If you, like many others, are interested in healthcare and want to influence its future, a career in crafting healthcare policies could provide that opportunity. The National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) offers job listings for positions at state-level government and privately-funded health organizations. Jobs listed by NASHP are typically C-level, but the organizations listing the jobs also offer entry level positions that can help build a career in crafting policies regarding health care industry. In order to get a job developing policies affecting the health of millions in the United States and other nations, a combination of education, experience through internships, and networking is necessary.
Education and Preparation
Health policy organizations, whether they are government- or privately-funded, have a variety of needs for staff members with a broad range of educational backgrounds. Health care administration and public administration are two degree fields which qualify applicants for positions shaping health care policies. Other forms of education and experience preparing you for the career include becoming a nurse with an advanced practice specialty in health care policies and administration. Other degree fields that could qualify you to work in the field include the law, business administration and information science. The field of public health offers many degrees and career paths, one of which is focused on health care policies and administration.
Job and Employment Resources
NASP offers job listings for state health care organizations focused on policies. Other potential employers include county health organizations, regional health organizations and elected officials at the state and federal level. Private organizations, including non-profit health foundations, employ analysts, managers and researchers. Colleges and universities also research policies in health and medicine, offering faculty and research job opportunities. College and university counseling and alumni offices also maintain employment listings in the field.
Considering the size and complexity of the health care industry and the scope of health needs and specialized areas of research, the need for qualified professionals working on health care policies is growing rapidly. Internships provide an opportunity to gain experience and develop connections, especially in areas that can be difficult to access, such as the federal government. The U.S. Health Policy Gateway provides information on accessing internships at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Congress, research organizations and internships offering opportunities for diverse candidates. The Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) is a paid, competitive two-year internship with the Department of Health and Human Services that can lead to many future opportunities shaping important health policies.
Health care policies are in constant development and change at all levels of government, in the United States as well as internationally. Some forms of research involve the health care needs of special populations, from those who suffer from specific illnesses like diabetes or cancer, to women's health, low-income populations, or rural health. Research, analysis and development of strong policies that will improve population health and meet emerging needs is a demanding, specialized field that requires a high level of education, training and technical competency. Experts in administration, data analysis, public health and other forms of healthcare are all needed.