If you want to be involved in the healthcare industry, you already know that you want to spend your life helping others. No matter what role in healthcare you choose, your profession will focus on helping people who need care in a variety of ways. This takes passion, commitment, and a call to this kind of work.
Many who feel called to healthcare don’t necessarily want to be doctors and nurses. Luckily, there are many roles in the healthcare field that involve helping patients without directly caring for their medical needs. These roles are crucial for the success of hospitals and clinics, and patients rely on these people to help them through the healthcare process. Health and human services is an excellent degree option for students who want to help patients but don’t want to be a doctor or nurse.
Learn more about six popular career options for students who are pursuing a degree in health and human services.
Patient Care Coordinator
A patient care coordinator, also called a “patient navigator,” helps keep the lines of communication flowing between the patient and their healthcare providers. They’re responsible for ensuring that a patient receives the best care possible. A patient care coordinator listens to patients and their families to make sure that their needs are being met. They can fill administrative roles such as maintaining patient records or more specific patient interactions like explaining medical procedures. They may work with insurance companies, doctors across specialties, and more.
Patient care coordinators may work in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and other medical facilities. Their specific duties will vary greatly based on where they work and whether they have specialized experience in a certain field. Patient care coordinators earn an average annual salary of around $93,460, but their salary can range from about $83,180 to $102,910 per year. Salaries for this position will vary greatly based on location, education, and years of experience.
Health Service Coordinator
Health and human services coordinators work between different medical units, insurance companies, and patients to help ensure that everyone is on the same page and understands what needs to be done for patient care. Health and human services coordinators may be called healthcare coordinators and are similar to patient care coordinators.
Health and human services coordinators have a more direct impact in specific medical situations, keeping track of vitals, working with pathologists in lab testing, scheduling testing and diagnostic processes for patients, working with emergency triage situations, and more. Healthcare coordinators earn an average annual salary of $43, 411 per year, with the highest-paid coordinators living in New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, California, and Washington.
Community Health Worker
Community health workers are the direct link between a community and healthcare professionals. They create and implement strategies to improve the health of people inside the community. They discuss health concerns with community members, educate their community about available healthcare services, collect data about their city or town, report findings to educators and health providers, provide counseling and support, create outreach programs, facilitate access to healthcare services, and more. For example, community health workers may help individuals apply for Medicare or Medicaid assistance.
The average yearly salary for community health workers is $46,590, with the bottom 10% earning around $30,440 per year and the top 10% earning more than $70,720 per year. The number of community health worker positions is expected to grow by 12% by 2031, much faster than the national average. There is a great need for community health workers to help people in countless cities and towns to get access to healthcare and improve their wellness.
Patient advocates ensure that patients see the appropriate doctors, that treatment plans are being followed, and that patients and doctors are on the same page about care. Patient advocates need to be prepared to directly listen to patients and their needs. They also need to be able to negotiate patient needs, rising concerns, and treatment plans. They often work with family members and caregivers to help everyone understand what a patient will be going through.
They may also research a patient’s condition to help them get all the information and understanding they need. Patient advocates may work with health insurance systems and answer questions with the billing department to ensure that everything is taken care of financially. They often work at hospitals, rehab centers, nonprofit organizations, insurance companies, and more. On average, patient advocates earn a yearly salary of $66,420. The bottom 10% earn about $48,548 per year and the top 10% earn more than $86,697 per year.
Health educators help individuals, communities, and populations improve their health. They are knowledgeable about public health principles and understand how intersectional factors like culture, race, gender, and socioeconomics affect health choices. Their mission is to educate individuals on preventative strategies that can help with conditions such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic illnesses. The typical job duties for a health educator may include developing educational materials and programs aimed at promoting healthy habits, working collaboratively with organizations such as public health departments and hospitals, advocating new policies related to public health initiatives in the community or workplace settings, leading educational classes such as cooking workshops or fitness classes, and measuring the effectiveness of individual program activities.
The average annual salary for health educators in the U.S. is $60,600, with a 12% projected growth by 2031.
Mental Health Counselor
Mental health counselors specialize in providing patients with counseling services such as psychotherapy, crisis intervention, life coaching, or substance abuse treatment. Counselors take the time to build strong relationships with their clients so that they can create an individualized plan that works to improve their overall well-being. They are essential members of a multidisciplinary team that works together to create the best course of action for a patient's holistic health.
These professionals provide practical and valuable resources on stress management and self-care to their clients to help them cope better with mental health conditions. On average, mental health counselors in the U.S. earn $48,520 per year, with about 43,600 new job openings expected each year.
Ready to Pursue a Career in Health and Human Services?
A health and human services degree will prepare you with applied sciences knowledge, as well as care coordination courses, that will give you experience working within the healthcare system and with patients.
If you’re currently a health and human services student or hope to enroll in this degree program, it’s important to understand what your post-graduation career options are. A degree from WGU is a great first step to a career where you can change lives, help patients, and give them a better and healthier future.