There are many benefits to a career in healthcare or the medical field. The massive industry offers a wide array of potential careers at all employment levels. Whether you want to be a physician or a nurse practitioner, have a certificate or medical degree, healthcare has a place for you.
In this article, we cover the factors you need to consider when thinking about a healthcare career. We’re going to explore things like the benefits of a medical career, information to help you evaluate if the medical field is the right place for you specifically, as well as some of the different kinds of jobs and careers available in healthcare and their education requirements.
Benefits of Pursuing a Medical Career
Careers in healthcare or the medical field offer many rewards, benefits, and growth opportunities. Healthcare is a thriving industry with a wide array of jobs suited for many different people, their skills, and interests.
Making a Difference
Staff in the medical field can change people’s lives daily and many of them choose to go into the profession because of a love of helping others. They are compassionate, kind, and find it easy to talk to people. Serving others is one of the main objectives of any medical job and motivates people to work hard and perform.
Whether you have earned a high school diploma or a doctorate, there’s likely a job for you in healthcare. The medical field has hundreds of employment opportunities with a diverse range of requirements. While some careers require years of school and on-the-job experience, you can start others with minimal education or training. Many, but not all, jobs require candidates to be certified or licensed.
High Earning Potential
Due to the high demand and sensitivity of the job, medical personnel is often well paid. The more skills, training, and education an individual has, the better they are usually paid.
Most employers offer good benefits to attract and retain the best workers because of the growing competition for qualified medical personnel. Typically, employees in this field should expect benefits such as health insurance, dental coverage, life insurance, vision care, paid sick time, and paid vacation. Additionally, some employers also offer training and reimbursement for higher education. This assistance is a great way to help employees advance in their healthcare careers and pursue advanced degrees, like a master’s or doctorate.
Is a Career in Healthcare Right for You?
Having read the benefits of a career in healthcare or the medical field, you might be thinking that a career in health sounds rewarding. And it is! That said, healthcare can also be demanding, so it’s a good idea to take the time to ask if this the right fit for you. Deciding what you want to do, even if you’re optimistic that you’ll thrive in the health field, can be challenging. With so many different careers, narrowing down the best job for your skills is often complicated and takes time.
Here are a few things to consider now that you’ve made it this far:
What is your motivation to pursue a healthcare career?
If you’re the kind of highly compassionate person, who likes helping others, or did well in math and science, or looking for a well-paying career, then a healthcare career might be a good option for you.
But, if you’re squeamish or uncomfortable in stressful situations, consider dipping your toes in before you leap into a healthcare career head-first. Medical careers are incredibly gratifying and often lucrative. Still, healthcare professionals often experience high levels of stress as this field also requires a lot of commitment to the job, endurance, and a well-developed work ethic.
How are you going to get education and training for your career?
When considering a healthcare career, learn about the different degrees, diplomas, and training required for medical jobs. Like being a doctor or a high-level nurse, some healthcare careers involve a significant investment of money and time. Consider your financial position, as many jobs in the field require at least some training, license, or certification, and how much time you have for completing the required course work.
If you want to be a physician but don’t have fifteen years to dedicate to the education and training required, consider other options such as s nurse practitioner or physician assistant. These medical scientist careers give you a lot of responsibility, and in some states, the opportunity to practice independently, but they typically do not require as many years of training as becoming a doctor. If you’re interested in a career path that does require an expensive degree, it’s essential to plan to save thousands on your tuition costs. Also, consider financial assistance available to you.
Healthcare jobs are in high demand. While you may spend anywhere from one to ten years in school or more, depending on the career, you can rest assured that there will be plenty of jobs available when you graduate. All you need to is find the field you’re interested in and get a solid education using your passion for helping others to find success in the medical field.
Take a look at the list below to learn more about all the types of jobs available in healthcare:
Types of Medical Careers
A certified nursing assistant helps a registered nurse or a licensed vocational nurse get through their daily tasks. A nursing assistant’s possible responsibilities include obtaining vital signs, checking blood sugars, assisting patients with basic needs, and administering sponge baths. Many nursing assistants find work in retirement homes, taking care of elderly patients. Some nursing assistants can begin work without formal education though it is often required.
