Healthcare will be one of the fastest-growing industries in the years to come, but the expected job growth isn’t limited to doctors and nurses. Health sciences is a fast-growing field that encompasses a broad range of rewarding opportunities for graduates. Unlike traditional medical careers, health sciences graduates often work on the supporting or research end of healthcare. From maintaining the medical equipment doctors use to treat their patients to organizing studies to gather disease data, health sciences professionals play many essential roles. The field is so broad, though, that there are many jobs and specialties that students might not be aware of. Here are a few that you might want to consider if you’re looking for a career in healthcare, but haven’t yet found one that speaks to you:
Most of us have an idea about what athletic trainers do, but what’s often overlooked is how much opportunity this field provides health science graduates. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the field will grow by 23% in the next 8 years—much faster than most others. Most of these opportunities will come purely from job growth, as most athletic trainers love their job; turnover rates are often much lower than in other professions. Plus, their job might be more comprehensive than you might think. Many athletic trainers work with law enforcement or retired military veterans who need help with rehabilitation. They also frequently work with insurance companies, many of which consider them official healthcare providers. Beyond professional sports, you can find athletic trainers working in fitness and recreation centers, universities, and hospitals. To be an athletic trainer, students must graduate with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program, and pass a board certification. For those seeking to grow in their career, many athletic trainers go on to become athletic directors or physicians.
Medical Records and Health Information Specialist
Behind every patient visit, or conversation between a hospital and an insurance company, these are the professionals that handle the information. Medical Records and Health Information Specialists are responsible for patient data, and they use a series of classification systems to organize and retrieve it. While they don’t treat patients directly, they frequently work with doctors and nurses to clarify a diagnosis or collect a patient’s medical history. There are even sub-specialties in this discipline. For example, medical coders work explicitly with assigning patient diagnoses and procedure codes so that medical histories stay up-to-date. And cancer registrars help doctors track treatment, survival, and recovery information, which is used by researchers to improve care and treatment options for cancer patients. This career is ideal for detail-oriented, analytical thinkers who thrive on interpreting data, organizing information, and collaborating with other professionals to retrieve the records they need.
If you want to work in healthcare and love numbers, this might be an ideal career for you. Every medical research project and case study requires many important decisions to be made—how to collect the data to be analyzed, where to retrieve it, what tests or questions to ask, and how to summarize the findings. Biostatisticians handle all of these tasks and more. They don’t just retrieve and organize numbers, though. Data used in medical studies often comes from very different sources. Biostatisticians have to be creative problem-solvers to filter and organize the information into usable records for each project. Biostatisticians rely heavily on their skills in mathematics and statistics, and many jobs in the field require a post-graduate degree. Check out our Introduction to Statistics course to get started building a solid foundation.
Genetic research has made incredible leaps in recent years—making genetic counseling one of the fastest-growing fields in health science today. These professionals help screen patients for inherited conditions, and conduct tests designed to assess their patients’ risk levels for certain conditions. They work closely with DNA testers to obtain information for their evaluations, and then work with their patients to develop appropriate screening or treatment options. You’ll find genetic counselors in nearly every field of clinical medicine, from oncology to pediatrics.
Nutritionists work in one of the fastest growing industries in the health sciences today—and most start working in their profession after they receive a bachelor’s degree. As the demand for nutritionists and dieticians continues to grow, their job duties and work environment are also expanding. Beyond assisting clients with developing meal plans and healthy eating habits, for example, community nutritionists do a lot of social outreach, informing the public about the links between food and health. Management dietitians, on the other hand, are responsible for balancing factors like budgeting and food sourcing to create meal plans for hospitals, schools, and cafeterias. Nutritionists thrive on their problem-solving abilities, and the ability to balance the varied needs of each of their clients. They’re also great communicators who spend a lot of time sharing their expertise with the public. As more healthcare institutions look for more preventative measures to fight diseases and illnesses, there’s never been a better time to join this growing field. You may want to check out our Introduction to Nutrition course to get started building a solid background in this field.
Have you ever seen a doctor or surgeon speak into a digital recorder in the hospital hallways? Medical transcriptionists are the professionals who take those notes and turn them into written reports. It’s the job of a medical transcriptionist to take audio recordings from healthcare workers and turn them into patient records, referral letters, and discharge summaries. To do their job, they rely heavily on specialized software like speech recognition and data formatting to help prepare their documents. If you have an ear for understanding terminology and procedures and are a stickler for accuracy, this might be your calling. (Check out our Anatomy & Physiology I course to start learning the basics.)
This is an ideal health sciences field for anyone who is fascinated by the hidden world that’s revealed under a microscope. Cytotechnologists specialize in studying cells in the body, looking for patterns or abnormalities that indicate diseases or hidden conditions. Doctors and specialists rely heavily on cytotechnologists to make accurate diagnoses and start the right treatments for their patients. While cytotechnologists mostly work in a laboratory setting, they are constantly speaking with pathologists, laboratory technicians and hospital workers when reviewing samples and reporting their findings. If you’re good at detecting patterns—or very subtle irregularities—being a cytotechnologist might be for you. Take a look at our Microbiology course to take the first steps.