Medical Degrees & Health CareersHow to Work in Health Care & Medicine

Become Team
Become Team
October 21, 2021

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Today, tremendous opportunities for career success and advancement exist within the health care industry, buoyed by increasing demand for services and a shortage of qualified professionals. There are projected openings across disciplines in both hands-on patient care positions and administrative occupations. The following guide explores the various degree and career paths in the health care industry, examines skills and credentials for success, and provides an overview of the employment outlook and earning potential for individuals interested in a health care degree and career.

Medical and Health Degrees and Career Paths

Dentistry

Medical

Nursing and Public Health

Medicine

Health care is one of the rare industries that actually grew during the Great Recession and is continuing to expand rapidly. Driven by increased demand spurred by an aging population and new health care legislation, the next decade is projected to be bright for qualified health care workers. Overall, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects 5 million new jobs in the sector between 2012 and 2022.

The medical and health sectors are divided into numerous specialty areas, offering prospective students the opportunity to pursue a diverse array of academic and career avenues. The chart below offers a snapshot of some of the major health disciplines and areas of practice.

MEDICINE DENTISTRY PODIATRY OPTOMETRY CHIROPRACTIC MEDICINE PHARMACY PUBLIC HEALTH
Cardiology Endodontics Primary Care Vision Therapy Diagnostic Imaging Clinical Pharmacy Epidemiology
Dermatology Orthodontics Orthopedics Ocular Disease Neurology Oncology Community Health
Radiology Pediatric Dentistry Geriatrics Family Practice Sports Injuries Nuclear Medicine Social Work

Besides field of practice, there are several professional directions to consider:

Health Care Administration:Health care administration focuses on the development, implementation and maintenance of policies and service delivery by health care providers and organizations. Health care administrators manage organizations such as private clinics, hospitals, home health agencies, nursing homes, and health systems.

Public Health:Public health deals with the research into and promotion of healthy behaviors and practices at the community to global levels. It covers a broad list of disciplines, such as health education, community health, epidemiology, child health, nutrition, environmental health, and infectious diseases.

Clinical Care:Clinical care involves providing hands-on care to patients and their families in various settings, such as hospitals, physician offices, dentist offices, mental health facilities or rehabilitation clinics. Clinical care includes support and laboratory positions, such as radiology technology and physical therapy assisting.

The degree and career paths below show options open to individuals seeking education and a career in medicine or health.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists provide anesthesia services to patients in a variety of health care settings, such as hospitals, surgical centers, plastic surgery offices, dental practices, and delivery rooms. As an advanced form of nursing, CRNAs are independent providers who manage a patient's anesthesia prior to, during, and after surgical or medical procedures. This process includes performing physical assessments, preparing for anesthetic management, administering and maintaining anesthesia, monitoring patient recovery, and following up with the patient's postoperative care. CRNAs must complete a graduate program of study that includes both clinical experience and classroom instruction, pass a certification examination, and meet professional requirements before earning a license to practice.

Education requirements
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or bachelor's degree in a related field
  • Master's degree from an accredited nursing anesthesia educational program
  • A current, active registered nursing license
  • At least one year of professional experience working as a registered nurse in a critical care setting
  • Successful score on the National Certification Examination
  • State license

Medical Assistant

Medical assistants are multidisciplinary experts that perform a range of administrative and clinical duties in different health care settings, such as hospitals, ambulatory care centers, rehabilitation facilities, or private physician offices. As important members of the health care team, medical assistants carry out tasks such as answering phones, scheduling appointments, greeting patients, or filling out insurance forms. Clinically, they may take patient histories, assist physicians during a physical exam, manage medical equipment or collect laboratory specimens. One of the fastest growing occupations (29 percent job growth),medical assistingallows for quick entry into the profession with a training program and certification examination.

Education requirements
  • Certificate, diploma or associate degree from an accredited medical assisting program
  • Pass the Certified Medical Assisting certification examination from the American Association of Medical Assistants OR
  • Pass the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) examination sponsored by the American Medical Technologists

Epidemiologist

The field of public health is concerned with improving the health of individuals, communities and families – locally, nationally and globally. Epidemiologists are central to this endeavor, responsible for conducting scientific research into diseases to develop solutions, devise preventative measures, and design ways to educate others. Within this varied practice, epidemiologists may work in diverse arenas, such as infection control, health policy, and disease management. An advanced degree (master's or Ph.D.) is required to work in the field and epidemiologists may choose to specialize in any number of areas (e.g. occupational disease, reproductive health, environmental hazards).