Typically, medical assistants complete administrative tasks in hospitals or doctors. A medical assistant employee finds work with minimal training, though the highest paying jobs for this kind of work typically go to workers who have passed the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant exam and have taken classes at a medical assistant school.
Home Health Aide
A home health aide is responsible for assisting homebound patients with day-to-day tasks, including activities of daily living like bathing and dressing, as well as housekeeping and other chores. A home health aide may see multiple people a day or be assigned to live with a patient full-time.
Licensed Practical Nurse
LPNs provide basic nursing care in hospitals, long-term care homes, clinics, and other healthcare facilities. LPNs typically administer medicine, check vital signs, draw blood, and maintain patient charts.
Doctors or physicians diagnose and treat patients. Many work in hospitals, but they can also operate their own practices or smaller community clinics. Physicians can work in many specialties, like pediatrics, family care, oncology, and intensive care. Some go on to be surgeons. Most physicians spend ten years or more in college before completing a local hospital residency program. After several additional years of training, they can work with patients on their own.
Therapists and mental health counselors work with patients one on one or in small groups to help them overcome issues affecting their daily lives. Some therapists choose to specialize in certain conditions or a specific population, like obsessive-compulsive disorder, pediatric patients, or those with substance abuse issues. With a degree in psychology, therapists can analyze the cause of mental instability and suggest ways for patients to get past their symptoms.
Pharmacists dispense prescription medications. They work in both commercial pharmacies giving medication to patients and in medical facilities. They must have extensive knowledge of chemistry, anatomy, and physiology to determine if prescriptions will work well for patients’ medical conditions and pre-existing drug uses.
Emergency Medical Technician
EMTs care for patients in emergency rooms, ambulances, and other fast-paced medical environments. They must have a basic knowledge of a variety of medical conditions and work long shifts, including being on call, to respond whenever an emergency happens. Some EMTs work for fire departments and health care equipment distributors, but most find employment with hospitals and emergency medical clinics.
Dentists help their patients prevent problems with their gums and teeth and diagnose and treat them when they occur. Dentists can identify the most common oral conditions and provide treatment as soon as possible. Some of their responsibilities include filling cavities and pulling teeth, and others are qualified to perform dental surgeries in their offices. Dentists can either open a private practice or join with other dentists to form a group practice.
Surgeons perform invasive medical procedures on patients, usually to correct a medical condition. Surgeons can specialize in a wide range of fields, including cardiac surgery, plastic surgery, transplant surgery, reconstructive surgery, oral surgery, and so on. Surgeons may also work in hospitals or clinics or open their own clinics.
Educational Requirements for Different Types of Medical Careers
Healthcare and the medical field offer a wide selection of career paths due to their industrial scale. With so many options available, seeking a career in the medical field is often well suited to people in all walks of life. Whether you’re just starting or changing careers, healthcare most likely will have something suited to your work aspirations.
Notably, specific skills, education, licensing, and certification are often required to pursue a healthcare career but may vary considerably depending on the job.
For instance, candidates with bachelor’s degrees often qualify for an extensive array of positions in the medical field, including positions that provide hands-on or bedside care. As occupational therapist, nurse anesthetist, and other professions that are responsible for treating practitioners typically require a master’s degree. Doctors have the most extensive education, first receiving an undergraduate degree, then attending med school, then completing residency and fellowships before practicing independently.
However, other healthcare positions only require post-secondary education, non-degree awards (such as a certificate), which can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years to complete. The conditions mentioned above apply to EMTs, LPNs, LVNs, and psychiatric technicians. While other jobs like registered nurses, dental hygienists commonly require a two-year associate’s degree.
Medical field careers requiring high school diplomas are mostly administrative jobs like receptionists, billing clerks, and medical secretaries. There are also occupations within healthcare that require less than a high school diploma. These jobs often involve basic tasks such as cleaning, dressing, and bathing patients, as well as preparing and serving food.
Education Specifics & Medical Careers
For those considering a rewarding healthcare career in the medical field, we’ve compiled a list of education requirements and additional useful information for specific high demand healthcare careers. Nearly all healthcare jobs are in high demand, but some jobs have more openings than others. The following positions are considered the top five based on hiring demand.
Medical assistant jobs are some of the fastest-growing in the country, with an estimated 31 percent more positions available in 2020 than in 2010. Medical assistants perform various administrative tasks in a hospital or doctor’s office and can typically find work without much training.
