Hands-On Medical Careers

Those who work in hands-on medical care are professionals who are directly involved with performing medical tasks. This can include diagnosing individuals, completing tests or participating in the treatment of patients.

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Career Options for Hands-On Medical Careers

Hands-on medical careers involve providing direct patient care. Professionals may operate equipment, run tests, or perform other tasks that are required to provide health services to their patients.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2014-2024)*
Surgical Technologists $45,160 15%
Dentists $159,770 18%
Physical Therapists $85,400 34%
Speech-Language Pathologists $74,680 21%
Registered Nurses $68,450 16%
Physician Assistants $101,480 30%
EMTs and Paramedics $32,670 24%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Hands-On Medical Careers

Surgical Technologists

Surgical technologists assist surgeons with operations. They actively participate in preparing operating rooms and patients for surgeries, handing surgeons medical supplies during surgery, and applying bandages to patients' incisions following operations. These tasks make them an integral part of the medical team that's providing direct care to patients. They are typically required to have an associate's degree or certificate and can also benefit from certification to work in this field.


Dentists are medical professionals who are required to have a doctoral or professional degree in their field, as well as a license. Their focus is on treating patients with dental health issues. The types of tasks they perform may include administering anesthetics, removing decay, filling cavities, and repairing or removing teeth. They play a direct role in assessing patients and providing dental care.

Physical Therapists

Physical therapists are medical professionals whose focus is on their patients' mobility. They visually assess patients to identify issues affecting their ability to move or the source of their pain, and then they develop a plan to help their patients manage the pain or regain motor functions. As medical professionals who see and treat patients directly, they provide hands-on medical care and must have a doctoral or professional degree in the field and a license.

Speech-Language Pathologists

Speech-language pathologists can enter their profession with a master's degree. They work with people who have speech-related issues or problems swallowing. Once they've assessed and diagnosed a patient, they develop a treatment plan and work directly with patients to help them resolve or manage their condition.

Registered Nurses

Registered nurses play an important role by providing direct medical care to patients and assisting medical professionals with tests. They read and follow each patient's chart to ensure they receive the appropriate medication, food or prescribed treatment. Registered nurses also communicate with patients and check on their conditions regularly. To become a registered nurse, it's necessary to complete a diploma, associate's degree or bachelor's degree in nursing and earn a nursing license.

Physician Assistants

Physician assistants work on teams with doctors and other healthcare professionals. They can begin their career with a master's degree and license and are directly involved with treatment. They may diagnose patients, and they may also perform tasks such as assisting a doctor with a surgical procedure. Depending on where they work, they may be the primary medical care provider for their patients.

EMTs and Paramedics

EMTs and paramedics respond to emergencies, provide medical treatment, and may also take people who are ill or injured to the hospital in an ambulance. They must complete postsecondary training programs and be licensed. Since they are directly involved in assessing patients and providing medical care they are hands-on medical professionals.

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