What Are the Different Occupations in the Medical Field?

There are many career options for someone interested in the medical field. Read on to discover the job duties, along with the education, hands-on training and licensing requirements, for physicians, registered nurses and emergency medical technicians. Schools offering Health Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of Occupations in the Medical Field

You can pursue various careers within the medical field. Possible job titles include physician, registered nurse and emergency medical technicians. All require specialized education, hands-on training and licensing. This sample of occupations differs in regards to education requirements, salary and duties.

Important Facts About Occupations in the Medical Field

Physician Registered Nurse Emergency Medical Technician
Average Annual Salary (2014) $189,760 $69,790 $35,110
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 14% growth 16% growth 24% growth
Key Skills Manual dexterity; leadership; organization; clear communication Critical thinking; attention to detail; empathy; physical endurance Problem solving; physical strength; astute listening; clear spoken communication
Similar Occupations Podiatrists; optometrists; dentists Licensed practical nurses; nurse practitioners; dental hygienists Firefighters; police and detectives; physicians assistants

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Physician

All physicians diagnose illnesses, prescribe treatment and administer care to patients, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), but you can earn either a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.). As a D.O., you'll likely serve as a primary care physician, counseling people about preventative care and overall health. If you become an M.D., you can specialize in a certain sub-discipline, such as surgery, internal medicine or pediatrics. The type of care you administer could range from prescribing medication to operating on a patient.

To become a physician, you will need to earn an undergraduate degree, attend four years of medical school and complete a 3-7 year residency. Upon finishing your residency, you'll obtain your medical license and decide whether to become voluntarily board certified in a specialty area. You can then qualify to work in a hospital or doctor's office or even establish your own practice.

Registered Nurse

If you work as a registered nurse (RN), you'll establish care plans, treat patients and provide emotional support to their families. Depending on where you work, your duties might include working with physicians to provide treatment and administering medications.

This medical profession will require you to earn at least an associate degree, although you may choose to continue your education up through the doctoral level. You will also need to become licensed in your state by passing the National Council Licensure Exam. Once you've earned your degree and license, you'll be able to work in a hospital, doctor's office or nursing home.

Emergency Medical Technician

Duties for emergency medical technicians (EMTs) involve responding to 911 calls and providing emergency medical care to patients who require immediate medical attention. You will work with a team of other EMTs and paramedics to transport patients from an emergency scene to a hospital. You could administer first aid, determine injury severity, record patient information and maintain ambulances. Different levels exist, including EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate and paramedic. Your duties will vary for each level, and the completion of different programs is required to sit for each exam.

When you've completed the course corresponding to the EMT level you're pursuing, you'll need to obtain licensure. Many states use the exams administered by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians, although other requirements may apply.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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