Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Rewarding Health Care Careers That Don’t Require Medical School

This is a guest post by Jenna Russell for non-physicians who may be interested in clinical and non-clinical careers in the world of health care. 

Rewarding Health Care Careers That Don’t Require Medical School

You find yourself watching way too many medical dramas; you are fascinated by the medical miracle shows on the Discovery Channel. You don’t faint at the sight of blood and you have a deep desire to help others and serve mankind in a meaningful way. There’s just one problem. You don’t have 7 years and forty grand to become a doctor.

No matter where you are in your life, if you have the underlying drive to pursue a job in healthcare, the reality is that there are dozens of career opportunities that allow you to participate in the medical field without having to become a doctor or even a nurse. There are many jobs which require a minimal education commitment from a certification program to a 2-year associate’s degree. If you want it, a job in the medical field is entirely within your reach. Here are 4 great health care jobs that anyone can pursue.

Radiologic Technologist or Radiographer
Education: Certification, Associates Degree (2 years), Bachelor’s Degree (4 years)
Average Salary: Average around $50,000/yr

Job Description: Radiologic Technologists are responsible for taking X-ray’s so that doctors are able to diagnose medical problems. There are several precautionary measures which must be taken when dealing with X-ray machines, which means a Radiographer needs to follow explicit rules when dealing with both equipment and patients. They must be able to operate equipment efficiently and to execute radiographs with precision in order to get the best possible image of the correct part of the body.

Why it matters: A skilled Radologic Technician is a vital part of the health care process, because it is the quality of the mages they take that can often make the difference in a difficult diagnosis. X-rays, while crucial to the diagnostic process, also carry some risk. Therefore it is the Radiographer’s responsibility to ensure patient safety. This career holds duel appeal for those who desire to play a role in health care and have the opportunity to work with advanced computer systems and emerging technology.

License Required? Yes
American Society of Radiologic Technologists

Education: Phlebotomy Certification (6 weeks)
Average Salary: Average around $30,000/yr

Job Description: Phlebotomists are responsible for drawing blood from patients for the purpose of testing or transfusion. Phlebotomists are often brought on by health care institutions in order to assist nurses and doctors by managing the process of drawing blood. Depending on the nature of employment, the job may require some regional travel to nursing homes and outpatients.

Why it matters: Phlebotomists are vital to the process of diagnostics and preventative health maintenance. Getting a needle in the arm is never easy; a good phlebotomist can make a huge difference in the experience by being a calming presence and helping patients to relax. It also requires precision and a steady hand to insert the needle properly the first time. Phlebotomists are especially crucial when it comes to staffing blood drives. Well stocked blood banks are essential to the transfusion process and helping to save lives.

License Required? Yes, in most states
American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians

Medical Billing and Coding
Education: Medical Billing and Coding Certification (Length varies based on program)
Average Salary: Average around $30,000/yr

Job Description: Medical Coders and Billers are tasked with processing medical forms and codes for hospitals, doctor’s offices and insurance companies. Medical coding is an office job, but an important one. Medical coders must input the proper codes to ensure that medical providers get paid for services rendered and that patient history records are accurately maintained. In some job situations a medical billing specialist may have to communicate with patients regarding their records, payments and reimbursement. This may require great patience and people skills.

Why it matters: While 40 hours behind a computer sounds far removed from the trenches of health care, patients would be lost with out these specialists. These are the people who ensure that each patient’s history has the correct codes, for future medical care, proper payment to the hospital or doctor and patient reimbursement for services which are covered by insurance. The work of a highly skilled Medical Coder will go completely un-noticed by a patient, but coding errors can cost patients money or even, under rare circumstances, insurance coverage.

License Required? No, only certification
The American Academy of Professional Coders

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
Education: up to Associate’s Degrees
Average Salary: Average around $30,000/yr

Job Description: an EMT is the first to arrive on the scene in an accident or a crisis. Their job is to assess the situation, perform emergency medical procedures, and transport patients to the hospital. This job is not for the faint of heart and can be highly stressful, both physically and emotionally. Emergency Medical Technicians need to be able to retain a vast amount of information and execute sometimes complicated procedures with ease. An EMT must be able to remain calm under pressure, lift patients into vehicles, and perform in inclement weather or other less than ideal circumstances.

Why it matters: EMT’s are literally the front lines of health care. These courageous individuals brave dangerous situations and conditions in order to save lives. Next to becoming a doctor, this is probably one of the most action packed and pivotal health care career choices. This job is full of risk, adrenaline and high stakes decision making. Becoming an EMT is a huge responsibility, but will inevitably prove to be both exciting and rewarding.

License Required? Yes
National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians

This is a guest post by Jenna Russell. Jenna is a writer for medicalbillingandcoding.org. She has extensive experience writing and working with health care education programs.

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