Links and Print Version

See also What can I do with a major in medical fields?

Area
Employer
Information/Strategies

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy involves treatment through physical means for people disabled by illness, accident, or congenital handicap. Physical therapy seeks to improve mobility, relieve pain, or minimize permanent physical disabilities.

  • Clinical Practice:
    • Acute care
    • Rehab/Subacute Rehab
    • Extended Care
    • Wellness and Prevention
    • Sports and Fitness
  • Management
  • Education
  • Research
  • Consultation
  • Specialties Include:
    • Pediatrics
    • Geriatrics
    • Sports Medicine
    • Orthopedics
    • Neurology
    • Cardio Vascular and Pulminary
    • Women’s Health
    • Clinical Electrophysiology
  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient clinics/private practice
  • Home healthcare agencies
  • Nursing and residential care facilities
  • Sports and fitness facilities
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Physician offices, particularly orthopedic
  • Hospices
  • Schools
  • Universities and colleges
  • Federal and state government:
    • Department of Defense
    • Public Health Service
    • Veterans Health Administration
    • Indian Health Services
  • Earn a doctorate in physical therapy (DPT) from a program accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association.
  • Programs include supervised clinical experiences.
  • All states require licensure which includes passing the National Physical Therapy Examination.
  • Approximately one third of physical therapists work in hospitals and another third in physical therapy offices.
  • Obtain knowledge of several basic sciences including anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, and physics.
  • Attain superior grades in pre-physical therapy course work due to intense competition for admittance to physical therapy programs.
  • Volunteer for a physical therapist in a hospital or clinic to gain experience and improve chances of acceptance into a program. Many programs require volunteer experiences and a good understanding of the field for admission.
  • Develop strong interpersonal and communication skills. Must possess patience and a desire to help individuals of all ages with disabilities. A positive attitude is important when working with patients.
  • Manual dexterity and physical stamina are important in succeeding in physical therapy work.
  • Some physical therapists complete a clinical residency after PT school to gain training and experience in a specialty. Fellowships in advanced clinical areas after residency are also available.


Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is the treatment of people who are unable to perform some everyday functions due to injury, illness, or disability. Occupational therapists utilize activities with specific goals to enhance the quality of life and increase the in- dependence of individuals who have a mentally, emotionally, or physically disabling condition.

  • Screening
  • Evaluation
  • Treatment:
    • Physical
    • Psychosocial
    • Social
    • Vocational
  • Follow-up
  • Administration
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Specialties Include:
    • Geriatrics
    • Pediatrics
    • Mental Health
    • Work and Industry
    • Health and Wellness
    • Low Vision
    • Hand Therapy
    • Driver Rehabilitation
  • Hospitals (including psychiatric and rehabilitative)
  • Schools
  • Out-patient rehabilitation facilities
  • Group or private practice
  • Nursing and residential treatment facilities
  • Community mental health centers
  • Adult daycare programs
  • Job training centers
  • Home healthcare agencies
  • Federal and state government:
    • Department of Defense
    • Public Health Service
    • Veterans Health Administration
  • Universities and colleges
  • Earn a master’s (MOT, MA, MS) or doctoral (OTD, less common) degree in occupational therapy to gain entry in the field.
  • Programs include supervised clinical fieldwork.
  • All states regulate licensure which requires passing an exam given by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.
  • Those who have passed the exam become Occu- pational Therapists Registered (OTR).
  • Build a solid foundation in physical, biological, and behavioral sciences.
  • Volunteer in an occupational therapy or related healthcare setting to experience the field first- hand and improve chances of program admittance.
  • Develop excellent communication skills which are important when interacting with patients and their families.
  • Individuals working in occupational therapy should possess patience and a true interest in helping people with disabilities reach their full potential.
  • Learn to work well within a team. OT’s work with many other professionals, including physicians, physical therapists, and social workers in the rehabilitation of patients.
  • Occupational therapists may choose to specialize in a particular age group or type of disability.
  • Doctoral degree is often preferred for university teaching and administration positions.