Although those who further their training and education by attending medical training programs, have an associate’s degree in medical assisting and pass the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant exam on average earn a higher salary than those who do not. On average, medical assistants earn approximately $30,000 a year.
Home Health Aide
Home health aides generally assist homebound patients who are either disabled, elderly, or chronically ill with day to day tasks like bathing, dressing, or housekeeping.
Home Health Aides have various scheduling options based on their patients’ needs. For instance, they can travel between multiple patients, work full time with a single patient, or work in a full-time live-in position to provide around-the-clock care. Home health aides do not require any formal education and earn an average of around $22,000 a year.
Certified Nursing Assistant
CNAs perform a vital role in retirement homes, where they assist nurses with their duties that can range anywhere from taking vitals, preparing medical equipment, caring for elderly patients who are unable to perform tasks like bathing using the washroom on their own.
That said, some nursing assistant positions are available with little or even no training. However, an associate in nursing and who have passed the CNA exam is preferable. Nursing assistants make an average of $26,000 a year.
One of the less hands-on healthcare positions is working as a medical transcriptionist’s job, which still plays a vital role in doctors’ offices and clinics. Transcriptionists type out recordings from doctors to add to a patient’s file so other healthcare professionals can access the information. No formal training is required, but medical transcription training at a trade school or technical college can be advantageous. Medical transcriptionists earn around $35,000 a year on average.
Licensed Practical Nurse
LPNs provide basic nursing care in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities. They are typically in charge of delivering pills and other medications, drawing blood, checking vital signs, and maintaining patients’ charts, though, in some states, they are not permitted to insert IVs or administer IV medication. LPNs usually have an associate’s in nursing, but many LPNs go back to school to become registered nurses. There are many LPN-to-RN programs available that make it easy to advance in this area. On average, LPNs make around $43,000 a year.
Additional Career Options
Healthcare is a thriving industry with a lot of in-demand jobs. Its scale provides an array of experiences for all kinds of employees and offers lots of growth potential. The previous five careers mentioned above are in high demand, but it is important to note that within the healthcare field, first jobs are often just a stepping stone in place for guiding people to their dream job.
Having discussed the high-demand jobs in the medical field, we’ll now move on to some other high potential and rewards careers in the field that could also be of interest:
Medical Coding and Billing
Medical billing and coding workers use technology to help healthcare professionals update medical records and obtain payment for services rendered. People who work in this field assign standard codes for each diagnosis and medical procedure and enter the codes into a patient’s health record. This information is also forwarded to insurance companies to process healthcare claims correctly. Medical billing and coding specialists work in all healthcare facilities, from medical offices and hospitals to rehabilitation centers and health departments.
Medical billing and coding are good options for those who have little interest in patient care but are still looking for a rewarding career in the thriving healthcare field. Medical billing and coding
fulfill an essential administrative function within the healthcare industry. Jobs for medical secretaries, coding specialists, and medical billing professionals, are projected to increase 22% from 2016 to 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Medical Researchers are intellectuals that contribute to the body of knowledge in medical sciences. This career is very complex and involves conducting experiments, working with a team, investigating the epidemiological basis of disease, the ability to question intricate complexities of genome and proteome, as well as effective communication skills to succeed as a medical researcher—however, this career requires quite a lot of intellectual and emotional resilience.
Becoming a medical researcher is a complex process due to its profession and demand for distinctive skills, expertise, and mandatory formal education. The most straightforward formal degree requirement is a minimum of a Master’s or a Ph.D. For those looking for an exceptional career as a medical researcher, Ph.D. will bring you the distance in a medical field academic career like medical research. By obtaining a formal education in either biological sciences or medicine, one can start a medical researcher career. However, formal education in medicine can broaden an individual’s options.
Nurse practitioners take on many of the tasks physicians are given, such as diagnosing patients and prescribing medications. In many states in the US, nurse practitioners can open their own medical practice without a doctor’s supervision. Nurse practitioners must earn a master’s degree to practice in most states, and they can choose to work in research, education, nurse leadership, or diagnostics. Some NPs are also allowed to perform minor surgeries. On average, nurse practitioners make $107,030 a year.
