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What Is a Healthcare Provider?

Not to be confused with health insurance, a healthcare provider is a professional who is authorized to practice medicine and provide healthcare services as per the Code of Federal Regulations. The term includes doctors, dentists, psychologists, nurses, and medical assistants. These professionals work to improve patient health outcomes and the quality of care.

Healthcare providers typically need state authorization to practice. They may treat, diagnose, or provide general support for healthcare issues. Their healthcare careers can lead them to hospitals, clinics, and healthcare offices. They can also work for healthcare organizations and support groups.

Frequently Asked Questions About Healthcare

Is being a healthcare provider worth it?

Yes. Healthcare providers enjoy many professional benefits. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 16% growth in healthcare occupations between 2020 and 2030, twice as fast as the projected rate of 8% for all occupations. The median annual wage of $75,040 in May 2021 also exceeds the median annual wage for all occupations by more than $30,000.

Healthcare providers also help people live better and longer lives. They hold a respected place in society because of their importance and value to the community.

The best healthcare degrees prepare learners for their dream careers. For that reason, they can vary considerably for each student. At the bachelor's level, the best healthcare degrees provide access to the workforce and a solid foundation for further study.

For example, a nursing degree can lead to nursing licensure and employment, and master's training for nurse practitioner roles. Other bachelor's healthcare degrees include health sciences, public health, and biochemistry. Science degrees, in general, can also help graduates pursue graduate training.

The best healthcare jobs depend on individual goals and interests. In terms of demand and projected growth, the best healthcare jobs include nurse practitioners and physician assistants. The BLS projects 45% growth for nurse practitioners and 31% growth for physician assistants between 2020 and 2030. These fields also pay median annual wages that exceeded $120,000 in May 2021, nearly three times the median annual wage for all occupations.

The highest-paying healthcare careers depend on location, the employer, and the professional's experience. According to the BLS, the positions with the highest wages include physicians and surgeons, dentists, podiatrists, and pharmacists.

Physicians and surgeons earned the highest wages in May 2021, with median annual wages exceeding $208,000. In the same year, dentists earned $163,220, podiatrists earned $145,840, and pharmacists earned $128,570. The top 10% in each of these fields exceeded $208,000 annually.

The requirements to become a healthcare provider differ for every field. According to the BLS, some positions require a postsecondary nondegree award, such as a certificate or diploma. Others require an associate or bachelor's degree.

Most clinical positions require an accredited master's degree at a minimum, along with certification and licensure. Physicians, optometrists, podiatrists, physical therapists, and pharmacists need doctoral degrees. In addition to the degrees, these professionals need to complete extensive practical training under supervision.

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