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Educating students about alternative careers in healthcare

Educating students about alternative careers in healthcare


Our roles as educators include preparing students to apply to colleges and universities. Many students interested in the medical and healthcare fields think they want to become a doctor or nurse — that is, until they realize the time and financial commitment required of them by medical school — the long hours of internships and residencies, as well as the intense nature of the job.

There are a number of different pathways that a career in the medical field can take that does not include large amounts of exposure to bodily fluids, or the necessity to communicate with mentally or emotionally unstable patients and family members. Exploring alternative options may open a whole new world of medicine for you. Pursue your dream of working in the medical field but be open to some of the following positions that may better suit you, as opposed to the classically trained family practitioner that you imagined becoming as a child.

1.) Massage Therapist

Medical massage therapists are an integral facet in any hospital that offers relief to a variety of different patients. Once certified, you will be able to identify tense muscle, ligaments, or fascia and apply a scientifically-based system of corrective techniques which include applying pressure, articulation of the body, or a number of other methods. Massage is particularly helpful to those seeking help with pain management, blood circulation, and stress-induced issues such as migraines.

2.) Doula/Midwife

Doula and midwives are respectable positions that serve as companions throughout the duration of pregnancy and during the newborn months of a child. A doula and a midwife’s educational background differ slightly and one may be more appealing to you than the other, depending on your personal career goals. Midwives typically hold a Master of Science degree in Nursing, whereas a doula obtains a certificate. Midwives are legally able to deliver babies both in hospitals and private practice, however, doulas are not.

Both practitioners advise mothers on birthing plans, are present at the birth as a support system and offer advice and solutions to adjusting to a new life with a baby. Midwives are more focused on ultrasound dates and clinical check-ups, whereas doulas participate in postpartum meal planning and the use of essential oils to keep the mother calm during the birthing process.

3.) Healthcare Administrator

If you are looking for a role in a hospital set away from the hustle and bustle of treating patients, managing health services may be for you. Healthcare administrators manage the business side of hospitals, such as staffing, supply chains, and keeping the lights on. To qualify for the position, only a bachelor’s degree is required, however, to be more competitive in the job market, consider pursuing a Master of Healthcare Administration, an MBA or a Master of Public Health. There couldn’t be a better time to pursue a career path in this role, as it is predicted that there will be a 22 percent rise in demand in the field.

4.) Medical Coder

Medical coders are needed to translate a doctor’s notes into a language that insurance companies can interpret and understand, as well as simplify medical records. Each diagnosis, report, or lab test all have an associated code associated with them. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) also uses this information to identify outbreaks and epidemics. Learning how to be a medical coder can be done at a trade school and is more financially feasible for some when compared to the costs of medical school.

5.) Medical Assistant

If you want a part of the action but aren’t interested in a 15-year educational experience, becoming a medical assistant will enable you to work alongside a medical professional in outpatient facilities. The number of medical assistant job opportunities is expected to rise 29 percent from the surveyed number in 2012. Although some duties may include being in the office with the doctor taking blood samples or removing sutures, there are also administrative duties associated with the position. It is the role of the medical assistant to keep the doctor’s office (no matter what speciality) running as smoothly as possible.

6.) Nurse Educator

Nurse educators are registered nurses (RNs) who combine their extensive clinical experience and academic expertise to train nursing students. Nursing educators are typically more academic focused, as they are required to obtain additional certificates and schooling to obtain their position. They teach in medical schools, hospitals, colleges, and universities — they typically continue a clinical practice as well. Nurse educators bridge the gap between the academic side of nurse training and the transition to clinical practice. If you have a passion for both medical research and practising medicine, this may be a great alternative career path to consider.

7.) Ambulance Driver/Emergency Medical Technician

If you are wanting to be part of the fast-paced environment of the emergency room but do not want to be confined to a hospital, consider a position as an ambulance driver. Ambulance drivers are emergency medical technicians who also take on the responsibility of transporting patients to the hospital from the scene of the incident — being the first point of contact with the patient and performing tasks such as CPR and first-aid. The schooling required to become an EMT is not as intensive as medical school. It requires 80 to 120 hours in the classroom and 24 hours or more of hands-on experience.

Entering into the medical field is a big decision, no matter which route you take. However, it doesn’t have to feel unobtainable if you are willing to explore alternative career paths within the field of medicine. Choose a program that best suits your available time and financial commitments to set yourself up for success.


Frankie Wallace is a freelance journalist from Boise, Idaho and contributes to a variety of blogs across the web.

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