Nursing is perhaps one of the most recognized healthcare jobs across the country. Degree programs are available everywhere you go, the job market is continuing to grow, and the pay is pretty good too. However, nursing isn’t for everyone.
If you want to work in healthcare but you don’t want to become a nurse, you still have options. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that healthcare jobs in general will grow around 16% between 2020 and 2030, so no matter what title you decide to pursue, you likely won’t have trouble finding a job.
There are lots of healthcare jobs that are similar to nursing for those interested in pursuing them, but here are just the top few.
#1. Medical Assistant
Medical assistants are certified healthcare professionals that handle both administrative and clinical tasks daily. They help with basic patient care such as drawing blood, checking vitals, and even giving vaccines. They also take care of administrative tasks such as answering the phone, scheduling appointments, help file insurance claims, and look over patient files.
To become a medical assistant, you’ll typically need to complete at least your GED or have a high school diploma, but most have an associates degree. If you want to pursue a degree, a good choice would be biology, psychology, medical assisting, or even medical administration. A nursing degree can come in handy as well.
Medical assistants can specialize their career by taking special certification courses and attending training programs.
#2. Respiratory Therapist
Respiratory therapy is for patients that have difficulty breathing. Similar to nurses, respiratory therapists work directly with patients to administer care and assist as needed. They monitor ventilators, administer oxygen, measure lung function, and may even resuscitate patients.
Respiratory therapists have at least an associates degree in respiratory care, though some hospitals may show preference for those with a bachelor’s degree. You’ll also need to be licensed.
The job outlook for respiratory therapists is incredibly optimistic. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a growth rate of 23% which is much higher than most other healthcare jobs. As Baby Boomers begin to retire and grow old, the need for professionals that can administer oxygen and other breathing assistance and care is expected to grow rapidly.
#3. Occupational Therapy Assistant
Occupational therapy helps patients recover or develop different motor skills that are necessary for living and working. As an occupational therapy assistant, you’ll help patients cope with their disabilities and help those who have suffered major injuries regain their strength and range of motion.
Similarly to nurses, occupational therapist assistants work directly with patients. Unlike nurses, however, you’ll work with patients for a much longer period of time. While nurses are focused on helping their patients get healthy and return to their daily lives, you’ll work with the same handful of patients for months, or even years at a time.
Occupational therapists will need at least an associates degree in occupational therapy. Once you’ve finished your education, you’ll have the opportunity to work either in hospitals or at a private practice depending on the type of schedule you want and the workplace that you prefer.
#4. Radiology Technician
Often referred to as radiographers or even radiologic technologists, a radiology technician operates diagnostic technology to provide exams for X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and other types of exams. Radiographers work directly with doctors and help provide diagnostics.
As a radiographer, you’ll be able to provide doctors with detailed insight into the result of a scan or report. Since radiographers work mainly with machinery, there is little patient interaction. This makes it a great career choice for anyone that wants to help provide medical diagnoses without having to interact directly with the patient or their family.
Radiographers will need an associate’s degree, but some states may also require you to become certified.
#5. Surgical Technologist
Perhaps you’re interested in surgery, but you don’t like the idea of actually making the cut. Or maybe you’re a bit squeamish. In any case, you don’t have to write off surgery from your list of potential career fields.
Surgical technologists work in the surgery rooms to prepare and clean everything before and between operations. You’ll help prepare the equipment that’s necessary and ensure everything is sterile. You may also assist during surgeries.
As a surgical technologist, you work in surgery and are in the room, but you don’t have the stress of operating. For those who don’t work well under stress or simply don’t like it, becoming a surgical technologist will allow you to be in a field that you’re interested in without all the pressure.
To become a surgical technologist, you’ll need an associates degree and usually a certification.
#6. Social Worker
Social workers help people that have mental disabilities, trauma, addictions, or terminal illnesses. Social work is more similar to therapists and psychologists than nursing, but it still puts you in direct contact with patients so that you can help them find a treatment plan.
You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in social work and a license. Depending on your state, however, licensing may not be required. Even if this is the case, many employers prefer it so it’s worth looking into.
#7. Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists are to dentists what nurses are to doctors. Similarly to nurses, they take care of basic patient care and interact with patients directly. Dental hygienists are one step above dental assistants in that they are responsible for cleaning a patient’s teeth and examining their gums and mouth for signs of disease or damage.
As part of their job, dental hygienists may also operate equipment such as X-ray machines and ultrasonic tools for cleaning. In order to become a dental hygienist, you’ll need at least an associates degree, though a bachelor’s degree is recommended. You’ll also need a license from your state before you can start your practice.
Working in Healthcare
When you work in healthcare, you’ll be faced with a lot of challenges. However, you’ll also have a very rewarding career. While some aspects of your job will be difficult such as diagnosing and delivering bad news to a patient, other aspects will make the job worth it such as catching a potentially fatal disease before it gets bad or helping someone recover from a major injury.
Whatever you decide to pursue in healthcare, rest assured that it will be rewarding and you’ll be surrounded by a great group of people.
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