Health and Medical Services Preparatory

Postsecondary programs that can help you prepare for a career in health and medical services include pre-medical, pre-nursing or pre-pharmacy studies. Each course of study can lead to a different career option and salary, so read on to find out which one may be a good fit for you.

Are Health and Medical Services Preparatory Studies for Me?

Program Overview

Some colleges offer health and medical services preparatory programs, also called pre-professional studies, that typically lead to a bachelor's degree. They can also help you meet the admissions requirements and undergraduate prerequisites for dental, medical, nursing, pharmacy or veterinary school.

Information for Dentists

Your job duties as a dentist might include providing oral hygiene care to patients and treating teeth, gum and mouth problems. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment of dentists would increase by 16% nationwide between 2012 and 2022. In May 2013, the BLS also reported that dentists earned a median annual salary of $146,340 (www.bls.gov).

Information for Doctors

Doctors provide medical care to patients, including treating illness, repairing injuries and prescribing drugs. As reported by the BLS, the demand for doctors and surgeons was expected to grow by 18% nationwide from 2012-2022. Income can vary according to specialty; for example, family and general practitioners had median annual incomes of $176,530 as of May 2013 (www.bls.gov).

Information for Registered Nurses

As a registered nurse (RN), you might dispense drugs to patients, perform diagnostic tests and monitor medical equipment. According to the BLS, job openings for RNs were projected to increase by 19% nationwide between 2012 and 2022. In May 2013, the median annual salary for an RN was $65,950 (www.bls.gov).

Information for Pharmacists

In your position as a pharmacist, you'll fill prescriptions for medications and advise patients on how to use them in the most effective and safe manner. Employment opportunities for pharmacists were predicted to grow by 14% nationwide from 2012-2022, as reported by the BLS. As May 2013, pharmacists earned a median annual salary of $119,280 (www.bls.gov).

Information for Veterinarians

Veterinarians treat illnesses and injuries in animals. In this position, you might also inspect farm animals or perform research. Nationwide, the demand for veterinarians was expected to increase by 12% between 2012 and 2022, according to the BLS. Veterinarians earned a median annual salary of $86,640, as noted by the BLS in May 2013 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Become a Health or Medical Services Professional?

Overview of Requirements

In general, a pre-professional program is designed to prepare you for entry into dentist, medical, pharmacy or veterinary school. Undergraduate majors can be flexible, as long as you fulfill all of the prerequisite coursework. Professional programs for licensed dentists, doctors, pharmacists and veterinarians typically take four years to complete and include a residency. There are several pathways for becoming an RN, including completion of an associate's degree or diploma in nursing; advanced practice RNs usually earn a master's degree.

Pre-Dental and Dental Programs

A bachelor's degree in biology or another science is usually required for admission to dental school. In addition to coursework in science, pre-dental studies can include training in dental laboratory techniques, dental anatomy and instrument use. You'll also learn how to create denture casts and acquire skills in denture arrangement. Professional dental programs culminate in a Doctor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Dental Medicine degree; some specialties require additional post-graduate training.

Pre-Medical and Medical Programs

Pre-medical studies can include topics in basic human anatomy, bioanthropology, evolution and biological mechanisms. You might also study cognitive psychology, science policy and ethics. Completion of a 4-year medical program can lead to a Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree. Additional requirements include a hospital residency, usually 3-8 years in length, depending upon the specialty. If you're pursuing a sub-specialty, you might spend an additional 1-3 years in training.

Pre-Nursing and Nursing Programs

Pre-nursing studies are typically two years in length and are designed to prepare you for admission into a bachelor's degree program. They usually include the study of human anatomy, carbon compounds, bacteria and virology. Courses in human nutrition, psychology and sociology will also be part of your program.

Pre-Pharmacy and Pharmacy Programs

You'll need a minimum of 2-3 years of undergraduate schooling to enter a pharmacy program. Some programs require a bachelor's degree. Pre-pharmacy studies may include courses in human anatomy and physiology, microbiology and biochemistry. In addition to a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, clinical pharmacy or research positions can require completion of a post-graduate residency program, typically 1-2 years in length.

Pre-Veterinary and Veterinary Programs

Pre-veterinary majors can include animal science, biology or another area of special interest. Once enrolled in a pre-veterinary studies program, you'll take courses in zoology, cell biology, parasitology and vertebrate histology. You might also study organic chemistry and molecular toxicology. Professional programs culminate in a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. An additional 3-4-year residency may be required if you're pursuing a veterinary specialty.

Licensing

All dentists, doctors, pharmacists and veterinarians must be licensed. Practicing nurses will also need to obtain an RN license. Although each state has its own credentialing criteria, requirements typically include completion of an approved education program, supervised experience in the field and a passing score on an exam.

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