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HDP Careers: Health and Medicine

Medicine is the branch of health science and the sector of public life concerned with maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis and treatment of disease and injury. It is both an area of knowledge – a science of body systems, their diseases and treatment – and the applied practice of that knowledge. Medical care is shared between the medical profession (physicians or doctors) and other professionals such as nurses and pharmacists, sometimes known as allied health professionals. Although traditionally physicians are involved in direct treatment and diagnosis of a patient’s condition, many physicians assistants and nurse practitioners, especially in underserved populations, have also assumed this role, independently or under the supervision of physicians.

Medicine and Human Development

The field of Medicine is strongly tied to human development, especially in regards to preventative medicine.  With a strong understanding of development, health care professionals can predict the type of routine care needed at each stage of a person’s life-span, enabling them to keep their patients as healthy as possible.  Additionally, a broad understanding of development gives them an insight into the type of health risk factors that their patients are exposed to based on their age, peer group, economic status, cultural background, education, gender, and occupation.  Some fields of medicine, such as obstetrics, pediatrics, or gerontology, are inherently developmental as their focus revolves around issues of biological growth and deterioration.  Neurological traumas such as stroke, brain damage, and spinal cord injury also involve development, as an understanding of brain development will predict the extent to which a patient can recover function of physical and cognitive abilities.

Training and Credentialing

All health professions require some type of licensure, training, and certification process, although the procedure can vary by profession and by state. Some fields, such as paramedics, licensed vocational nurses, and medical assistants, require only an associates or other type of two year training program, combined with state licensing/certification.  Some registered nursing and physician assistant programs are 2-year programs, but job prospects are much better for those who have obtained a bachelors degree, and a bachelors is required to advance beyond entry level or enter a field of specialization, which requires graduate level training. For pharmacy and optometry programs, both of which are doctorates, a bachelor’s degree is normally required to be admitted. Physicians have the most demanding requirements of any medical occupation—4 years of undergraduate school, 4 years of medical school, and 3 to 8 years of internship and residency, depending on the specialty selected.

Career Descriptions

Physician (Pediatric, Family, OBGYN, Psychiatry, Internal Medicine)

Physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat injuries and illnesses in patients. Physicians examine patients, take medical histories, prescribe medications, and order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests. Surgeons operate on patients to treat injuries, such as broken bones; diseases, such as cancerous tumors; and deformities, such as cleft palates. Almost all physicians complete at least 4 years of undergraduate school, 4 years of medical school, and 3 to 8 years of internship and residency, depending on their specialty.

Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
$166,400/year Doctoral or professional degree Faster than average

For More Information

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook:

Physicians and Surgeons  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physicians-and-surgeons.htm

UCSD Career Services References:
About Medicine
Pre-requisites for Med school

Trade Organizations(including lists of graduate programs):
American Medical Association http://www.ama-assn.org/ama
American Osteopathic Association hhttp://www.osteopathic.org/Pages/default.aspx

Medical Specalities:

American Academy of Family Physicians http://www.aafp.org/home.html
American Board of Medical Specialties http://www.abms.org/
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org/
American College of Surgeons http://www.facs.org/

Physician Assistant

Physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine under the direction of physicians and surgeons. They are formally trained to examine patients, diagnose injuries and illnesses, and provide treatment. Most physician assistants have a bachelor’s degree. Then, they must complete an accredited educational program for physician assistants. That usually takes at least 2 years of full-time study and typically leads to a master’s degree. All states require physician assistants be licensed.

Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
$86,410/year Master's degree Much faster than average

For More Information

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook:

Physician assistants  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physician-assistants.htm

UCSD Career Services References:

Trade Organizations:

American Academy of Physician Assistants  http://www.aapa.org/

Graduate School Programs:

Physician Assistant Education Association http://www.paeaonline.org/

Nursing: RN level

Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members. Registered nurses usually take one of three education paths: a bachelor's degree in nursing, an associate’s degree in nursing, or a diploma from an approved nursing program. Registered nurses must also become licensed by passing a national licensing examination.

Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
$64,690 per year Associate’s degree Faster than average

For More Information

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook:

Registered Nurses  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Registered-nurses.htm

UCSD Career Services References
About Nursing

Trade Organizations:
American Nurses Association http://nursingworld.org/
National League for Nursing
Registered Nurse RN

For information about undergraduate and graduate nursing education, nursing career options, and financial aid, visit
American Association of Colleges of Nursing

Nursing: Advanced Practice Specialities

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs)--Masters Level (Midwife, Practitioner, anesthetists, clinical specialists)--may provide primary and specialty care, and, in most states, they may prescribe medicines. All states specifically define requirements for registered nurses in these four advanced practice roles:

  • Clinical nurse specialists provide direct patient care and expert consultations in one of many nursing specialties, such as psychiatric-mental health.
  • Nurse anesthetists provide anesthesia and related care before and after surgical, therapeutic, diagnostic, and obstetrical procedures. They also provide pain management and emergency services.
  • Nurse-midwives provide care to women, including gynecological exams, family planning advice, prenatal care, assistance in labor and delivery, and care of newborns. 
  • Nurse practitioners serve as primary and specialty care providers, providing a blend of nursing and primary care services to patients and families.
Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
  $71,490 Master's degree Faster than average

For More Information

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook:
Registered Nurses  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Registered-nurses.htm

UCSD Career Services References
About Nursing

Medical Specalities:

For information about clinical nurse specialists, including a list of accredited programs, visit
National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists

