The world of medicine is expansive and fascinating, with a multitude of different disciplines and fields. When you think of medical careers, you might think of regular doctors, nurses, pharmacists and the clinical staff you meet when you walk into a hospital.
But if you dig deeper, you’ll discover a huge array of exciting career paths. These roles are far removed from regular doctors and nurses. From medical perfusionists and illustrators to biomedical engineers and certified phlebotomists, the medical world has some incredible jobs out there for those with the right set of skills and personal aptitudes.
If you’ve ever considered entering the medical profession but aren’t sure where to start, these career paths are surely worth a look. Many of them require some extensive qualifications, but some – like phlebotomy – have training courses the last less than a year. You could be working in medicine this time next year!
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In this article, we’re going to take a look at the ten most fascinating medical careers out there. If you’re looking for a career change or hoping to retrain later in life, these exciting medical roles may be just the thing for you.
Medicine is not renowned as a particularly creative field. It’s very disciplined and strict, with facts and rules taking precedence over creativity and imagination. But there’s one very creative job – that of a medical illustrator. If you have an in-depth knowledge of biology and a love of fine art, this role could be for you.
Medical illustrators create drawings and other graphic representations of body parts for a multitude of purposes. They can be used in textbooks, posters, informative literature, and even legal proceedings.
In the past, medical illustrators may have created their drawings by hand, but now they rely on incredibly precise graphic design software. These extremely detailed drawings are often three-dimensional, and so accurate that they could be blueprints of the real thing.
Most medical illustrators will need a Master’s in Medical Illustration. There are just five of these courses available in the US, and they’re very selective. But if you’re good enough, and have the grades, you too could be considered.
This interesting medical career path is not well-known as a profession – but it doesn’t make their work any less vital. Biomedical engineers are tasked with designing and developing artificial organs and body parts. They’re also among the best-paid professionals in the medical industry.
When you think of the word ‘engineer’, you might think of someone fixing a vehicle or developing a machine. Biomedical engineers leverage their technical skills and their medical knowledge to create amazing healthcare solutions. From artificial lymph nodes to the growth of real human organs using tissue and stem cells, the work of a biomedical engineer is incredibly complex and vital.
You’ll need a degree in biomedical engineering, but the extra years of study should be worth it. The average salary for a biomedical engineer is reported to be $91,230!
When you think of open-heart surgery, you picture the lead surgeon as the person saving the day. But their work would be impossible without the actions of their medical perfusionist. A medical perfusionist is a person tasked with keeping the cardiopulmonary bypass machine working throughout open-heart surgery. That’s no mean feat!
It takes someone special to be able to operate the enormously sophisticated equipment that allows a surgeon to operate on a heart that isn’t beating. The perfusionist is the person responsible for keeping the blood and oxygen circulating the patient’s body while their heart is being operated on.
They must also monitor things like blood pressure, heart rate and blood gases throughout the entire surgery.To become a perfusionist, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree – but there are some certificate programs which last for a year offered by certain universities and medical schools.
Blood tests are a crucial part of medicine. Imagine how many illnesses would go undiagnosed if we couldn’t take blood tests? Phlebotomists are the professionals responsible for collecting blood samples, as well as sending the samples off to the lab.
A phlebotomist’s job may sound simple, but there are a multitude of issues which can make their task more complicated. Many people are terrified of needles and will need some comfort and reassurance before allowing their blood to be taken.
Taking blood samples from children and the elderly can also be tricky. Then there’s applying dressings properly, and labeling the blood samples accurately. It’s a very important job and must be carried out with utmost precision and attention-to-detail.
The good news is that training to be a phlebotomist couldn’t be simpler. You can become certified in as little as eight months (longer if you take a degree at a top college), and you could enjoy all the benefits of being self-employed once you qualify. It’s little wonder so many people are looking into training as phlebotomists.
Everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer – perhaps you’ve even suffered from it yourself. A medical dosimetrist plays a vital role in helping cancer patients to recover. They’re the ones responsible for administering radiation therapy, calculating how to distribute the radiation and how to minimize the negative effects of the treatment.
Using sophisticated three-dimension computer modeling techniques and a range of highly complex simulations, medical dosimetrists can ensure that radiation treatment plans work as they were intended to. They’re also experts in calibrating and configuring radiation machinery, and many choose to supervise treatment of their patients, too.
You’ll need a four-year degree in the physical sciences to become a medical dosimetrist. Then you’ll need to take a specialist medical dosimetrist program, which can last for up to two years. It’s a long road to becoming qualified in this field, but it’s certainly a worthwhile career path.
