In the US, health care is big business. According to a report from the American Hospital Association, there are more than 5,000 registered hospitals in the US, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that there are approximately 18 million people employed in US health care. You might think that most of these health care jobs would require long years of study and training, but that isn’t entirely true.
The modern US health care system includes a vast array of careers besides those of nurses and physicians. There are plenty of opportunities for administrators, support staff and technicians, and as the health care sector continues to grow, employers are actively recruiting employees from a diverse number of job areas, and with the possibility of above-average health benefits, and tuition assistance, a job in health care is an attractive option.
Here are ten US health care careers that you might not have considered that do not require an intensive postgraduate qualification:
The role of the Medical Administrator is to manage the day-to-day operation of clinics and hospitals. This requires an understanding of health care law and the ability to adapt in an area where regulations and technology are constantly changing. Most administration positions will require a bachelor’s degree in Health Services Administration, so anyone interested in US health care industry careers should first check out a list of required courses.
Physician Assistants work under the supervision of a physician, and are permitted to examine, diagnose and treat patients. The educational requirements for this position vary widely, but can include the completion of a bachelor’s degree-level nursing qualification and a certified Physician Assistant program.
This is one of the newer roles in US health care, and it combines the research and development of medical devices used for diagnoses, pharmaceuticals and prosthetic equipment. The role of the Biomedical Engineer is to develop biological and medical solutions to improve patient outcomes. In terms of qualifications, Biomedical Engineers generally require a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering, followed by on-the-job-training, and can be employed in hospitals, research facilities or universities.
This role involves administering radiation treatment to cancer patients to kill cancer cells. Radiation Therapists work with Radiation Oncologists and Radiation Physicists, and operate the equipment that delivers targeted radiation treatment to patients. This role requires a two-year degree qualification in Radiation Therapy.
Nuclear Medicine Technologist
To become licensed as a Nuclear Medicine Technologist, you will need a degree-level qualification in Nuclear Medicine Technology. Nuclear Medicine Technologists are responsible for operating equipment and administering radioactive drugs that build up an image of a patient’s body, which is used in the diagnosis and treatment of a number of diseases. Technologists working in this field may work in specialist centers or in hospitals.
Registered nursing is a steadily growing field of employment in the US health care system. Nurses have to be registered if they wish to practice in hospitals or physicians’ offices, and most nursing programs have switched from the former two-year diploma system to a two-year associate’s degree or the more intensive four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
The field of medical sonography includes a variety of job roles, including Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technicians, but the common function is the operation of specialized imaging equipment – though some technologists also help physicians and surgeons more directly. To enter this role, you will need at minimum an associate’s degree or postsecondary certificate before you start training.
Dietician and nutritionist
Given the national focus on healthier eating and lifestyle habits, the demand for nutritionists and dieticians has never been higher. A bachelor’s degree in Nutrition Scienceis generally required for this role, along with properly supervised training. Dieticians and nutritionists work with physicians and other health care professionals to help patients in developing and maintaining healthier eating habits and lifestyles. They can be employed in a range of settings, from hospitals and cancer centers to long-term care facilities.
Cytotechnology is at the cutting edge of medicine. These laboratory professionals focus on cells and cell anomalies, and play a vital role in early diagnosis and treatment, and the demand for experienced Cytotechnologists is likely to increase over the next few years as our ability to detect genetic diseases and disorders becomes more effective.
There is no doubt that the US health care sector will continue to offer a variety of opportunities besides the traditional role of physician, and it remains one of the best areas to focus on for those who are choosing a first or a new career.