It’s no secret that becoming a doctor is expensive. The average cost of medical school in the United States as of 2021 is $54,698 per year. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the medical school graduates of 2019 had a median educational debt of $200,000. That is beyond the reach of many.
Still, some people have the calling to be of service to others. They can do so in the medical field through other careers that do not cost as much to prepare for.
Careers in the Health Industry
Here are some careers in the health field where you can also make a significant difference in people’s lives and how you can get qualified for them.
Nurses provide care to patients in hospitals, clinics, and other health care settings. They may administer medications, monitor patients’ conditions, and provide emotional support. You need to complete an accredited nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses to become a nurse.
2. Certified Nursing Assistant
Certified nursing assistants (CNA) provide primary care to patients, including bathing, dressing, and feeding. They also may monitor patients’ conditions and report changes to nurses. To become a certified nursing assistant, you must complete an accredited CNA training program and pass the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program exam.
3. EMT or Paramedic
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics provide emergency care to sick or injured patients. They may administer first aid, CPR, and other lifesaving procedures. To become an EMT or paramedic, you need to complete an accredited EMT or paramedic training program and pass the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam.
4. Medical Technologist
Medical technologists analyze blood, urine, and other body fluids to detect and diagnose diseases. They also may prepare specimens for testing. To become a medical technologist, you need to complete an accredited medical technology program and pass the American Society for Clinical Pathology exam.
5. Radiologic Technician
Radiologic technicians perform diagnostic imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans on patients. They also may prepare patients for examinations and help doctors interpret the results. To become a radiologic technician, you must complete an accredited radiologic technology program. You must then pass the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists exam.
6. Sonogram Technician
Sonogram technicians use special ultrasound equipment to create images of the inside of a patient’s body. They may use these images to diagnose medical conditions. To become a sonogram technician, you must complete an accredited sonography program and pass the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography exam.
7. Respiratory Therapist
Respiratory therapists care for patients who have difficulty breathing, including those with asthma, emphysema, and cystic fibrosis. They may provide oxygen therapy, chest physiotherapy, and other treatments. To become a respiratory therapist, you must complete an accredited respiratory therapy program and pass the National Board for Respiratory Care exam.
8. Physical Therapist
Physical therapists help patients who are injured or have a chronic illness regain movement and function. They may treat patients in hospitals, clinics, or their own offices. To become a physical therapist, you need to complete an accredited physical therapy program and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination.
9. Occupational Therapist
Occupational therapists help people with physical, mental, or developmental disabilities improve their ability to perform everyday tasks. They may work in hospitals, clinics, schools, or their own offices. To become an occupational therapist, you need to complete an accredited occupational therapy program and pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy exam.
10. Medical Assistant
Medical assistants perform clinical and administrative tasks in medical offices. They may take patient histories, measure vital signs, and prepare blood samples for testing. You need to complete an accredited medical assistant training program and pass the Certified Medical Assistant exam from the American Association of Medical Assistants to become a medical assistant.
11. Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists clean teeth, examine patients for oral health problems, and provide preventive dental care. They prepare patients for procedures to be done by dentists. They also educate patients on oral hygiene practices. To become a dental hygienist, you need to complete an accredited dental hygiene program and pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination.
12. Physical Therapist Assistant
Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) help physical therapists provide treatment to patients. They may assist patients in walking, moving around, and exercising. PTAs also may give massages and use electrical stimulation and ultrasound therapy. To become a physical therapist assistant, you need to complete an accredited PTA program and pass the Physical Therapist Assistant National Certification Exam.
Pharmacists dispense prescription medications to patients and provide advice on the safe and effective use of medications. You need to complete an accredited pharmacy program and pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam to become a pharmacist.
14. Massage Therapist
Massage therapists use massage techniques to help relieve pain, improve circulation, and promote relaxation. To become a massage therapist, you need to complete an accredited massage therapy program and pass the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.
Train to Serve
Many health career options are available if you can’t afford to be a doctor. You can become a nurse, paramedic, technician, respiratory therapist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, medical assistant, dental hygienist, or pharmacist, among others. These careers all require different levels of education and training. So whatever your interests and goals may be, there is sure to be a healthy career that’s perfect for you.