Private Vs. Public Health Careers
While the majority of countries have a public healthcare system, we are seeing more and more two-tier systems where both private and public systems exist. In the UK, this is very much the case. Everyone has access to the NHS system but can purchase private health insurance as well.
While patients have choices now, so do healthcare workers. But are there benefits to working in private? Or is public healthcare the best choice for a career? It’s an important consideration if you’re just embarking on a health career.
Working in Private HealthcareOne of the benefits that drive many people to work in private healthcare jobs is that the pay is usually higher. Salary is a major consideration for many people and the salaries in private healthcare are often much more competitive than those in public health careers.
Staff and OrganisationAnother benefit that can be generalised to private healthcare is that the staff levels are more likely to be sufficient in relation to patient numbers. While overtime occurs in many careers – private or public – there are significantly more complaints of burnout and excessive working hours from the public side of healthcare.
In private healthcare, the management is also more likely to be organised and consistently implemented. On the other hand, in public healthcare the budgetary challenges that are common can affect the structural integrity and management of the business. This is, however, somewhat to be expected given the scope and size of public healthcare, which creates additional management challenges.
Career OpportunitiesDepending on the specific private healthcare provider and your area of health work, you may not have as many opportunities to advance your career in a private health job. Not all healthcare providers will necessarily offer the full breadth of services available through the NHS or your country-specific public healthcare.
Working in Public HealthcareOne of the main benefits to working in public healthcare is that its infrastructure is enormous. This means that even where you live in a small town, for instance, there is still likely to be public healthcare. This offers you more choices in terms of where to actually work.
A Chance to Learn and Do MoreGenerally, public healthcare is also very transparent and highly regulated, with a lot of opportunity for growth given the scope of what is covered under public healthcare. Another potential benefit is that you may work with a broader patient base, which can make it more challenging but also more rewarding.
Lower-income populations are not likely to have private healthcare. Income and education are associated with different health conditions and problems. But for the right employee, this can be seen as an opportunity to make a difference rather than a negative aspect of working in a public health career.
Choosing a Health CareerOne of the biggest challenges is to find the right health career. If you’ve made it this far, your next step is to think about whether private or public healthcare is right for you.
You are certainly not bound to any one sector but it is worthwhile to look at the benefits and challenges in each before making a decision. Hopefully, you can find a position in private or public healthcare that fulfills all of your expectations for a health career.