Nurse. Doctor. Emergency-room attendant. Do your only ideas of health careers come from ER? Well, there are more careers in health related industry than patients treated in an hour-long episode. Here are some health career choices.
Careers in Health
The guys and gals in charge of your local pharmacy do more than just dispense your meds when you get a bug. If they’ve earned doctorates in pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degrees, they also know how the drugs work with your body and against diseases. “Prescriptions are not allowed to leave the pharmacy without (pharmacists) checking them. His or her role is to discuss the side effects with the patient to make sure there are no complications,” says Veronica Semler, coordinator of pharmacy admissions at the University of the Pacific in California.
Once you graduate with a Pharm.D. degree, you’ll look for health careers at either a retail outlet (think CVS, Walgreen’s or a grocery store) or at a clinic (such as a hospital or doctor’s office). The average salary for a pharmacist is $70,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you can’t wait to complete a four- or five-year Pharm.D. program, you could become a pharmacy technician—a vocational program found at many community colleges. Pharmacy technicians ready and dispense drugs under a pharmacist’s supervision.
Health Careers in Nursing
Registered Nurse -With more than 2 million jobs available, nursing is the country’s most in-demand health profession.
Margie Heerkens is a registered nurse (RN) at a long-term care facility in North Carolina. “Typically, a nurse is busy, busy, busy,” Heerkens says. “There are medications to be passed in the morning and afternoon, and treatments to be done during the shift. Call lights are to be answered when a patient needs something, and a nurse deals with the patient’s family on a regular basis.”
To become an RN, you can complete either a two-year associate’s degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree. Once licensed, consider becoming a school nurse, working in a doctor’s office or doing community health nursing. You could also go into medical billing, occupational nursing, or you could represent a medical company. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a typical RN salary ranges from $37,870 to $54,000 annually.
Careers in Health- Non-Medical
“When most people think of a chiropractor, they think of back pain. But they can deal with headaches, back and neck pain and sports injuries,” says Michael Lynch, director of admissions at New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls, N.Y. “They also counsel their patients in areas such as nutrition, posture and ergonomics.” To treat discomfort, chiropractors give nutrition and postural advice and manipulations or adjustments to various parts of the body. They do not prescribe medication or perform surgery. “All aspirin really does is dull the pain. It doesn’t take care of the cause of the headache, which can be anything from stress to something you ate to having a misalignment,” Lynch says.
After you finish a chiropractic program, you’ll have to pass national board exams before you can become a practicing chiropractor. If you pass, you’ll be able to practice as a chiropractor in nearly all 50 states (more if you take state-specific exams) and many countries. Starting fresh out of school, expect to be making around $30,000 to $40,000 a year, with the potential to earn $100,000 annually.
After completing classes in gross anatomy, kinesiology, orthopedics, neuroscience and epidemiology, Paige Hashley graduated with a master’s in physical therapy. Now a practicing physical therapist, Hashley evaluates and treats patients in Kirksville, Mo. “Most treatments consist of some form of pain relieving treatment, from the use of ultrasound and electrical stimulation to massage and therapeutic exercise,” she says. You’ll find physical therapists working for schools, homecare services, hospitals, nursing homes and specialty units, such as burn units or cancer centers. Hashley appreciates the relationships she is able to build with clients. And the healing aspect of her job is what she likes best. “Nothing feels better than to see a patient walk in to clinic with a smile and report their pain is no longer,” she says.
To discover other health careers, visit nextSTEPmag.com/careers.