Cytotechnology

Cytotechnologists are highly skilled laboratory professionals who study the patterns of disease progression found in human cells. They detect subtle changes and clues within cells. With expert eyes, the cytotechnologist looks for the smallest abnormalities in color, shape, and size that may indicate clinically significant conditions. This profession provides the potential to help save lives by discovering disease early and uncovering information that informs effective treatment.

  • Screening and Diagnosis:
    • Cancer
    • Pre-cancerous abnormalities
    • Benign tumors or growths
    • Infectious organisms and inflammatory conditions
  • Evaluation of Tissue:
    • Bladder
    • Body cavities
    • Bone and soft tissue
    • Breast
    • Central nervous system
    • Female reproductive tract
    • Gastrointestinal tract
    • Liver
    • Lung
    • Lymph nodes
    • Pancreas
    • Salivary glands
    • Thyroid
  • Technological Equipment Operation:
    • Light microscopes
    • Biomedical instrumentation
    • Laboratory information systems
  • Molecular Diagnostic Testing
  • Hospital and private laboratories
  • Federal and state government laboratories
  • Public health facilities
  • Research and biotechnology industry
  • Healthcare administrative departments
  • Educational institutions
  • Earn a Bachelor or Master of Science in Cytotechnology from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Prepare for and pass the certification examination given by the American Society for Clinical Pathology’s Board of Certification.
  • Supplement curriculum with courses in biology that emphasize body structure, development, tissue organization, and function. Recommended courses include histology, cellular biology, and
    genetics. Additional recommendations may include other biological sciences such as
    zoology or ecology.
  • Become comfortable with applied learning techniques. Most programs utilize a combination of training activities such as microscopic evaluation, laboratory skills development, case presentations, research, community health projects, and supervised clinical laboratory site experiences.
  • Develop problem solving as well as effective written and verbal communication skills.
  • Display personal characteristics such as accuracy, responsibility, and motivation. Become comfortable making important decisions.
  • Plan to learn new technology and techniques to stay abreast of developments in the field.
  • Specialty certifications exist for those who want supervisory or other advanced positions.


Dental Hygiene

Dental hygienists help people of all ages maintain optimal oral health by working with dentists to prevent and treat tooth decay, periodontal disease, oral cancer, and other conditions that affect oral function.

Specific areas of activity for dental hygienists include:

  • Gathering data for a dental diagnosis
  • Recording medical and dental histories
  • Screening and charting oral structures and conditions
  • Exposing and processing oral radiographs
  • Dietary analysis
  • Providing oral disease prevention information and instruction
  • Monitoring oral health status of individuals
  • Providing therapeutic services
  • Removing calculus and plaque from the teeth
  • Applying fluoride and dental sealants to the teeth
  • Private dental offices and dental clinics
  • Federal, state, and local health departments or associated institutions
  • Hospitals and nursing homes
  • School districts or departments of education
  • Private business/industry
  • Correctional facilities
  • Private and public centers for pediatric, geriatric, and other individuals or groups with special needs
  • Managed care organizations
  • Associate’s or bachelor’s degree is required to enter the field in nearly all states.
  • A passing score on the Dental Hygiene National Board Examination and state or regional clinical examination is also required for licensure as a Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH).
  • The scope of practice for dental hygienists is determined by individual states.
  • Opportunities for practice are available throughout the world, particularly with the military, the US government, and US owned corporations.
  • A master’s degree in dental hygiene is available at some institutions.
  • Dental hygienists with bachelor’s or master’s degrees may work in teaching, research or administrative positions.
  • Develop strong interpersonal and communication skills and an attention to detail.


Health Information Management and Health Informatics

HIM and informatics professionals play critical roles in maintaining, collecting, and analyzing the data that doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers rely on in the delivery of quality health-care.

