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Healthcare Specialists: Career Options and Education Requirements

Degrees and training in specialty medicine typically cover subspecialties of medical practice. Find out about the requirements of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for medical specialty graduates and professionals.

Some areas of specialization for healthcare professionals include working as a healthcare specialty teacher, a combat medic, or a clinical nurse specialist. The training required varies from a high school diploma and on-the-job training to a master's or PhD. Nurses are also required to have a state license.

Essential Information

Specialist healthcare providers are physicians, nurses or educators with specific training in a subspecialty of medicine. These physicians fall into several different categories of medical practice such as cardiology, neurology or gastroenterology, or may choose to pursue a career as a medical educator or nurse. Education, training and other requirements depend on the specific job or medical specialty.

Career Healthcare Specialty Teachers Combat Medics Clinical Nurse Specialist
Education Requirements Master's Degree or Ph.D. in medical studies High School Diploma Master's or Doctorate degree
Other Requirements Completion of the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam On-the-job training State Licensure
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 12% 24% (for all EMTs and paramedics) 16%
Median Salary $90,840 annually (2015)* $20,000-$36,000 annual special pay (2016)** $67,490 annually (2014)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **Military.com

Career Options

Those who provide specialized care in the healthcare fieldwork under several different job titles. Among them are healthcare specialty teachers, combat medics and clinical nurse specialists, which are detailed below.

Education Requirements

Prospective specialist healthcare providers must gain a bachelor's degree in order to enter medical school. To become a physician, a student must attend an accredited medical school and complete a Doctor of Medicine program. Within the medical program, students will explore basic science, diagnosis and clinical medicine. Those who have an interest in a particular type of medical study, such as internal medicine or pediatrics, must complete a residency medical education program in their field. Upon completion of the residency, a specialist healthcare provider must complete a fellowship program within their chosen subspecialty, such as gastroenterology.

Healthcare Specialty Teachers

Healthcare specialists who look to educate others in their field can become healthcare specialty teachers. They teach at medical facilities and in educational settings. These types of professors teach courses in dentistry, pharmacy, public health or laboratory technology.

As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job growth rate for health educators is expected to be 12% during 2014-2024. It further reported that healthcare specialty teachers at the postsecondary level earned a median annual salary of $90,840 in 2015.

Education Requirements

Healthcare specialty teachers must have completed a bachelor's degree program along with a graduate degree. Most healthcare specialty educator positions require a master's degree or Ph.D. in medicine or medical studies. Prospective healthcare specialty teachers are also required to pass the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam.

Combat Medics

Health care specialists, also known as combat medics, work in a military setting providing emergency care to soldiers injured in combat. Their job duties entail providing treatment to wounded soldiers, assisting with the delivery and transportation of the injured, collecting medical records and providing vaccinations. Combat medics can be found in military hospitals and clinics.

Military.com reports that the monthly special pay for military medical officers ranged from $583.33 - $916.67 based on length of active duty. Annual incentive special pay was between $20,000 and $36,000.

Education Requirements

Combat medics must hold a high school diploma. Most of the training for combat medics is received on-the-job through training programs. After the completion of basic training, a combat medic will be trained in patient care techniques, sterilization, casting and emergency medical response. Specialized training in dialysis, occupational therapy and vocational nursing may also be included.

Clinical Nurse Specialist

Clinical nurse specialists are registered nurses with advanced education in different medical specialties that range from pediatrics to psychiatric. They provide direct care assisting patients, as well as provide consultation services on health care delivery improvements. Clinical nurse specialists may also provide consultation to patients in how to improve health and prevent disease.

The BLS reported in 2014 that employment growth for registered nurses was expected to be 16% between 2014 and 2024. The median annual salary for a registered nurse in May 2015 was $67,490, with those in California, Hawaii and Massachusetts earning more than $88,000 per year.

Education Requirements

Clinical nurse specialists typically hold a master's or doctorate degree in clinical nurse specialist with specialties such as adult care or women's health nursing. They must also secure state licensure for fields such as adult health, diabetes management or home health. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) also offers certification for clinical nurse specialists.

Healthcare specialty teachers instruct others in their field of specialization. They typically work at postsecondary institutions or medical facilities, while combat medics work in combat zones, treating injured soldiers. Clinical nurse specialists may work in hospitals, doctor's offices or clinics, and provide direct care and consultation to their patients.


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