For information about nurse anesthetists, including a list of accredited programs, visit
American Association of Nurse Anesthetists

For information about nurse-midwives, including a list of accredited programs, visit
American College of Nurse-Midwives

For information about nurse practitioners, including a list of accredited programs, visit
American Academy of Nurse Practitioners

Trade Organizations:
American Nurses Association http://nursingworld.org/
National League for Nursing
Registered Nurse RN

For information about undergraduate and graduate nursing education, nursing career options, and financial aid, visit
American Association of Colleges of Nursing

Pharmacy

Pharmacists dispense prescription medications to patients and offer advice on their safe use. Pharmacists work in pharmacies, including those in grocery and drug stores. They also work in hospitals and clinics. Pharmacists must have a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.), a 4-year professional degree. They also must be licensed, which requires passing two exams.

Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
$111,570 per year Doctoral or professional degree Faster than average

For More Information

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook:
Pharmacists http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Pharmacists.htm

UCSD Career Services References
About Pharmacy

Trade Organizations:
American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
American Pharmacists Association

For information on pharmacy as a career, preprofessional and professional requirements, programs offered by colleges of pharmacy, and student financial aid, visit
American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

Dentistry

Dentists diagnose and treat problems with a patient’s teeth, gums, and other parts of the mouth. They provide advice and instruction on taking care of teeth and gums and on diet choices that affect oral health. Specailists such as pediatric dentists focus on dentistry for children and special-needs patients.  Dentists must be licensed in all states; requirements vary by state. To qualify for a license in most states, applicants must graduate from an accredited dental school and pass written and practical exams.

Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
$146,920 per year Doctoral or professional degree Faster than average

For More Information

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook:
Dentists  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Dentists.htm

UCSD Career Services References
About Dentistry

Trade Organizations:

American Dental Association, Commission on Dental Accreditation

For information on admission to dental schools, visit
American Dental Education Association

Medical Specalities:
Academy of General Dentistry
American Association of Orthodontists
American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
American Academy of Periodontology
American College of Prosthodontists
American Association of Endodontists
American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
American Association of Public Health Dentistry

Dietitians and Nutritionists

Dietitians and nutritionists are experts in food and nutrition. They advise people on what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve a specific health-related goal. Clinical dietitians and nutritionists provide medical nutrition therapy. They work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, private practice, and other institutions. They create nutritional programs based on the health needs of patients or residents and counsel patients on how to lead a healthier lifestyle. Clinical dietitians and nutritionists may further specialize, such as working only with patients with kidney diseases or those with diabetes. Most dietitians and nutritionists have a bachelor’s degree in nurtrition and have participated in supervised training (a human development student would need to pursue a masters in nutrition). Also, many states require dietitians and nutritionists to be licensed.

Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
$53,250 per year     Bachelor’s degree   Faster than average

For More Information

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook: 

Dietitians and nutritionists  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Dietitians-and-nutritionists.htm

Trade Organizations: 

For a list of academic programs, scholarships, and other information about dietitians, visit
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

For information on the Registered Dietitian (RD) exam and other specialty credentials, visit
Commission on Dietetic Registration

Public Health: Epidemiologists

Epidemiologists investigate the causes of disease and other public health problems to prevent them from spreading or from happening again. They report their findings to public policy officials and to the general public. Epidemiologists who work in private industry commonly work for health insurance companies or pharmaceutical companies. Those in non-profit companies often do public advocacy work. Local government epidemiologists study one or more of the following public health areas: Infectious diseases, Bioterrorism/emergency response, Maternal and child health, Chronic diseases, Environmental health, Injury, Occupational health, Substance abuse, or Oral health.

Epidemiologists need at least a master’s degree from an accredited postsecondary institution. Most epidemiologists have a master’s in public health or a related field, and some have a Ph.D. in epidemiology.

Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
$63,010 per year Master’s degree Faster than average

For More Information

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook: Epidemiologist 
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/epidemiologists.htm


UCSD Career Services References
About Public Health

Trade Organizations:

For more information about epidemiologists, including schools offering education in epidemiology, visit
Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists

For more information about epidemiology careers in the federal government, visit
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Public Health: Health Educator

Health educators teach people about behaviors that promote wellness. They develop programs and materials to encourage people to make healthy decisions. Health educators work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, non-profit organizations, government, doctors’ offices, private business, and colleges.A bachelor’s degree is required for entry-level positions. Some employers may require the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential.

Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
   $48,790 per year     Bachelor’s degree   Much Faster than average

For More Information

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook: 
Health Educators  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Community-and-Social-Service/Health-educators.htm

UCSD Career Services References
About Public Health

Trade Organizations:
American Association for Health Education
Society for Public Health Education

For more information about the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential, visit
National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc

Medical and Health Services Managers

Medical and health services managers, also called healthcare executives or healthcare administrators, plan, direct, and coordinate medical and health services. They might manage an entire facility, specialize in managing a specific clinical area or department, or manage a medical practice for a group of physicians. Most medical and health services managers have at least a bachelor’s degree before entering the field; however, master’s degrees also are common. Requirements vary by facility.

Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
$84,270 per year Bachelor’s degree Faster than average

For More Information

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook:
Medical and health services managers  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Management/Medical-and-health-services-managers.htm

Trade Organizations:

For information about medical and healthcare office managers, visit
Professional Association of Health Care Office Management
American Health Information Management Association
American College of Health Care Administrators