As a high school student interested in helping others in a medical setting, becoming a physician may seem like a logical choice. However, after completing an undergraduate degree, four years of medical school and several years of residency, many med school grads are left with crippling debt and shockingly high malpractice insurance payments.
Fortunately, the healthcare industry offers numerous jobs that do not require a bachelor’s degree. This approach gives you the opportunity to work in a medical setting without the lengthy, expensive training that comes with medical school.
Medical assistants are on the front lines of making a patient’s visit as pleasant and efficient as possible. These health care workers schedule appointments, facilitate medication requests, process patient referrals, maintain patient files and take medical histories. Many medical assistants receive training in basic medical procedures, including checking patients’ vitals, swabbing throats for strep tests or drawing blood. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median salary for medical assistants was $28,860 in May 2010, although top earners may receive more than $40,000. Completing a two-year medical assistant associate degree program increases salary and job prospects.
Pharmacy technicians work under pharmacists to package and label prescriptions, mix medications, take health information from customers and process payments. Although pharmacists must review all prescriptions given to the customer, the pharmacy technician is essential to making the process go smoothly. According to the Penn Foster pharmacy technician program, demand for these health care professionals is expected to grow 32 percent by 2020. Pharmacy technicians employed in hospitals make an average annual salary of $32,400, reports the Bureau of Labor Services.
Ultrasound technicians, or diagnostic medical sonographers, obtain ultrasound images used to diagnose a variety of conditions. Although radiologists make the actual diagnosis, sonographers must analyze images, record findings and provide high-quality patient care. Most ultrasound technicians complete an associate degree or post-secondary certificate. The average salary is $64,380, with an expected job growth of 44 percent by the year 2020.
Registered nurses work in a variety of medical settings, including hospitals, nursing care facilities, clinics and schools. RNs take medical histories, provide basic treatments, operate medical equipment, perform diagnostic tests and teach patients how to manage their conditions. An associate’s degree in nursing is the entry level degree for an RN position. On average, nurses make $64,690 per year. Many states are facing nursing shortages, making this a strong career for future growth.
When you visit the dental office for a routine visit, much of your time is spent with a dental hygienist. These health care workers operate X-ray equipment, clean teeth, check for common signs of gum disease or oral cancer, and teach patients proper oral hygiene. Most dental hygienists work in dentist offices, and the Bureau of Labor Services reports that many have flexible scheduling opportunities. Although some schools offer bachelor’s degrees in dental hygiene, most hygienists hold an associate degree. Dental hygienists make an average of $68,250 per year. Job demand is expected to grow 38 percent by 2020, making dental hygiene an attractive option for those looking for a medical career that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree.
Guest author: Tara Chapman
Tara is a law student and movie buff.
Photo by: Flicker
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