Medical and Health Professions

Medical and health professions make up part of a growing industry with many career opportunities. Read on to learn if a career or education path in the medical and health fields is right for you.

Inside Medical and Health Professions

In the medical and health fields, professional occupations require the most training, a bachelor's degree at the minimum. However, a graduate degree in a specific medical field is often required. For example, according to the American Medical Association, in order to become a physician, one must complete a bachelor's degree program that includes courses in the biological sciences ( Aspiring doctors then complete four years of medical school and graduate with an MD (Doctor of Medicine) degree.

After completing medical school, graduates enter into a residency program, which is typically 3-5 years in length and during which time they select an area of medicine in which to specialize, such as pediatrics, family medicine, obstetrics or geriatrics. After completing a residency program, MDs can earn their medical license; some MDs, especially those interested in pursuing a highly specialized area of medicine, such as a specialty in psychiatry, may complete a fellowship.

Students interested in becoming nurses may enroll in a 4-year bachelor's degree program in nursing. They may take courses in clinical nursing, nursing care management and leadership, adult nursing and assessment skills. Those interested in becoming nurse practitioners will have to complete a master's degree program in nursing with a concentration in a specialty of advanced practice nursing, such as pediatric, psychiatric or family nursing.

Another branch of medical and health professions is allied health. Some of these professionals may have six months to two years of training after high school, while others may have bachelor's and master's degrees. Examples of careers this group include EMTs (emergency medical technicians), paramedics, technicians, technologists, sonographers, health educators, dietitians, medical librarians and dental hygienists.

Other allied health workers, such as nursing aides and home care aides, may have either little or no specific training, or certificates and associate degrees - some may even be trained on the job. Individuals with associate's degrees may advance by earning bachelor's degrees. A large segment of health and medical professions consists of administrative and office occupations, such as receptionists, medical records technicians and information clerks.

As you can see, there are careers at every level and across many specialties in the medical and health care fields. Whether you are looking for an entry-level position or you would like to pursue a degree, has information on both on campus and online degree programs, courses and careers that may help you discover the next step in your career path.

Education Options

There are many programs available to individuals interested in health professions. The pages below highlight just a few of the options available to students.

Distance Learning

There are also distance learning programs available to individuals interested in pursuing a medical or health profession; however, due to the hands-on nature of the field, many programs have in-person lab or practical requirements. Explore the following articles for more information.

Career Options

A medical professional's duties are complex and generally have a great deal of associated responsibility, including overseeing other health care workers. The following articles can help you decide which career path is right for you.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Due to the wide variety of jobs in the medical and health fields, job prospects and pay can vary significantly; however, the continued overall expansion of the healthcare field should create many new jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of physicians and surgeons was expected to increase 18% from 2012-2022. The BLS also noted that all physicians and surgeons not listed individually earned an average annual income of $187,200 as of May 2013.

Additionally, jobs for registered nurses were predicted to grow 19% from 2012-2022; these professionals brought home an average annual salary of $68,910 as of May 2013 (BLS). Nursing assistants were also expected to experience a rise in employment numbers from 2012-2022; the BLS reported an estimated increase of 21% during this decade. As of May 2013, nursing assistants earned an average of $26,020 annually (BLS).

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