August 27, 2009
Hybrid health care careers blend medical knowledge with research, business or law
Special to NWjobs
Some 1,065 doctors and other medical staff provide award-winning care for fragile young patients at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center.
But far from the emergency room and a few miles from the hospital, health care recruiting specialist Mikke Lindblom is tending to an ailment troubling his entire industry: a shortage of specialists whose high-demand skills don’t fit the typical medicine mold.
“There’s a lot of complexity in filling these positions,” explains Lindblom.
Unlike many of the standard nursing, pharmacy or research positions filled by hundreds of local professionals, the jobs Lindblom and his colleagues are trying to match with candidates require a hybrid of skills that often involves a combination of experience and advanced study.
With support from a variety of skilled and trained staff, day-to-day nurses and physicians are the high-profile backbone of local hospitals.
Behind the scenes, meanwhile, hospitals and medical research center recruiters worry about of the anemic number of candidates for these lesser-known careers. In a heartbeat, Lindblom can tick off a long list of positions he and his colleagues need to fill: research coordinators, genetic researchers and regulatory analysts -- professionals with a law degree whose skills are necessary for drug testing, studies and more.
It’s an especially challenging search in Seattle, says Lindblom, where a world-class collection of treatment and research facilities are vying for many of the same top people.
“Between the U.W. and Children’s Hospital, and Fred Hutchinson and the Cancer Care Alliance, plus everything going on around South Lake Union, Seattle is a very exciting place to work,” Lindblom says.
Far from entry-level jobs, these hard-to-fill positions are often a hybrid of a health-care career and a research or business position that requires medical knowledge.
It is important to fill these jobs today -- and attract qualified candidates in the years to come, says Lindblom.
So what’s the solution?
There’s no one easy answer, explains Lindblom. But showcasing a variety of opportunities is a good place to start, he says.
“It’s about lifting the veil, so people can see what’s really going on in research, what’s really going on health care,” he says.
“If someone knows they want to be a lawyer, we want them to know they can be a lawyer in a hospital. If you want to be a nurse, you don’t have to be working on the floor; you can be part of any of the world-renowned studies going on right here in Seattle. You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in biochemistry to help eliminate disease; you can have an A.A. degree and be part of some life-changing research right here,” Lindblom adds.
At Children’s Hospital alone, the 3,973-member workforce includes 546 research specialists.
“Our hiring demand is not going down; it’s only going up,” Lindblom says. “We need to increase the awareness that a hospital is not just doctors and nurses.”
It’s never too soon to start, local health care recruiters agree.
What parents can do
-- Introduce children to the diversity of health care careers by encouraging a slate of guest speakers during elementary or junior high school career days.
-- Visit helpful career Web sites with children. Try the family-friendly Health Resources and Services Administration Web site.
What teens can do
-- Arrange a job shadow through a school counseling office.
What college undergraduates can do
-- Consult with college or university professors. Often the strongest conduit between local health care providers and students, these teachers can offer students guidance during classroom presentations or more personalized appointments.
What health care professionals can do
-- Volunteer to be a guest speaker at a local school, and become a potential mentor to future health-care specialists.
-- Make an appointment to meet with a hospital or research human resources specialist to inquire about career advancement and enhancement opportunities; some employers subsidize advanced study.
What anyone can do
-- “Scour the Web,” advises Lindblom. Look for local education programs at community or technical colleges, and independent schools including Pima Medical Institute and Everest College. Visit sites posted by local health care employers to observe trends in openings and demand -- and what skills and training are required.
This article was originally published in May 2008.
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