Healthcare career options if you can’t afford to be a doctor

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It’s no secret that becoming a doctor is expensive. The average cost of medical school in the USA in 2021 is $54,698 per year. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, 2019 medical school graduates had a median student loan debt of $200,000. It is beyond the reach of many.

However, some people have a vocation to be of service to others. They can make it into the medical field through other careers that don’t cost as much to prepare for.

Careers in the healthcare industry

Here are some healthcare careers where you can also make a significant difference in people’s lives and how you can qualify for them.

1. Nurse

Nurses provide patient care in hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities. They can administer medications, monitor patients’ conditions, and provide emotional support. You must complete an accredited nursing program and pass the National Council for Registered Nurses Licensure Examination to become a registered nurse.

2. Certified practical nurse

Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) provide primary patient care, including bathing, dressing, and feeding. They can also monitor the status of patients and report changes to nurses. To become a certified practical nurse, you must complete a CNA-accredited training program and pass the national nursing aide evaluation program exam.

3. EMT or paramedic

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics provide emergency care to ill or injured patients. They can administer first aid, CPR and other lifesaving procedures. To become an EMT or paramedic, you must 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 bodily fluids to detect and diagnose disease. They may also prepare samples for testing. To become a medical technologist, you must complete an accredited medical technology program and pass the American Society for Clinical Pathology exam.

5. Radiology Technician

Radiology technicians perform diagnostic imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs on patients. They can also prepare patients for exams and help doctors interpret results. To become an X-ray technician, you must complete an accredited X-ray technology program. You must then pass the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists exam.

6. Ultrasound Technician

Ultrasound technicians use special ultrasound equipment to create images of the inside of a patient’s body. They can use these images to diagnose medical conditions. To become an ultrasound technician, you must complete an accredited ultrasound 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 can provide oxygen therapy, pulmonary 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. Physiotherapist

Physiotherapists help injured or chronically ill patients regain movement and function. They may treat patients in hospitals, clinics or their own offices. To become a physical therapist, you must complete an accredited physical therapy program and pass the national physical therapy exam.

9. Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists help people with physical, mental or developmental disabilities improve their ability to perform daily tasks. They may work in hospitals, clinics, schools, or their own offices. To become an occupational therapist, you must complete an accredited occupational therapy program and pass the National Occupational Therapy Certification Board 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 must complete an accredited physician assistant training program and pass the American Association of Physician Assistants Certified Physician Assistant Examination to become a physician 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 must complete an accredited dental hygiene program and pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination.

12. Physiotherapist Assistant

Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) help physical therapists provide patient care. They can help patients walk, move and exercise. PTAs may also give massages and use electrical stimulation and ultrasound therapy. To become a physical therapist assistant, you must complete a PTA-accredited program and pass the national physical therapist assistant certification exam.

13. Pharmacist

Pharmacists dispense prescription drugs to patients and advise on the safe and effective use of drugs. You must complete an accredited pharmacy program and pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination 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 must complete an accredited massage therapy program and pass the National Certification Examination in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.

Form to serve

There are many healthcare career options available to you if you can’t afford to be a doctor. You can become a nurse, paramedic, technician, respiratory therapist, physiotherapist, 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 are, there is sure to be a healthy career that is just right for you.

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