America’s 10,000 hospitals have more than 1.7 million beds. As you’d imagine, a lot of those beds are filled daily. As the U.S. population ages and new types of flu are borne every season, those numbers are increasing dramatically. For those considering a career in healthcare, this is your reality.
Whether you want to become a surgical technologist, or you’d prefer a medical job without blood, hospitals offer a variety of roles designed to intrigue and fascinate even the most serious healthcare student.
Every job has its advantages and disadvantages and hospitals are no exception. But where can you find that insider information before working there yourself?
We spoke to the following healthcare insiders to help you in your search:
- Carly Stewart, medical expert and M.D. at Money Crashers Personal Finance
- Nick Angelis, CRNA, MSN and author of How to Succeed in Anesthesia School (And RN, PA, or Med School)
- Christine Tsien Silvers, M.D., Ph.D., chief medical officer at AFrame Digital
Of course, hospital size and the variety of jobs available have an impact on the pros and cons of working in a hospital. But it was our aim to provide knowledge you’ll find helpful as you decide whether or not to work in a hospital.
The Pros of Working in a Hospital
1. You’ll make an impact
Stewart says working in a hospital is rewarding and can give you a sense of pride. In fact, in 2011, an estimated 71,407,971 people were admitted to a hospital. So if you’re interested in healthcare because you want to help people, a hospital setting is the perfect place to impact the largest number of people.
2. You’ll have a stable job
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says, unlike most organizations, hospitals employ more workers during a recession. Angelis agrees that hospitals always need workers due to sheer patient volume.
So, maybe another advantage of working at a hospital might be that you’ll never have to worry about job security.
3. You’ll work as part of a team
Hospitals employ many different types of people, thus you will likely have to work with challenging personalities on a daily basis. Tsien Silvers says a “great teamwork mentality” is crucial for working in this type of environment.
4. You’ll have access to healthcare benefits and receive a good salary
Though salary depends on the facility, your job title and a number of other factors, all of our experts agreed it was a great perk of working in a hospital.
“If you look at the average salaries of various hospital jobs, you'll find that many are higher than those of even CEOs,” Stewart says. “Plus, you can often get an attractive healthcare package, which is excellent due to the high cost of healthcare in America.”
5. You’ll have a bustling (but clean!) working environment
You’ll have a stimulating work environment thanks to patients coming into the hospital 24/7/365. There will certainly be no time for boredom!
Despite the bustling atmosphere in most hospitals, they must remain some of the cleanest work environments because of their clientele. A clean hospital protects both patients and the hospital staff, making it easier for you to do your job properly.
The Cons of Working in a Hospital
1. You’ll be exposed to germs
Remember those more than 71 million people admitted to hospitals in 2011? They were, obviously, admitted because they were ill. The part that often gets overlooked is that hospital staff is exposed to those germs day in and day out. Luckily, the U.S. Department of Labor provides hospitals with standards and directives to help keep healthcare workers safe.
2. You’ll likely compete for parking
Less harrowing than being swathed in millions of germs, parking can be a legitimate concern when working at a hospital. “At my first nursing job, it would take me 10 minutes to walk from the parking garage to my unit,” Angelis says.
Most hospitals have lots or parking garages, but they’re not necessarily reserved for workers.
3. You’ll sit front row while patients struggle
Despite the best efforts of everyone involved, the reality is that some patients still struggle in a hospital setting and sometimes, they die. While hospice care means fewer elderly are dying in hospitals, death is still a reality with which healthcare workers must learn to cope.
4. You’ll be a part of a 24/7 workplace
If you work in a doctor’s office, you know what time the office closes and thus what time your day will end. It’s not like that at a hospital. Hospital work often comes with less flexibility in your schedule. It’s not uncommon for hospital workers to work long hours and shifts at night, on weekends, or over holidays.
“Because many patients stay overnight, staffing needs on the night shift and on weekends are often just as high in some patient care areas as during the weekday,” Angelis says.
5. You’ll work with a variety of patients
Personal safety is another drawback when considering a career in hospital healthcare. Hospitals serve a lot of people, and some may be mentally unstable or otherwise unreceptive to your help. In fact, about 26% of Americans struggle with some form of mental illness.
“There’s emergency department overcrowding, which leads to angry and frustrated patients, some of whom are loud and belligerent,” Tsien Silvers says. She adds that further harm could come patients who are intoxicated or clinically psychotic.
Sure, exposure to germs and unruly patients doesn’t sound very fun – if that’s all you consider. You also need to think about why you’re drawn to the healthcare field. Is it because you want to help people? If so, working in a hospital will give you the satisfaction of helping people daily, which can outweigh any of the drawbacks.
Before you can help others though, you need to decide exactly what kind of healthcare degree would be best for you. Explore your options with our “Healthcare Job Outlook” eBook.