Education requirements
  • Bachelor's degree in any field with a background in mathematics and related science fields (e.g. biology, chemistry, physiology)
  • Master's degree in epidemiology from an accredited university
  • OPTIONAL: Doctoral degree in epidemiology from an accredited program (for individuals pursuing research careers)
  • Complete fellowship or externship program
  • OPTIONAL: Certification from the Certification Board for Infection Control and Epidemiology (CBIC) or Association for Professional in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC)

Home Health Aide

The quickly aging U.S. population and rising demand for homecare services has created robust opportunities for home health aides. With career growth reaching nearly 50 percent between 2012 and 2022, it is an exciting time to enter the field. Home health aides offer an assortment of supportive care services to patients in their own homes or in other settings (e.g. assisted living facilities.). These services range from assisting with daily living activities (e.g. bathing and getting dressed) to administering medications. As patient liaisons, home health aides are often the eyes and ears of supervising nurses and doctors, helping them to track a patient's care and update on their condition. Entry into the career typically only requires a high school diploma and on-the-job training.

Education requirements
  • High school diploma
  • OPTIONAL: Certificate from an accredited program in home health aide care
  • On-the-job-training

Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists are licensed medical professionals who treat oral diseases and help patients maintain good oral health. They perform dental examinations and clean patients' teeth by removing stains, plaque and tartar. Under the supervision of a dentist, they help manage patient care and treatment plans, take X-rays, and educate patients on proper oral hygiene techniques. A rapidly growing field, dental hygienists are expected to see 33 percent job growth between 2012 and 2022. Prospective students can enter the field relatively quickly, with a two-year degree and passing required written and clinical examinations.

Education requirements
  • Associate degree in dental hygiene from an educational program accredited by the American Dental Association
  • OPTIONAL: Bachelor's or master's degree in dental hygiene from an accredited program
  • Passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination
  • Meet state clinical examination and licensing requirements, such as a passing score on the ADEX Dental Hygiene Examination from The Commission on Dental Competency Assessments

Registered Nurse

护理是最大的卫生领域之一,在全国有超过270万注册护士。注册护士被授权在每一个医疗机构,如医院、专业护理机构和学校,提供和协调病人护理。他们进行身体检查,对病人进行评估,管理药物,为病人和家属提供咨询,并监督执业职业护士和执业护理助理提供的医疗服务。Nursing offers a spectrum of specializations (e.g. oncology, pediatrics) and opportunities to transition into advanced nursing practices (e.g. CRNA, AdvancedNurse Practitioner). An associate degree, clinical training and successful completion of a national examination are the common minimum educational requirements to employment.

Education requirements
  • Associate or bachelor's degree in nursing from an accredited institution of higher education
  • Passing score on the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN)
  • Meet state-level licensing requirements

Did You Know?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care occupations requiring a master's degree are projected to grow by 28.7 percent between 2012 and 2022, followed by associate degrees (25.4 percent), and postsecondary non-degree awards (22.3 percent)

Components of a Successful Medical and Health Career: Skills, Credentials, Tools, and Technology

具体的实践领域、专业和设置往往决定了医疗和卫生行业所需的技能。健康职业依赖于强大的科学知识和具体的实践领域,如护理、公共卫生、医学或药学等。然而,有一套共同的核心技能,所有卫生保健专业人员都应该具备。

Credentials

In order to practice, many health care professions require licensure, which is different from credentialing or certification. Licensing is the process of receiving approval from a regulating body to legally work or practice medicine in a specific discipline. Certification, on the other hand, is a voluntary designation that demonstrates an individual's knowledge, performance, or qualification within a discipline, task, or job.

医疗保健行业为临床和行政专业人员提供了广泛的认证选择。它们在不同的专业领域提供服务,包括心血管技术、医疗协助、营养、医疗账单、呼吸治疗、诊断成像和保健管理。以下是在护理、相关健康职业、医疗协助和卫生保健管理中可用的证书的简要列表。

American Nurses Credentialing Center

National Healthcareer Association

American Association of Medical Assistants

National Association for Healthcare Quality

National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Service (NAPNES)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that certification is often required by employers as it serves as an indication of the candidate's knowledge, expertise, and dedication to the field. Certifications typically have to be renewed on a regular basis and require continuing education.

Tools and Technology

Medical and health professionals use a variety of tools, most of which are specific to their specialty area and field of practice, whether the individual works in a clinical or administrative position, and the type of patient care. Below is an example list of tools used frequently in clinical care settings.

病人护理的协调——从管理到计费——主要是通过技术和软件解决方案来管理的。下面的列表提供了用于医疗账单、患者记录管理和临床护理组织的软件示例。

Medical and Health Career Salaries

The medical and health industry not only has some of the fastest-growing occupational fields in the country, but some of the best paying as well. The specialized nature of providing medical services, coupled with the increasing need for medical care has led to booming salary levels across almost every occupation. Of the medical and health careers categorized by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 72 percent pay an average salary of more than $50,000 per year, with more than half of those occupations paying at least $80,000 per year.

