Careers in the healthcare industry are among the fastest growing in the country. It’s easy to see why. Our aging population places increasing demands on health care infrastructure, and we need to keep that infrastructure strong.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, among the 20 fastest growing careers over the next 10 years are nurse practitioners, medical and health services managers, physician assistants, and physical therapy assistants.

Additionally, more and more nurses and other hospital clinicians are willing to give up their stressful jobs, but not ready to give up healthcare.

Given the upheaval the pandemic has caused in healthcare, I have met many nurses ready to go into business as entrepreneurs. In fact, entrepreneurial opportunities abound in healthcare — and you don’t have to spend eight or 12 years in medical school to take advantage of them.

If you’re someone who wants to help improve health care and is ready to take on new challenges, whether or not you have a medical background, here are some potential ideas:

Private Patient Advocate

Obviously, this one is close to my heart. There are opportunities for patient advocates within healthcare organizations and as independent advocates. Independent patient advocates charge between $100 and $300 per hour and are paid by the patient. Patient advocates come from the medical field, but many join the profession after personal experience – an unpleasant hospital stay, medical error or frustration with a provider.


How to get started: Although there are no nationally agreed qualifications, there are college courses, programs and workshops. I recommend taking a good course and becoming accredited as a Board Certified Patient Advocate (BCPA).

I think some of the best patient advocates come from nursing because they already have extensive medical and hospital experience, but they need help starting a business. My next Nurse Advocate Entrepreneur course starts on November 9; for more information, visit nurseadvocateentrepreneur.com.

medical transcriptionist

Medical transcriptionists listen to recordings made by healthcare professionals, such as doctors, and transcribe them into correspondence and medical reports. Busy hospitals and medical practices outsource the work to freelance medical transcriptionists to handle the overflow work.

How to start: The basic requirement is an associate degree or certificate from an accredited medical transcription program. Several colleges in the Chicago area offer such programs; for example, Elgin Community College offers a one-year online self-paced program that prepares you to take the national AHDI Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) certification exam.

Medical billing and coding

It is one of the fastest growing fields in the allied health professions. The medical billing industry is extremely competitive. However, for the determined entrepreneur, there is always a good opportunity to earn $40,000 a year or more running a home medical billing service. There are also job opportunities.

How to get started: An associate’s degree or certification from a training program is required, and there’s the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS) certification exam. There is a lot to learn: diagnostic codes, medical terminology and health informatics systems.

well-being coach

Share your own healthy lifestyle habits. A health and wellness coach is a supportive guide who helps clients set health goals such as weight loss, improved energy levels and stress management. Health and wellness coaching is becoming popular. Therefore, if you consider yourself a health and wellness expert, starting a coaching business can be a great business.

How to get started: As with most health-related professions, certifications are required. You can find programs in nutrition, personal training, and other areas at local community colleges.

As I’ve learned, growing a new business takes time, energy, and money, so you can’t expect to be successful in any of these areas overnight. But opportunities abound, whether you come from a medical background or simply have a passion for helping people.

Our healthcare system needs you!

• Teri Dreher is a Board Certified Patient Advocate. A critical care nurse for over 30 years, she is the founder of NShore Patient Advocates (www.NorthShoreRN.com). She offers a free telephone consultation to readers of the Daily Herald; call her at (847) 612-6684.

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