Medical Career Training & Adult Education Info

Medical training programs are offered at community colleges and trade and vocational schools, and some specialties can even be studied online. Read about the types of careers you could pursue, including their educational requirements and career prospects.

Adult students have several options for finding education for medical career training. Learn about some common programs and preview different potential careers you could have after completing your education.

Program Information

Adults seeking medical career training have a variety of career paths to choose from, with educational requirements ranging from a postsecondary non-degree award to a doctorate. Bachelor's degree programs, undergraduate and graduate certificate programs, and standalone courses are available in a variety of fields to prepare students for several potential careers. Some career options available include working as a medical transcriptionist, physician's assistant, nurse, or alternative medical practitioner. Many educational programs for these careers include clinical training, and some positions require licensure.

Programs At a Glance

Individual Classes

  • Individual medical career courses are available online.
  • These courses can last anywhere between 2 hours and 2 years depending on the subject.

Certificate Programs

  • Graduate and undergraduate certificate programs are available online and on campus.
  • These programs vary in length, with some lasting 13 weeks, others 12-18 credits, and others 50-100 hours of study.

Undergraduate Programs

  • Online and on-campus bachelor's degree programs are available.
  • These degree programs typically last 124 credit hours.

Medical Transcriptionist

Medical transcription allows you to work out of your home or at a facility like a hospital or physician's office. A medical transcriptionist listens to recorded notes made by doctors and nurses and types them in the form of medical reports, correspondence, or other necessary written material. To become a medical transcriptionist, you will need to pursue postsecondary training, which is often available as a certificate or associate's degree program.

During one of these programs, you'll learn about the English language, medical terminology, anatomy, and healthcare information legal issues. Some programs also incorporate work experience. Although it's not required, you may choose to earn a certification, such as the Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), demand for medical transcriptionists will decline, from 2014-2024, at a rate of 3%. The median wage, as of May 2016, was $35,720, according to the BLS.

Physician's Assistant

Physician's assistants (PAs) help doctors with examinations, treatment, and diagnosis. These professionals receive 2 years of training during a master's degree program at colleges, medical schools, and universities. These programs are generally designed for people who already have work experience in healthcare, and they include supervised clinical training, laboratory instruction, and classroom lectures. PA master's degree programs cover topics that include pharmacology, medical ethics, physical diagnosis, pathology, and clinical medicine.

In order to get the licensure needed to work in the field, students must then pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). Continuing education and recertification exams are required to maintain licensure. The boom in the healthcare industry will create increased demand for physician's assistants, with the projected job growth at 30% between 2014 and 2024, according to the BLS. This is much faster than average. The BLS reported in May 2016 that physician's assistants earned a median wage of $101,480.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

An LPN helps monitor patients, provide basic care, and assist them with daily activities, such as dressing, eating, and bathing. This career only requires the completion of a practical nursing training program offered at a community college or trade school, as well as licensure, which is achieved by passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN). A diploma or certificate program usually includes clinical experience and coursework as students learn about pharmacology, nursing, and biology.

The BLS reports that LPNs and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) will see good job prospects, from 2014 through 2024, with very fast growth of 16% projected. The median wage for these professionals was $44,090 as of May 2016.

Registered Nurse (RN)

As an RN, you'd work with physicians to observe patients, track their medical histories, make patient care plans, use medical equipment, perform medical tests, and give patients advice. To become an RN, you will need to obtain an associate's degree in nursing through a community college or hospital training program and then pass the NCLEX-RN. If desired, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) may be earned so the aspiring RN may have even more career flexibility and advancement opportunities. There is even a master's degree in nursing for nurses wishing to rise to the top of their profession. According to the BLS, registered nurses will experience faster-than-average employment growth at a rate of 16%, from 2014 through 2024. The BLS also reported a median wage of $68,450 as of May 2016.

Alternative Medicine

If you are interested in some of the alternative medical treatments gaining increased popularity and respect these days, you may wish to check into courses and certification programs offered in disciplines such as homeopathy, acupuncture, therapeutic massage, chiropractic medicine, and herbal healing.

Medical transcriptionist, physician's assistant, licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, and alternative medicine practitioner are all potential job titles for those in medical careers. To become employed, students will need an appropriate degree or certificate depending on the position they apply for.

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