Medicine / Health Sciences

The healthcare industry has witnessed a steady growth of science jobs despite the economic recession. According to some predictions, jobs in the healthcare industry are expected to grow by 22 percent (3.2 million new jobs) by 2018. As opposed to careers as doctors and dentists, multiple careers in the healthcare industry do not require a graduate degree. Registered nurses, physical therapists, and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are some of these.

Registered nurses are the backbone of hospitals and medical offices in the U.S. This profession is projected to generate over 580,000 new jobs by 2018, making nursing one of the most in-demand careers in this country. There are three primary educational paths to registered nursing: a BA/BS, an associate degree, and a diploma from one of the accredited nursing programs. For advanced practice nurses, for example clinical nurse specialists or nurse anesthetists, a master's degree is required. Some of the job functions of registered nurses (RNs) are to treat patients and educate them about various medical conditions, as well as to provide advice to patients' family members. RNs can specialize in one or several areas of patient care. Nurses can specialize by working in a particular type of treatment or setting (for example assisting surgeons in operating rooms or providing hospice care for the terminally ill); by working with specific illnesses, such as cancer or diabetes; by working with a specific organ, such as dermatology nurses who work with skin-related problems or nephrology nurses who work with the kidneys; and finally, by working with specific populations, such as the elderly (geriatric nurses) and children (pediatrics).

Pharmacy and pharmaceuticals also provide many career opportunities. Retail pharmacists work in drug or grocery store pharmacies and dispense medication. Clinical pharmacists work in hospital settings with physicians to determine optimal medical regiments for patients. Pharmacy technicians work with pharmacists to provide medication. This position does not require any formal training, and is a great entry-level position to enter the field.

Physical therapists or PTs are healthcare workers who diagnose and treat medical problems caused by illnesses or injuries that limit the patient's ability to move and engage in day-to-day physical activities. Physical therapists provide treatment that promotes the ability to move, improves function, reduces pain, and, in the long term, prevents disability. PTs also work with healthy individuals by developing fitness and wellness-oriented programs to encourage a more active lifestyle and prevent the loss of mobility, for example that associated with aging. Entry-level academic programs in physical therapy should be accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association's accrediting body, called the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Courses offered at these programs include anatomy, biomechanics, exercise physiology, and radiology and imaging. Passing the National Physical Therapy Examination and fulfilling state requirements are necessary for licensure to practice as a PT. Employment for physical therapists is expected to grow by 30 percent over the next decade, due in part to the aging baby-boom generation and new medical and technological developments leading to increased survival of trauma victims and newborns with birth defects and creating additional demand for rehabilitative care.

Another exciting science job is that of an EMT or a paramedic. These professionals are the first to respond to many medical emergencies and must have a quick reaction time and work well under stress. Like many other science jobs in the healthcare industry, employment for EMTs and paramedics is expected to grow over the next ten years. EMTs and paramedics are the first to arrive on the scene, provide emergency care, and transport the patient to a medical facility. At the hospital, EMTs and paramedics may help transfer patients to the emergency department, provide the department staff with important information about the patient's condition when found, and may also provide emergency treatment on-site. Employment of EMTs and paramedics is expected to grow nine percent in the next decade, due in part to increasing call volume from the increasingly aging population.