Veterinarians diagnose and treat animals similarly to how physicians help people. Vets must undergo extensive training to identify and treat medical conditions in animals. Veterinarians can specialize in working with specific animals. These specializations break down into categories such as large animals (horses, cows, donkeys), domestic animals (cats, dogs, rabbits), and exotic animals (monkeys, tigers, elephants).
Vets might work in their practice or find employment in research facilities, zoos, and educational institutions. (BLS) On average, Veterinarians make $93,830 a year and attain a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine or a Master of Veterinary Medicine, although this second option is much rarer.
A psychiatrist is a doctor who treats and assesses patients with mental and psychiatric disorders. Psychiatrists usually work as therapists, but they mostly work with other health care providers to diagnose a patient’s mental state and stability. They often spend a lot of time researching and writing papers and journal articles as well.
Psychiatrists can work in various job environments, including courthouses and law enforcement offices. (BLS) On average, Psychiatrists make $220,380 a year and obtain a Doctor of Psychiatry or a Doctor of Psychology.
What to Look for in a Medical Degree Program
Becoming a doctor of any kind typically involves much schooling. In some cases, 10+ years of education and training are required, so it is essential to plan for one’s education to ensure the right choices are achieved to succeed at one’s ultimate goal. This section of the article will cover a selection of essential factors to consider when preparing for a health science degree program.
Earning an undergraduate is typically one of the first serious steps in beginning a medical career as a general practitioner or physician. For many on this route, selecting a program that can be completed quickly is highly important as schooling can take quite some time. As most medical schools do not require a specific undergraduate degree, students can select various undergraduate degrees. Some of the most common undergraduate majors taken before medical school are biological sciences, physical sciences, social science, humanities, specialized health sciences, and math and statistics. Notably, some students have found that a science-focused major gives them the foundation to succeed on the MCAT and has benefited them once they enter medical school.
After completing an undergraduate degree, prospective medical students prepare to take the MCAT, an online standardized test that allows them access to a medical school program. According to admission experts, the most important medical school acceptance requirement is strong academic undergrad performance. Low GPA or MCAT entrance exam score can drastically affect a hopeful doctor’s chance of getting into med school. Some medical schools will set minimum standards for GPAs and MCAT scores, meaning that ensuring a candidate meets those two targets’ high standards are essential to gain acceptance into these institutions.
Notably, medical schools are rigorous, and admissions officers search for evidence that prospective students are ready to deal with challenging science courses. Medical schools often use grades and test scores to confirm that students attain the technical knowledge vital to thrive as medical students. Additionally, most medical school applicants apply to quite a few schools. Prospective medical school students seeking acceptance in the US for the 2019-2020 school year submitted an average of 17 applications.
A common next step after medical school completion is residency training. Residency is a three-plus-year training program in a medical specialty. The first year of training after medical school is called an internship, or more commonly, it is called the first year of residency. After a residency (in a subspecialty), the training is usually called a fellowship. Most of what a doctor learns about their specialty is learned in residency.
During residency, doctors learn medicine by caring for patients with various diseases. The more patients a doctor cares for, and the more disease and variations of diseases they see and treat, the more proficient they will become. The experience gained from patient care is enhanced with
lectures and conferences. There are many different residencies, but usually, the first year of residency is typically spent rotating through medical specialties or alternating through different areas within one specialty. This rotation helps the doctor determine what area they want to specialize in moving forward in their career.
The medical field offers many promising careers at all employee levels, and we gave you a glimpse of some of the most popular jobs out there. The medical field is a thriving industry full of motivated, compassionate, and dedicated people. One of the best things about it is that it’s accessible to everyone. Whether you want to get an associate’s degree and start working in two years or you want to invest time and money into med school, there are many options in the field.
Although healthcare is often a rigorous and sometimes stressful field to work in, it also comes with many benefits that go far beyond basic financial stability. Not only do you have the opportunity to make a good income, but you also help people in some way, every day. A healthcare career is not for everyone, but if it sounds like something you would excel in, any of the professions mentioned above are certainly worth further consideration, though there are many that we did not get a chance to cover, including occupational therapy assistant, radiologic technologists, physical therapist, radiation therapist, and respiratory therapist.
As you can see, there are many options if you’re looking to enter the healthcare field, so don’t miss out on the career opportunity of a lifetime.