10 Types of Health Care Facilities for a Medical Career

Updated March 16, 2023

Two physicians work on tests, research and diagnoses.

If you're considering a career in health care, it's helpful to learn about the different kinds of health care facilities available. Understanding the services these organizations provide can help you determine which might be the best fit for you. You can use this information to determine what role to pursue and where you want to advance your health care career.

In this article, we list 10 types of health care facilities that employ medical specialists, including the main characteristics of each one.

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10 types of health care facilities

Here are 10 types of health care facilities you might work in as a health care specialist:

1. Hospitals

Hospitals offer a wide range of medical, surgical, psychiatric and social services to patients. They're often large organizations comprising departments that specialize in the delivery of different aspects of health care. The area you work in largely determines the nature of your work, which can vary across departments.

For instance, the pace of an emergency department tends to be more variable and fast compared to that of an orthopedic department. Each hospital and department are different, which is important when considering job prospects.

Your education and training can also impact your role in a hospital. Typically, the more training and education you possess, the greater your responsibilities and scope of practice are.

Related: 17 Traveling Jobs in Health Care

2. Clinics and medical offices

Clinics and medical offices usually specialize in one or more areas of medicine and offer outpatient treatment that doesn't require an overnight stay for patients. Clinics and medical offices vary in size and staff. These practices are either privately owned or a part of a hospital or a larger health care network.

These affiliations can affect the number of patients and the rules for referrals to other specialists. Some common clinics and medical offices are dental clinics, mental health clinics, community health clinics and physical therapy clinics.

Depending on the type of clinic, there may be multiple levels of clinical care providers. Your education and qualifications determine which roles you can work in, but some common positions are medical assistants, scribes, licensed nursing assistants, registered nurses and physicians.

3. Nursing homes

Nursing homes are residential facilities that provide 24-hour care for older adults or people with disabilities. These facilities provide generalized or specialized care for patients with physical or mental health needs. Generally, the illnesses and injuries treated in nursing homes aren't serious enough to require hospitalization but are too severe for home care. Some facilities specialize in different levels of treatment and care.

For example, in some nursing homes, residents live mostly independently and have on-call medical staff for emergencies. Other facilities provide constant care and supervision for people who need help to perform daily activities. The jobs in nursing homes range from custodians and nurses' aides to positions like nurse managers, registered nurses, occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists.

Related: 13 Nonclinical Health Care Jobs

4. Mental health and addiction treatment centers

Mental health treatment facilities offer general psychiatric and psychological care or specialize in one area of psychiatry. These institutions can provide inpatient and outpatient care, depending on the severity of patients' mental health needs.

Addiction treatment centers typically handle issues with alcohol and drugs. Professionals can also treat other types of addictions, like gambling, video game and shopping addictions.

Most of these facilities are at the discretion of local or federal funding, which can affect the pay scale and number of staff available. Staff members usually encounter high patient volumes and long working hours, but they often find great satisfaction and meaning in their work.

You may consider working in these centers if you're passionate about helping others overcome major life challenges. For instance, you can become a social worker or a mental health, addiction or substance abuse counselor.

5. Birth centers

Birth centers are health care facilities that specialize in childbirth. They aim to offer the mother and family a comfortable birth environment. Unlike hospitals, birthing centers don't usually have staff that readily provide obstetrics or neonatal care.

These services are often present in a labor and delivery ward of a hospital instead. For this reason, birth centers can be a good choice for scheduled pregnancies that don't have any known complications or risks.

Midwives and doulas commonly work in birthing centers and oversee the labor of the mother. Obstetricians may work in birthing centers and be available as a resource in the event of an unexpected complication. These facilities are good options for those interested in obstetrics in addition to the emotional aspects of pregnancy and childbirth.

6. Hospice care facilities

Hospice care facilities aim to improve the quality of life for people with advanced and end-stage illnesses, their families and their caregivers. Hospice centers differ from traditional health care settings because the goal of providers isn't to cure a patient's condition but to maximize their comfort through a variety of palliative care options, which help relieve pain. Additionally, hospice centers emphasize the role of family members by offering them support during the last stages of their loved one's life, including medical, psychological and spiritual support.

You can find many unique opportunities when seeking a career in hospice care. These include roles both in and not in health care, like clergy, nurses, physicians and certified nursing assistants. You may also consider pursuing other vital roles, like a counselor or social worker position.

Related: Health Care Skills: Definition and Examples

7. Dialysis facilities

Dialysis facilities are centers for people with kidney disease or other medical conditions that affect the function of the kidneys. These facilities offer dialysis, which is a medical procedure that filters patients' blood to maintain their health. Hospitals may also provide dialysis treatment to patients, but dialysis facilities can allow easier access to patients who require regular dialysis as part of their routine health care needs.

You can find many careers in dialysis, including clinical and technical paths. These positions include nephrologists, registered nurses, dialysis technicians and hemodialysis technicians. Your duties may involve setting up and adjusting dialysis equipment, administering anesthetics, monitoring dialysis, prescribing treatments, reporting about patients' physical and emotional health and educating patients. Essential skills in dialysis include communication, critical thinking and proficiency with dialysis equipment.

8. Imaging and radiology centers

These types of facilities offer diagnostic imaging services, such as ultrasounds, computerized tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs), X-rays and other specialized imaging tests. Many hospitals and clinics have this imaging equipment, but imaging and radiology centers offer a variety of tests and imaging services that doctor's offices may not. The availability of these centers can allow patients greater flexibility in scheduling their imaging appointments.

In an imaging and radiology center, you may work as a radiologic technologist, cardiovascular technologist, MRI technician or diagnostic medical sonographer. Factors that affect the income for medical imaging careers include geographic location, employer and level of experience.

9. Orthopedic rehabilitation centers

These centers offer rehabilitation to patients with issues related to their muscles and bones. They typically employ physical therapists who specialize in various parts of the body and can adapt to their patients' physical conditions. These centers may also employ orthopedics, which are doctors who specialize in bones, to assist with evaluations and consultations of patients.

Orthopedic rehabilitation centers treat a variety of patients with a wide range of injuries and mobility issues. These can include patients with athletic injuries, people involved in accidents and people with disabilities. In addition to diagnosing and treating orthopedic issues, individuals also help educate people on preventive care to avoid future orthopedic or musculoskeletal injuries.

Related: Why Work in Health Care? 8 Reasons To Consider a Career in Health Care

10. Long-term care hospitals

Long-term care hospitals specialize in providing medical care for patients with serious conditions who require constant treatment. These medical facilities differ from nursing homes because they aim to return people to living independently. Most patients who arrive at these facilities come from intensive care units after their conditions stabilize.

Long-term care hospitals employ a variety of staff to focus on patients' physical and mental recovery. These include nursing home administrators, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists, dieticians, wound care specialists, physical and occupational therapists and social workers.

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