Great Alternatives to Becoming a Doctor

Image by Ilmicrofono Oggiono, Flickr

Image by Ilmicrofono Oggiono, Flickr

As a freshman entering college, it seems as though a large percentage of students are just starting on their career path towards becoming a doctor. It can feel like nearly every declared biology and/or chemistry major has goals set on a luxurious specialized practice after ten plus years of hard studying.

Needless to say, not many actually achieve this goal. Aside from an average minimum GPA of 3.5 and a MCAT score somewhere in the 70th or 80th percentile, students are also strongly encouraged to spend a lot of time volunteering in a hospital setting, completing research, and building a strong resume. For many students that must work part-time just to afford school, this can be an insurmountable task.

There is good news though. Nearly every aspect of the healthcare industry is expected to grow over the next ten years. More than that, in the United States with baby boomers reaching retirement age and the implementation of The Affordable Healthcare Act, there couldn’t be a better time to become a healthcare professional without attending medical school.

Here are a few different positions where those interested in healthcare can expect the market to continue to grow over the next decade.

Physical Therapist

Physical therapists are medical professionals that help individuals to maintain or recover movement and manage pain. Typically, physical therapists treat a variety of patients from a number of different scenarios ranging from car accidents to old age. With baby boomers reaching the age in which movement starts to become difficult a 39% increase in physical therapists is projected, especially in rural areas.

In most states the typical physical therapist needs three years of coursework after undergraduate education to become a licensed physical therapist. They can work in nearly every hospital setting including private offices, clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes. The average physical therapist makes approximately $76,000 annually.

Nurse Midwife

The idea of becoming a nurse midwife might sound somewhat ancient to some people. However, nurse midwives are a playing a major role in the healthcare industry. With an advanced degree in female health issues, nurse midwives are helping women with adolescent issues, maternity and childbirth, and menopause. The job market is projected to increase by 26% in the next ten years.

To become a nurse midwife, it is necessary to first become a registered nurse. After a few years of experience it is possible to go back to school and complete a certification program. The extra education tends to be well worth it as the average nurse midwife makes $114,000 annually.

Medical Assistant

Medical assistants are probably one of the most versatile positions within the healthcare industry. These medical professionals typically work in various doctor’s offices and occasionally hospitals to provide assistance to the leading health care physician in the form of both administrative and medical tasks. Often times this position requires individuals to check patients in, taking vital signs, and updating medical records.

This profession requires a bit less schooling, usually just a two-year associates degree followed by a certification examination. Salaries can range pretty widely based upon the setting in which you are working. However, it will typically range between $22,000 and $32,000 annually.

Healthcare Informatics

For those people that like the idea of working to improve the lives of people, but do not handle sick and in pain patients well, perhaps a career in healthcare informatics is more ideal. Healthcare informatics professionals generally deal more with the technical and organizational side of hospitals. The day-to-day work of the career can vary widely, ranging from managing patient records to maintain confidentiality all the way to researching health care costs and trends.

The healthcare informatics field is expected to increase by 21% between 2010 and 2020. Typically these specialists need some form of technical work experience and often a degree beyond undergraduate education to manage. The average healthcare informatics tech earns around $70,000 annually.

This article was submitted by guest author Brittni Brown.

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