The choice to pursue a healthcare degree is a solid one. The healthcare field is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy and so you will likely not have the same difficulty finding a job that graduates in other fields do. But maybe none of the usual medical degrees are of any interest to you. In that case, perhaps you should consider these less-common, but no less rewarding, healthcare education options.
Orthotics and Prosthetics
These professionals design and fit patients with individualized prosthetics or other medical support devices, like braces. You will be taught about the various materials that can be used for these devices so you'll be able to choose the right materials for each individual prosthetic. Like all medical professions that work with patients, you have to be good with people because you will be dealing with many hurting and upset individuals who have just had their lives turned upside down by the loss of a body part.
You will need a master's degree in orthotics and prosthetics to enter this occupation. You must also complete a residency and obtain certification. Accreditation from the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (ABC) can increase your job prospects. Technicians might only require an associate's degree and might get on-the-job training.
Healthcare administration is a different kind of healthcare degree in which rather than learning how to treat patients, you instead learn how to handle the management side of the healthcare field. These programs prepare students to manage the day-to-day operations of healthcare facilities. You might manage an entire facility or just a department.
This educational path combines medical-specific knowledge with the general administration knowledge of business degrees, such as finance and staffing. This is also a career for a people person, as healthcare administrators manage staff as well as interact with patients, their families and insurance companies. You will need a bachelor's degree to enter this field, although master's degrees are not uncommon.
You can become a medical technologist with just an associate's degree, although a bachelor's degree will open other career options for you. These programs train you to operate varying types of medical equipment, and you can specialize. For example, you can become a radiologic and MRI technologist, who perform diagnostic imaging examinations of patients.
You might work in a lab where you perform tests on various bodily fluids to check for abnormalities. All medical technologists are responsible for maintaining and cleaning equipment. This career will take you behind the scenes while still providing a valuable and potentially lifesaving service to patients. You can become a certified medical technologist through the American Medical Technologists professional organization. Some states require medical technology certification.
Respiratory Therapy Certification
Respiratory therapists can work with a number of different types of patients who need their assistance. For example, they can work with infants - monitoring the status of and assisting babies who have been born with heart or lung problems. They can help patients of any age manage chronic conditions that make breathing more difficult, such as asthma or emphysema.
Finally, they can work with older patients who have diseased lungs or other issues breathing. To become a respiratory therapist, you typically need an associate's degree although you can also get a bachelor's. You also will need to obtain state licensure and get the proper certification: certified respiratory therapist (CRT) and/or registered respiratory therapist (RRT).
If you've looked at the "typical" healthcare degrees, like an MD or nursing, and found none of them are really what you want to do with your life, then perhaps consider one of these less-common options. They may not be as popular but they can still make quite a difference in people's lives. The competition for positions that require less-common degrees is also likely to be less than in more popular professions.