educational backgrounds, besides a bachelor’s degree, but all of them are highly competitive. Application deadlines also vary by field of study, so those interested should visit the website.