The best paying salaries are reserved for individuals with advanced or professional degrees who provide advanced levels of medical care – such as surgeons, psychiatrists, dentists, and optometrists. However, opportunities for a well paying career exist at all degree levels. Below is a list of some of the best earning medical and health careers, regardless of educational attainment.

Medical and Health Career Job Growth, Prospects, and Outlook

As of 2014, more than 12 million individuals are employed in medical and health-related occupations in the U.S., according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. And, health care employment will continue to gain a greater share of the total workforce in the U.S. By 2020, The Center for Health Workforce Studies at the University of Albany projects that 11 percent of the U.S. workforce (one out of every nine positions) will be in the health sector.

Did You Know?

Employment data from the BLS reveals the health sector should grow by approximately 30 percent in the 2010-2020 decade and 65 percent of the country's top 20 careers are in medical and health fields. There are three major factors driving this growth:

Employment data from the BLS reveals the health sector should grow by approximately 30 percent in the 2010-2020 decade and 65 percent of the country's top 20 careers are in medical and health fields. There are three major factors driving this growth:

  • Aging Population:According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of individuals aged 65 and over is projected to reach nearly 84 million, which is almost double the 43 million in 2012. The aging populace will require additional health care services, including preventative- and long-term care assistance.
  • Health Care Laws:The Affordable Care Act has altered the landscape of patient care, providing a greater percentage of the population with medical benefits – which means more medical visits and demand for services.
  • Advancing Technology:Some experts label it Health 2.0, a new era of medicine where technology and data are leveraged to improve patient care, patient-to-doctorcommunication, and patient health habits. Companies and the federal government alike are funneling money into health care IT – from digitizing health records to medical translation apps to patient data analysis.

The best opportunities are expected to be largely concentrated in the following service sectors:

  • Home health services:60 percent growth
  • Individual and family services: 54 percent growth
  • Outpatient, laboratory and other ambulatory care services: 45 percent growth
  • Office of health practitioners: 31 percent growth
  • Nursing and residential care facilities: 24 percent growth

Below is a list of the fastest growing medical and health occupations (2012 to 2022), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Occupation Growth
Industrial-organizational psychologists 53%
Personal care aides 49%
Home health aides 48%
Diagnostic medical sonographers 46%
Occupational therapy assistants 43%
Genetic counselors 41%
Physical therapy assistants 41%
Physical therapy aides 40%
Physician assistants 38%
Occupational therapy aides 36%
Postsecondary health specialties teachers 36%
Medical secretaries 36%
Physical therapists 36%

Source:Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational and Employment Wages

Related Occupations & Salaries: What You Need to Know

As noted above, the medical and health sectors are extremely diverse with career avenues available in clinical, administrative and research practices. The table below includes the educational requirements, salary and projected job growth for a selected list of health-related careers.

Hearing Aid Specialist

  • Job Growth: 25.2%
  • Salary: $43,010
  • Education and Training: High school diploma or equivalent; On-the-Job Training

Pharmacy Technician

  • Job Growth: 19.9%
  • Salary: $29,810
  • Education and Training:High school diploma or equivalent; Certification; State License (varies)

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

  • Job Growth: 22.1%
  • Salary: $35,900
  • Education and Training:大专学位奖;On-the-Job Training

Ophthalmic Medical Technicians

  • Job Growth: 29.8%
  • Salary: $35,230
  • Education and Training:大专学位奖;On-the-Job Training

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

  • Job Growth: 24.8%
  • Salary: $42,490
  • Education and Training:大专学位奖;State License

Registered Nurses

  • Job Growth: 19.4%
  • Salary: $66,640
  • Education and Training:Associate's degree; State License

Radiation Therapists

  • Job Growth: 23.5%
  • Salary: $80,090
  • Education and Training:Associate's degree; State License

Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians

  • Job Growth:29.7%
  • Salary: $38,370
  • Education and Training:Associate's degree; Certification and State License (varies)

Dietitians and Nutritionists

  • Job Growth:21.1%
  • Salary: $56,950
  • Education and Training:Bachelor's degree; Internship; Registration; State License

Athletic Trainers

  • Job Growth:21.2%
  • Salary: $43,370
  • Education and Training:Bachelor's degree; State License

Nurse Practitioners

  • Job Growth:33.7%
  • Salary: $95,350
  • Education and Training:硕士学位;State License

Orthotists and Prosthetists

  • Job Growth:35.5%
  • Salary: $64,040
  • Education and Training:硕士学位;1年实习;State license

Podiatrists

  • Job Growth:22.5%
  • Salary: $120,700
  • Education and Training:Doctoral or professional degree; 3-year residency; State license

Audiologists

  • Job Growth:33.6%
  • Salary: $73,060
  • Education and Training:Doctoral or professional degree; State license
Become Team
Become Team
Contributing Writer

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