Alright, so you’re interested in the medical field, but you also march to the beat of a different drum. You’re simply not interested in doing the same thing everyone else does, whether that’s becoming an oncologist, an LPN, or even an EMT. You want to leave the beaten path. So what are you to do?
Well, how about doing something offbeat. Even within the carefully (and wisely) regulated world of medicine and health professionals there are certain careers that are naturals for the rebel in you. Here are five career paths that are clearly the road less taken.
Midwifery is a time honored profession that kind of fell by the wayside during the last century. As professionally trained and certified OB/GYNs became more readily available after the Victorian dark ages of women’s reproductive health, the folk medicine approach led to a steady shift to professionally trained doctors, and in many places, midwifery was banned outright as a safety measure. The midwife virtually died out.
Now, however, it is back. Over the past couple of decades there has been an increasing interest in the more personal and specialized approach of someone whose only job was maintaining a healthy pregnancy and childbirth. The Medical profession took notice of this and began creating programs to bring midwifery into the professionally trained and certified fold.
These days midwives are often certified nurses with specialized degrees. Certified Nurse Midwives attended over 300,000 births in 2011 alone, and that number is rising. If you find yourself fascinated with the miracle of childbirth but just don’t see yourself following the well beaten path of the OB/GYN, midwifery is the offbeat career for you.
#2 Medication Therapy Management
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For many people the corner pharmacist is someone in a white lab coat hanging out at the corner five and dime pushing pills over a countertop and muttering vague hints about loss of appetite, dizziness, mild itching, and sudden death. Many other members of the medical field even tend to question if Pharmacists really count. After all, they don’t diagnose, monitor, or otherwise do anything really medicalish other than push pills, right?
Well, the times, they are a changin’. Thanks to the critical shortage in doctors and nurses pharmacists are starting to look at how they can step up to the plate and reduce how much those other medical professionals have to shoulder. One approach is the Medication Therapy Management career.
No mere pill pusher, the MTM pharmacist specifically plans and monitors the medications being taken by patients over the long term. In this way they can continually watch for drug interactions, tailor dosage sizes to the specific individual, recommend medication changes based on budgetary needs or side effect mitigation needs, and create plans that ensure meds are being taken at the right time, in the right amount, in the right way. So if you would rather be a trail blazer than a trail follower, now’s the time to check it out.
#3 IT Geek
Okay, so “geek” is technically not the name for any career paths you’re likely to find in the want ads. Still, you’re interested in computers and tech and you want to get into the medical field. You just find that being around sick people turns you hypochondriac, so you really don’t want to become an X-Ray technician or something that deals with patients.
No problem. The medical world needs you. Health Informatics is a growing profession providing doctors, nurses, patients, administrators and more the benefits of Big Data. It’s taking the old country doctor and injecting him with 30ccs of data management.
The Health Informatics professional collects and digitizes medical information including patient health records, prescription data, and clinical research. Using data mining, simulation software, and other such geeky pastimes, this then can produce important policy data that can streamline the health process, reduce costs for hospitals and patients alike, warn of potential health crises before they become critical, and even lead to new forms of treatment. So if you want to work in the health field but can’t stomach sick people, this is the way to go.
#4 Doctor Nurse
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Okay, so you’re not sure if you want to be a doctor or a nurse. On the one hand, doctors get to call the shots, make the decisions that save lives, and wear a really cool stethoscope. Nurses, on the other hand, deal with the patients in a far more direct way, do the real work, and get to wear really comfy clothes all the time.
Why not break the rules and become both? With the increasing need for an ever shrinking number of doctors to go into increasingly needed specialties, many nurses are taking the step into taking on some of the roles that used to belong to Ph.Ds. In recognition of this the medical field has been increasingly interested in having LPNs trade up for a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.
Doctors of Nursing Practice are basically the old fashioned family doctor combined with the modern knowledge and skills of today’s practicing nurse. Unlike an LPN, a DNP is able to operate independently, diagnosing and treating common ailments, writing prescriptions, creating long term care programs, and generally letting the doctors go off to become left-thumb-joint-painologists. So if you’re at a fork in the road and just can’t figure out which way to take, split the difference. Go bushwhacking between them and forge your own path.
I imagine there are a few of you who think the ideal job is one where you can work in your grubbiest pair of jeans while wallowing on the couch. Hey, who wouldn’t? At least, as long as it didn’t involve licking envelopes all day. This isn’t quite that job, but the medical field actually can allow you to come close to that couch while doing something far more interesting through Telemedicine.
Health care professionals engaged in telemedicine use modern medical equipment remotely to be able to diagnose and even treat people from a distance. While this sounds like a mad, mad, whacky scheme, there’s a real medical reason for this to exist. The shortage in trained healthcare professionals is hitting small town and rural America far harder than the cities.
Telemedicine is helping to ensure that rural America still has access to the healthcare that it needs. Rather than having to pack up and drive several hours to reach an appointment with a specialist, a small town clinic with the right equipment can bring the specialist to the patient through remote systems. So if you’re already a health care professional wanting to serve remote communities but you like the big city lifestyle, steer your path on down the information superhighway and telecommute.
So the path is clear. If you don’t like the beaten one, but want to get into the medical profession, you can. Take the road less travelled, beat the bushes to carve out a new course, or split the difference. You have options, you just need to take them.