  • Patient Health Information Management
  • Operations/ Medical Records Administration
  • Health Information Technology/Infrastructure
  • Computer Information Systems Management
  • Revenue Cycle Management/Billing and Coding
  • Personnel and Budget Administration
  • Quality Management and Improvement
  • Risk Management and Compliance
  • Privacy and Security
  • Utilization Review
  • Health Informatics Specialties Include:  Clinical, Clinical Research, Consumer Health, Dental Mental Health, Nursing, Pharmacy, Primary Care, Public Health, Telemedicine and Mobile Computing, Translational Bioinformatics, and          Veterinary
  • Management
  • Research
  • Hospitals
  • Physician offices and clinics
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Insurance companies
  • Government agencies
  • Home care providers
  • Behavioral health facilities
  • Information systems vendors
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Research facilities
  • Consulting firms
  • Educational institutions
  • Earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in Health Information Management or Health Informatics from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).
  • A passing score on a national examination is required for certification as a Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA).
  • Visit a health information management department in a hospital to better understand the role of health information managers.
  • Research career opportunities through The American Health Information Management Association and The American College of Medical Informatics.
  • Develop strong oral and written communication skills, interpersonal skills, orientation to detail, flexibility, and advanced technology skills.
  • Federal legislation regarding Electronic Health Records (EHRs) has transformed this field in recent years.


Clinical Laboratory Science

Clinical laboratory scientists, also known as medical technologists, work together with other members of the healthcare team to perform and supervise laboratory analyses on blood, body fluids, and tissue. They also provide data to detect, diagnose, and monitor disease. Medical technologists use medical equipment such as microscopes, computers, and other highly technical instruments to assist them in their work.

  • Hematology
  • Immunohematology (Blood Banking)
  • Microbiology
  • Clinical Chemistry
  • Immunology
  • Urinalysis
  • Mycology
  • Parasitology
  • Histocompatibility
  • Molecular Diagnostics
  • Laboratory product development and sales
  • Hospital and private laboratories
  • Public health laboratories
  • Biotechnology industry
  • Pharmaceutical and chemical companies
  • Research and forensic laboratories
  • Veterinary clinics
  • Transplant and blood donor centers
  • Fertility clinics
  • Universities and colleges
  • Earn a bachelor’s degree in medical technology from a program accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).
  • Be prepared to participate in supervised clinical experiences.
  • Many states require a license to practice. Obtain licensure by passing a certification exam given by the American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Certification.
  • Attain good grades in pre-medical technology course work, including biology, anatomy, physiology, and general and organic chemistry.
  • Develop manual dexterity, fine motor skills, and an attention to detail. Be willing to work in a fast-paced environment.
  • Visit a clinical laboratory. Talk with practitioners to gain critical knowledge of the profession.


Nuclear Medicine Technology

Nuclear medicine is a highly specialized field that involves preparing and administering radioactive chemical compounds (radiopharmaceuticals) and performing imaging procedures using radiation-detecting equipment. Nuclear Medicine Technologists process data and provide images, analysis, and patient information to physicians who make diagnoses.

  • Diagnosis and Treatment (some applications):
    • Neurology
    • Oncology
    • Orthopedic
    • Renal
    • Cardiac
    • Pulmonary
  • Specialties:
    • Nuclear cardiology
    • Positron emission tomography (PET)
  • Clinical Research
  • Education
  • Administration
  • Training
  • Sales
  • Community hospitals
  • Teaching hospitals
  • Medical centers
  • Public health institutions
  • Research institutes
  • Outpatient imaging facilities
  • Medical and diagnostic laboratories
  • Physician offices
  • Private clinics
  • Commercial radiopharmaceutical suppliers
  • Nuclear imaging equipment manufacturers
  • Secure a strong foundation in science and mathematics, along with interests in computer technology and medicine.
  • Develop strong interpersonal skills, as nuclear medicine technologists work directly with patients interviewing and providing instruction.
  • Conduct informational interviews or shadowing experiences with professionals, and plan to tour nuclear medicine facilities to confirm interest in the field.
  • Seek volunteer experience in a clinical setting, nuclear medicine if possible.
  • Earn a degree from a program accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology (JRCNMT).
  • Seek certification through one of two national accrediting agencies: Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB) or The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT); certification requirements vary by state and employer.
  • Consider specializing further in nuclear cardiology or positron emission tomography (PET).
  • Approximately two-thirds of Nuclear Medicine Technologists work in hospitals. Professionals may be on call in some hospital settings.
  • Part-time or shift work may be available.