An orthotist is the person who designs and creates artificial limbs for patients. Prosthetics are becoming increasingly popular for those who have experienced an amputation. These important technicians are the ones tasked with creating comfortable, functional arms and legs for those who need them most.
As you can imagine, orthotists must use a lot of very specialized machinery and some complicated computer programs to create the prosthetics. But the results are often life-changing for the patient. This is a very rewarding career path, and a great choice if you’re thinking about joining the medical industry later in life.
You’ll need a master’s degree to work as an orthotist. You could also work as a prosthetic technician if you have an associate degree. Some states require licensing, while others allow prosthetic technicians to train on the job.
Yes, you read that correctly! There is such a thing as a space psychologist. These are the professionals who assess astronauts to decide whether or not they’re suitable for a particular mission. This role focuses on mental and psychological factors, rather than physical ones, and it’s an important role for organizations like NASA.
There is a rigorous selection process for astronauts, and anyone with an existing psychological condition will be immediately disqualified. This is because the stressful conditions of space travel can exacerbate these conditions, and could pose a risk to the astronaut. So it’s up to the space psychologists to gauge whether each candidate possesses the mental state required for a trip to space.
This is such an unusual position that there are no particular qualifications needed. You’ll obviously need to have extensive experience of psychology – and perhaps some connections over at NASA!
If you have medical credentials and also a passion for music, a career in music therapy could be the role for you. Music therapy is coming into its own as a treatment for all kinds of physical and psychological conditions. It’s been proven to help patients recovering from brain injuries and strokes, as well as having a positive effect on those with chronic pain and PTSD.
Many people think that a career in medicine will involve a long white coat and lots of time in the hospital or the lab. But music therapy is a different type of medical career that is less stressful. There are dozens of courses all over the country for those who want to become qualified. You’ll also need to be certified by the Certification Board for Music Therapists. If you strongly believe in the power of music, why not consider this fascinating career route?
If you’re already qualified as a doctor, taking your skills overseas where they’re needed most can be a fascinating move.
You could join Doctors Without Borders, an organization providing medical assistance to those in war-torn countries. You could head to Nicaragua or Tanzania and gain experience in the field of tropical medicine. It’s also possible to become a medic supporting expedition crews all over the globe. The possibilities are endless.
This interesting medical career is obviously suitable for those who already have quite a lot of experience as a doctor. But if you’re currently training in medicine and thinking about your options after you’ve qualified, this is a fantastic option. Your work will be incredibly worthwhile, and you’ll get to see the world, too.
Treating a patient with a language barrier can be tough. That’s why hospitals all over the globe need medical interpreters and translators on their staff. Interpreters are needed to facilitate conversations between doctors and patients, and everything they say must be incredibly accurate and translated perfectly.
This is a very interesting career choice for those who want to enter the world of medicine, but don’t necessarily have medical credentials. You’ll need to be able to speak several different languages, for starters. You’ll also need to take classes to learn some complex medical terminology so that you can understand what doctors are saying when they talk about test results, diagnoses, and treatments.
There are formal certificates available for these roles, but they’re not strictly necessary. You’ll get to spend most of your working day in a hospital or clinic, helping support patients and medical professionals alike. What could be more rewarding?
It’s never too late to try a new career path. If any of the interesting careers in medicine listed above have caught your eye, why not give it a shot?
Of course, for some of the more specialist roles, you’ll need to be prepared to put in the time to become qualified. You can’t just walk into a lab and start your career as a biomedical engineer, or start designing prosthetics as an orthotist. Many of these jobs will require extensive training – but they’ll be worth it when you become certified and can enjoy your unusual new career.
Then there are roles which don’t require as much training. Medical translation is more about the number of languages you can speak than any particular medical training. If you’re bilingual and looking for a new challenge, this could be the perfect opportunity for you.
Phlebotomists can also be trained relatively quickly, achieving certification more quickly than in comparable professions. In 1 to 3 years, depending on how you decide to train, you could get your exciting new medical career up and running!
The world of medicine yields a multitude of exciting and unusual jobs. If you’re tired of your office job or looking for a new position that will stimulate you, the medical profession is a great place to start.
It’s possible to become an overseas doctor administering aid to those who need it most. You could be a perfusionist, responsible for keeping a patient alive while their heart is being operated on. You could even apply to become a space psychologist. The options are endless for those with the determination and skill to achieve the right qualifications.
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