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Career Spotlight: Medical and Health Services

A career in the medical field or the health services industry can be very rewarding if you are drawn to working in a care-related setting and excel in the sciences. Those who feel drawn to helping others and serving the health-related needs of many different people are often drawn to medicine and health-related careers and jobs. These careers require excellent interpersonal skills and attention to detail, and many require availability to work long and demanding hours. Doctors, nurses, physician's assistants, home health aides, medical specialists, surgeons, pharmacists, lab specialists, and medical technicians are high-demand careers needed in hospitals, doctor's offices, military bases, rehabilitation and elderly care facilities, schools, homes, health and fitness centers, and other settings. The hours these workers put in depend on their specific job duties. Some work regular business hours, while others - particularly those employed in hospitals - work variable hours and may be on call during certain evening and weekend hours on a rotating schedule each month.
 

Degrees, Training, or Certifications Required for Medical and Health-Services Careers

  • Registered Nurses need a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing or an Associate Degree in Nursing with job-related experience (those who receive an Associate Degree in Nursing can often get tuition assistance from their employer to complete a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing). Nurses must also pass an exam to become a Registered Nurse.
  • Medical Doctors need a Medical Doctor (MD) degree from an accredited Medical School and must complete at least four years of internship or residency and pass the medical board exams.
  • Doctors with specialization, such as podiatry, pediatrics, geriatrics, neurology, optometry, sports injuries, osteopathy and other areas usually need a specific medical doctor degree (such as a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) for podiatrists, as well as specific licensure to practice.
  • Surgeons need a Medical Doctor (MD) degree from an accredited Medical School and must complete at least four years of internship or residency with specific training in surgery, and pass the medical board exams.
  • Pharmacists need a Bachelor's Degree as well as a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree and must pass two licensing examinations.
  • Dentists must have a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from an accredited Dental School and must pass a licensing exam to practice in their state. Requirements vary by state.
  • Dental Hygienists need an Associate Degree in Dental Hygiene and must pass a licensing exam in their state.
  • Optometrists need a Doctor of Optometry degree (OD) from an accredited College of Optometry and must pass licensing exams to practice in their state.
  • Home Health Aides require no formal education, though aides employed in certified home health agencies or in hospice care must pass certification exams, depending on the state.
  • Physical Therapists need a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree (DPT) and must pass licensing exams to practice in their state.
  • Physician Assistants need a Bachelor's Degree in a health-related field for entry-level positions, followed by a two-year training program for physician assistants. This training usually awards a Master's Degree upon completion.
  • Medical Billing Specialists or Medical Records Specialists need a post-secondary certificate or an Associate Degree in medical billing or medical records.
  • Radiation Therapists need an Associate Degree in radiation therapy.
  • Medical Imaging Technicians (those who work with MRI, CT scans, and other medical imaging devices) need an Associate Degree in medical imaging or a related field.

 

Career Areas for Medical and Health-Services Careers

Medical and Health-services careers span many areas. Some common career areas include:

  • Medical Doctor
  • - Pharmacist
  • - Surgeon
  • - General Practice Doctor
  • - Family Medicine
  • - Registered Nurse
  • - Nurse Practitioner
  • - Midwife
  • - Obstetrician/Gynecologist
  • - Pediatrition
  • - Gerontologist
  • - Neurologist
  • - Optometrist
  • - Dentist
  • - Dental Hygienist
  • - Home Health Aide
  • - Physical Therapist
  • - Nutritionist
  • - Physician's Assistant
  • - Anesthetist
  • - Anesthesiologist
  • - Radiologist
  • - Medical Billing Specialist

 

Potential Earnings and Job Projections for Medical and Health Services Careers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for doctors and surgeons in 2010 was $166,400 per year or greater, with an expected employment increase of 24 percent between 2010 and 2020 (this is much higher growth than the average for U.S. occupations). The median annual salary for registered nurses was $64,690, with expected job growth of 26 percent between 2010 and 2020 (much faster than the average for all occupations). Pharmacists had an annual median salary of $111,570, with a growth rate of 25 percent between 2010 and 2020. Dentists had an annual median salary of $146,920, with a projected growth rate of 21 percent between 2010 and 2020. Optometrists had an annual median salary of $94,990 with a job growth rate of 33 percent between 2010 and 2020. Home health aides had an annual median salary of $20,170 with a job growth rate of 69 percent (due to the demands of an aging baby boomer generation) between 2010 and 2020. Physical therapists had an annual median salary of $76,310 with a job growth rate of 39 percent between 2010 and 2020. Physician Assistants had an annual median salary of $86,410 with a job growth rate of 30 percent between 2010 and 2020. Medical Billing Specialists and Medical Records Specialists had an annual median salary of $32,350 with a job growth rate of 21 percent between 2010 and 2020. Radiation Therapists had an annual median salary of $74,980 with a job growth rate of 20 percent between 2010 and 2020. Finally, Medical Imaging Technicians had an annual median salary of $54,340 with a job growth rate of 28 percent between 2010 and 2020.
 

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