Lesser-Known Career Paths for Medical Students
The medical field is known for lucrative careers and job stability. Strong demand for qualified healthcare professionals ensures that most people who graduate from medical training programs will find suitable employment and earn strong salaries. Healthcare also attracts people who want to pursue a profession that allows them to help others.
When asked to list common medical professionals, most people think of traditional nurses and doctors. Still, there are actually many other medical careers those who want to work in healthcare can pursue. There are also opportunities for individuals to combine their experience and use other training to benefit the medical industry.
Unconventional Nursing Opportunities
Registered nurses (RNs) are medical professionals who provide direct patient care. They monitor patients, alert doctors to concerns, update patient charts and help administer medical tests. RNs must earn a nursing diploma, associate’s degree in nursing, or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree and obtain a license to work as a nurse.
Although most RNs work in hospitals, there are also opportunities for concierge nurses. Patients may consult a concierge nurse directly to receive appropriate medical care without going to the hospital. Concierge nurses can also provide home care for patients or assist patients who need to be transported.
RNs can also continue their education and become nurse practitioners (NPs). Nurse practitioners are qualified to evaluate patients, prescribe medication, develop treatment plans, and order medical tests. NPs provide primary medical care for many patients.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for RNs was $73,300 in 2019, and RNs could expect to see a seven percent job growth rate between 2019 and 2029. The BLS also reported that NPs took home median annual salaries of $109,820 in 2019, and job opportunities for NPs were expected to increase by 52 percent from 2019 to 2029.
Orthotists and Prosthetists
Amputees can benefit from a prosthesis that replaces a missing limb. Orthotists and prosthetists are healthcare professionals who fit patients with these devices, such as braces and artificial limbs. They fit patients with prosthetic and orthopedic devices and teach patients how to take care of the device. If necessary, they adjust the device to ensure it fits and functions correctly. Over time, they may also modify or replace devices.
Orthotists and prosthetists earned median annual incomes of $68,410 in 2019 and should see jobs increase by 17 percent between 2019 and 2029. These healthcare professionals must earn a master’s degree in their field and complete a residency in orthotics or prosthetics.
Physical therapists are healthcare experts who must earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree and be licensed. They evaluate patients, develop treatment plans, and oversee or implement treatment for their patients. Physical therapists may use stretches, exercises, and technology as part of their physical therapy treatment. For example, thanks to top bionics companies, physical therapists can use exoskeletons to treat patients. The robot exoskeleton provides support. Its sensors and actuators work together to help patients stand and move. Thanks to robotic exoskeletons from Ekso Bionics, a person with a spinal cord injury (SCI) can strengthen muscles while relearning how to walk. Wheelchair users can stand and move. These wearable robots make it possible for physical therapy patients to build their endurance and muscles safely.
From 2019 to 2029, the BLS expects job opportunities for physical therapists will increase by 18 percent. In 2019, the median annual income for these healthcare professionals was $89,410.
Respiratory therapists can enter their field with an associate’s degree and a license. They provide medical care for people who have breathing issues. Their patients may include individuals diagnosed with emphysema or asthma. Respiratory therapists collaborate with doctors to develop care plans, treat patients, teach patients how to use medical equipment, and update patient records.
According to the BLS, the 2019 median income for respiratory therapists was $61,330 per year. The BLS projects job opportunities for these healthcare professionals will increase by 19 percent between 2019 and 2029.
According to the BLS, job opportunities for lawyers will increase by four percent between 2019 and 2029. The BLS reported that lawyers took home median incomes of $122,960 per year in 2019.
Medical students can opt to pursue a wide range of careers. Less common medical careers include concierge nurses, orthotists, prosthetists, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, or healthcare lawyers.