Second-Domain Analysis of Sociology Jobs in the Healthcare Industry
There are a variety of sociology jobs in the healthcare industry. I have previously written about applied sociology and healthcare, such as using research to analyze implicit bias in pain medicine and applying medical sociology in healthcare policy and Beyond. While I have been able to professionally explore the medical field through a sociological lens, many of us do not have such first-hand experience, which is why the second-domain analysis is important.
In the world of applied sociology, we often talk about domains. A second domain would be an area or industry in which you are applying knowledge from your first domain (presumably, sociology). For an applied sociologist in training, conducting a second-domain analysis can be quite valuable in knowing the experiences and training needed in graduate school to prepare us for our future jobs in extra-academic domains. Domain analyses should include research into job prospects, necessary skills and experiences, and information about expected salary.
In this article, I conduct an abbreviated second-domain analysis focusing on the sociological skills required to find work in the current healthcare industry. Please be advised that I have limited my analysis to current corporate jobs in the United States, but this should give us a general snapshot of valuable skills.
Sociology Jobs in the Healthcare Industry
Without further delay, here are a few of the most notable sociological skills that are valuable to healthcare companies. To compile information on such skills, I searched the job postings at several corporate healthcare organizations in the United States. Those organizations include UnitedHealth Group, HCA Healthcare, Truepill, Ascension, and Christiana Care.
In this analysis, I only include job postings that explicitly state “sociology,” or sometimes “social science,” as an appropriate educational background for the position. One note about level of education is that most of these positions require a minimum of a BA or BS in sociology, but prefer an MS, MA, or PhD.
It is obvious that research methods are amongst the most sought after skills for sociologists in the healthcare industry. Whether it is quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-methods, health-focused organizations are looking for employees with sociological research methods.
Quantitative research skills specifically appear to be in high demand. A job posting for Associate Director Customer Insights, Primary Research at UnitedHealth Group asks specifically for a candidate with, “Experience in statistical and market research tools such as Qualtrics and SPSS.” The same posting calls for “7+ years of experience with analyzing data, including synthesizing data from multiple sources to tell a concise, compelling, strategic story and make actionable recommendations,” and “Experience with designing, implementing, and analyzing research studies, including identifying recommended actions to take based on results.”
Ascension has a job posting for a Sr. User Experience Researcher which is seeking a candidate with, “Strong knowledge of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies and their application, especially human-centered and design thinking methods,” and “Experience conducting ethnography, semi-structured interviews, focus groups, contextual field visits, workflow analysis, surveys, usability testing and human factors studies.”
Lastly, for quantitative research skills, a posting at Truepill for Program Evaluation Lead in Telehealth and Population Health mentions “proven expertise with designing observational studies and quantitative analytic methods” and “4+ years experience with SAS, R, SPSS, Stata or similar statistical software” as required qualifications.
A bit surprisingly, there are jobs in the healthcare industry that require substantive knowledge from sociology, even if that knowledge is not explicitly ‘medical sociology.’ HCA Healthcare currently has two examples, a Chaplain and a Manager of Military Affairs.
The current listing for a Chaplain states, “College or University Graduate of a theological seminary degree plan or one of the social Sciences (Social worker, psychology, Guidance and Counseling, Sociology) degree plans, Clinical Pastoral Education preferred,” as the candidates preferred education.
The Manager of Military Affairs position asks that candidates have “5+ years of experience in a corporate and/or nonprofit setting with demonstrated knowledge of familiarity with sociological, cultural, and transitional issues and needs of military service members and their families.”
There are surely sociologists in the realms of religion and the military who would qualify for these positions.
Teaching and Learning
We also encountered jobs where the ideal candidate has teaching and learning experience, especially in regard to equity and diversity. As an example a posting at Christiana Care for a Health Equity Education Specialist lists “subject matter expertise in health equity, diversity & inclusion, social justice and cultural competence” and “proven experience developing education/training material and facilitating sessions on health equity related topics” as requirements for ideal candidates.
As we conclude, I want to leave folks with a reminder that we have done an extremely simplified version of a second-domain analysis in this article. When assessing the experiences and skills you should acquire for your own sociology career in the healthcare industry, you should expand your analysis to include salary, non-profit, research-institute positions, or a variety of other jobs that were excluded here.
In my analysis, I found there were three categories of sociological skills that are currently sought after by employers in the healthcare industry; Research Methods, Substantive Knowledge, and Teaching and Learning. Quantitative research skills including competency in statistical analysis software are in demand, but there are positions seeking qualitative and mixed-methods skills. There were some surprising job postings that could qualify candidates with knowledge in the sociological substantive areas of veterans or religion, and experience teaching from a critical perspective also seems valuable.