A guide for your medical career plans
If you're interested in a career in health care, you have a wide range of options, from pursuing the intensive training necessary to become a surgeon to completing a certificate or associate's degree and entering the field in under two years.
Medical Career Plans
If you're looking for a fulfilling, meaningful career opportunity in a consistently high-demand field, a medical education is a great place to start. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the current pace of growth in the medical industry is expected to continue for at least the next decade. Analysts predict that doctors, physiotherapists, and all kinds of medical researchers and caregivers will be a hot commodity--making medical studies a safe bet for job-seekers in the next several years.
Doctors, Surgeons & Medical Experts
The most visible, educated, and highest paid medical professions are physicians, surgeons, and medical specialists. From your local family doctor to a dermatologist to an ear, nose and throat specialist, all of these professionals must complete a four-year bachelor's program, followed by four years of medical studies and a three to eight year internship--at a minimum. They must also register with professional organizations in order to practice.
If you're interested in pursuing a career as a doctor or surgeon, you will need to consider the required courses for medical school and beyond. By completing undergraduate classes in biochemistry, physiology, anatomy, biology, psychology, epidemiology, and pharmacology, you will lay the groundwork for smoother medical school applications and studies.
Medical Assistants & Support Staff
Doctors may be the top of the pyramid in hospitals and other medical settings, but the everyday operations of clinics, blood labs, emergency rooms, and home care services rely on the hard work of nurses, nursing assistants, pharmacists, administrators, and a host of other medical staff. By handling most of the routine tasks of health care facilities, these essential support roles allow doctors and specialists to see more patients, provide a higher quality of care, and work more efficiently.
These careers typically require much less time spent on studies and training than what is required for doctors--anywhere from a year to eight years depending on the seniority and level of responsibility of the position--and you can usually start working immediately, often with a short paid internship at the end of professional studies.
Technicians, Researchers & Other Career Options
Outside of the most visible health care professions, there are a number of career paths that support medical progress and take care of vital procedures that go on behind the scenes.
Medical researchers work in pharmacology labs to find cures to the most deadly diseases, while technicians perform everything from routine blood test analysis to mammograms, ultrasounds, heart tests, and more. These types of technicians are highly trained in their specific area of expertise, but don't necessarily possess the level of education that a doctor or nurse practitioner has completed.
A background in biochemistry, physics, genetics, engineering, and other relevant subjects may come in handy, but specific requirements will depend on the tasks and machinery you'll be handling. Research technicians may have anything from a bachelor's degree to a master's or doctorate, and their qualifications will determine their employment status, salary, and amount of responsibility.
There are dozens of rewarding medical and health care careers available to anyone who is willing to obtain the right education, complete an internship, and work hard to obtain a position matched to their skills and interests. Starting a medical assistant program is becoming easier with all great programs available.
Healthcare • Bureau of Labor Statistics
Healthy Aging • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention