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Like other metropolitan areas across the country, demand for new jobs in the health care industry are expected to be strong. Carlina Hansen, executive director of the Women’s Community Clinic in San Francisco, offers valuable expert advice to individuals interested in a rewarding career in health care.
What is your background in health care?
“I’ve been working in community health for the last 15 years, primarily as an executive director. I started at the clinic as a volunteer health educator in 1999. It was a great experience – working alongside passionate, engaged, community health leaders and advocates – helping to provide care for some of the most vulnerable members of our community. My experience as a volunteer set me on my path to where I am today. I hold a B.A. in international relations from UC Davis.”
What type of education is necessary to obtain a career in health care?
“There are many paths into a career in health care. At the clinic, we have over 100 active volunteers with varying levels of experience and diverse backgrounds and interests. Many of our volunteers – approximately 82 percent this year – go on to pursue degrees in health-related fields. I always like to tell people exploring a career in health care that there are many different areas to explore, in addition to becoming a provider. Some areas people might not think of as readily are health care informatics, administration, quality improvement and allied health professions. There are a multitude of ways to enter the field and to get there educationally. I encourage people not to just think about the profession, but to think about the path to get there and if you are excited about it. Education in your work should never stop as health care is rapidly changing and it’s important for people already in the field to keep up on current trends and issues through professional development.”
What advice can you offer to new job seekers?
“Talk to people you know who work in health care and have graduated from programs you’re interested in. Ask informed questions, demonstrating you have done your research. Write a mission statement and set short- or long-term goals. You will get a lot more helpful information this way and garner the respect of those you are talking to. The people you talk to could be your pathway to an exciting job, so use their time wisely. Find out about their work and their career path. If possible, talk to a wide range of people who work in community health centers and big hospital networks. Talk to doctors, nurses, medical assistants, clinic administrators, etc. Figure out what kind of educational path they took and what inspires them. Be humble, open-minded and honest with yourself about your goals and motivations. Are you driven to serve your community, to make money to support your family and to be at the front edge of a new field?”
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.