Those considering a career in health care have a lot more options than just becoming a physician or surgeon. The medical field is a fast-growing, rapidly developing industry with the need for all sorts of health care professionals in the coming years. So which career path should current and future med students focus on? Read on as we explore seven of the best choices.
1. Travel Nursing
Nursing is, without a doubt, one of the most in-demand health care jobs today. However, demand can vary from hospital to hospital and region to region over time. That’s where travel nurse jobs come in. Travel nurses can use a variety of placement services, regular job postings, and networking to find hospitals or other medical facilities that need temporary nursing help. Contracts are typically for 13 weeks, though shorter or longer ones aren’t uncommon. These positions can be especially lucrative as a recognition of their short-term nature while also providing a perfect opportunity for those who want to travel and see the country.
2. Nurse Practitioner
Nurse practitioners (NPs) are another promising sub-field of nursing with growing demand. They receive additional training and certifications to perform more duties and take on more responsibilities than a typical registered nurse (RN), similar to a physician’s assistant.
While the exact nature of the role varies somewhat from state to state, NPs have more autonomy and generally perform some of the basic functions of a doctor, like prescribing medication, ordering tests, and diagnosing patients. Positions are available everywhere, from emergency rooms and urgent care facilities to rehab or specialty medical centers. Nurse practitioners enjoy a significantly higher salary than RNs, a recognition of the help they provide to overworked doctors in taking on some everyday work.
3. Physical or Occupational Therapist
These therapies are similar and growing fields any health care professional should consider for a career. Physical therapy is geared toward helping patients improve their mobility and endurance, deal with pain, and recover from injuries or surgery. On the other hand, occupational therapy focuses on daily living, working on issues like fine motor control and even mental health and behavior.
The goal of both is to help patients resume their normal lives as much as possible following an injury, procedure, or diagnosis. Both are fast-growing, high-paying careers, partly due to the rapid aging of the American population, which is expected to continue over the coming decades.
4. Home Health Aide
The aging of the baby boomer generation has also created a major demand for home health aides. They most commonly work with older people who require some physical or medical assistance but want to stay in their homes rather than a nursing home or assisted living community. However, disabled or homebound people of all ages may need the assistance of these compassionate, hardworking health care professionals.
Some may be “live-in” positions, where aides live in the patient’s home to provide round-the-clock care. Other home health aides may only spend a few hours a day with one or more clients. While it may not offer as high of a salary as some medical fields, it typically requires less schooling and is usually easy to find a job.
5. Speech-Language Pathologist
Speech-language pathologists are therapists who focus on speech issues in everyone, from babies to older people. The field is a combination of helping overcome physical issues in producing speech (like stuttering or difficulty forming word sounds). Additionally, they help with problems involved with the production and understanding of language in the brain.
These can result from natural conditions or injuries like brain trauma. Speech-language pathologists wear a variety of hats. This is anywhere from diagnosing patients and developing treatment plans to working with patients and even their families on therapy. This well-paying field is expected to grow quickly in the years ahead, with positions available everywhere from hospitals to schools.
Even as many people are increasingly conscious of what they’re putting into their bodies, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other diet-related health conditions remain a significant problem. That’s why there’s a strong and steady demand for dietitians. They use the science of nutrition to help patients improve their lives. They’ll help design food and supplement plans that work for the individual needs and desires of a patient. Plus, they work with patients to educate them on food and diet choices.
It’s an excellent field for those who want to combine their passion for health care with their love of food. Dietitians work in various settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and private practices.
Aspiring health care professionals who want to work in one of the highest-paying fields may want to pursue a specialty in anesthesiology. Anesthesiologists make more than $300,000 on average, significantly higher than typical physicians. This is partly a recognition of the length of time it takes to become one. It is among the longest career paths in medicine. It’s necessary training for the sensitive position. It involves administering the proper amount of anesthesia to a patient to prevent pain without using too much and harming them (or worse.) However, with steady demand and lucrative salary, it may be a good fit for some patient, detailed-oriented medical professionals.
Which Health Care Career Path is Right for You?
The health care world is changing every day. It’s vital for professionals to stay up to date on the most in-demand careers. No matter their skills, desired salary, or lifestyle, aspiring health care professionals should consider this list when deciding on a career path.