For many millions of people around the world, heroes during the COVID pandemic took the form of doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, paramedics and vaccine researchers. The medical establishment as a whole has come to be even more respected than they were in the years before the pandemic, and that means that thousands of people are more incentivized than ever to enter the profession in one capacity or another. In this article, we’ll work through the various healthcare roles that you could assume in order to explain and outline what you’ll need to do to assume those roles for a career in healthcare in the future.
Highly trained and versatile, doctors are some of the most important individuals on any ward and in any medical institution. There are doctors who are general practitioners with a wide range of knowledge, and there are those who prefer to specialize in a certain ailment. All of them are put through their paces in years-long university or college courses, and many of them continue to train and learn right up to the point of their retirement.
To become a doctor is difficult. You need the funds to support you while you train for the years to qualify as a medical professional. If you have the cash, you’ll also need the high school and college grades to make it to a good university. Finally, you’ll need to work extremely hard to pass your medical exams – without which, you’ll never be able to practice as a doctor. Your first step is nailing your school exams or retaking them to achieve better grades. Then, find yourself a course that you’re eligible for that’ll start your journey to becoming a doctor.
A ward simply cannot function without nurses. They may not make the big calls without a doctor, but they’re there to make sure that patients are well cared for, that they receive the appropriate medication and treatments at the appropriate time, and that they’re discharged (healthy and happy) as soon as possible. People are attracted to nursing if they have a caring streak in their personality, and for the love of the challenge of serving and servicing a wide portion of the population.
Nurses require slightly less rigorous training than doctors, which means that those short on funds, time or school grades might well prefer to train as a nurse than as a doctor. Happily, there are some exciting options when it comes to gaining your certification, without which you cannot function as a nurse. There are online accelerated BSN programs that you can take from the comfort of your home and can complete in just a year – getting you on wards in no time. If you’d prefer, you can also train for three or four years at a university to achieve a qualification to launch your nursing career.
These individuals combine some of the skills of doctors and some of those of nurses, but they’re also first responders at incidents in the outside world. That means that they often need special training in advanced first aid – as well as driving skills as they’re to head up an ambulance frequently on their shifts. This role tends to attract those with an adventurous streak who want to help people in their acute time of need.
Paramedic training is unique and exciting, but you will also not be able to work as a paramedic without having completed a course of studies, including extensive practical exams. You can find these at any good vocational colleges or at universities. You won’t need to know the ins and outs of diagnosis to be a paramedic – just the bare bones of what you’ll need to do to help those injured in the wider world. Interestingly, military medics often become paramedics later in life – the skills are highly transferrable.
All hospitals and larger healthcare institutions require administrators – and lots of them. Without a database of patient records and a very organized back office, medications may get muddled and patients might be discharged in an unsafe manner. As such, administrators are actually playing an important part in saving lives and in helping keep people safe and healthy on the ward at all times. This job may lack the glamour of being a first responder, a doctor or a nurse, but it’s just as important for people’s health and safety.
You can qualify as a medical administrator via an online course or via a full-time university degree. You may also find your way into the profession via other similar jobs in other sectors, given that the skills are highly transferrable. One of the key things to remember here is the sensitivity of medical data. You’ll need to prove, via an assessment or a qualification, that you know what you’re doing with private data. That’s the only way hospitals will trust you with this highly important role.
In a hospital, it’s not the nurses who tend to move the equipment and the patients, but porters. These are individuals who have little medical training and actually provide the mobility that keeps everything ticking in the hospital, helping to maintain a tight ship and to ferry people and things from A to B. Just as withall of the above professionals, porters are an absolutely essential part of a functioning medical institution. They also play an important role in caring for patients between wards.
Becoming a porter requires little training, although most institutions will be interested in your character and your past work experience before they commit to hiring you. They’re ultimately looking for someone who they can trust to put in the hours on the ward, and someone who can make smart, compassionate decisions in order to make patients feel happy and comfortable. You’ll be a valued member of the wider team, especially if you can bring some chirpiness and positivity to every ward you work on.
The drugs that doctorsgive to patients and the treatments that are prescribed are all researched and tested to a high degree before they’re permitted to be used on humans. This research actually takes us quite far away from medial institutions and into laboratories and universities. You won’t need a medical degree in order to help research in the medical field – you’ll instead need to have studied pharmaceuticals, chemistry, biology or similar subjects. There are actually hundreds of fields that overlap with medical research – and you can search them for yourself online.
The feeling of being a medical researcher is certainly the feeling that you’re making a difference from another place. You’re not on the front lines, treating patients and helping to provide care. Instead, you’re in the rearguard, working hard to discover ways in which we as a species can help one another heal better. It’s a humbling job, and one that requires real academic rigor and curiosity. If you’re fascinated by science and you want to make a difference, this is the role for you.
There are also those who research medical data. They’re not poring over particles and testing certain compounds for their effectiveness in treating different symptoms. They’re instead coming at the problem of ill health from the opposite direction entirely: they’re looking at huge volumes of medical data in order to understand at-risk categories and the kinds of illnesses that are developing in a population at any given moment. A great example of this is COVID research, which of course helped us to discover comorbidities and symptoms of the coronavirus.
These data experts may have little medical experience and their training is likely to have centered fully on medical data instead. That makes them dispassionate but skillful workers with data, and that knowledge can help them to make breakthroughs in medical research that neither doctors nor traditional researchers are positioned to make. As the world digitizes, getting yourself trained up in large-batch data analysis and presentation can be an excellent way to make a difference to people’s health.
These people aren’t snooping on people’s text conversations or their trash cans: they’re surveilling for signs of the next pandemic or health scare. They use a variety of methods to do this, from scouring though the sewers to seek new pathogens to swabbing subway stations to check which diseases are more prominent in certain areas of the world. Pandemic surveillance experts are better funded and organized than ever before in the wake of the COVID pandemic, and that means that there are several fascinating roles out there for those who are interested in this field.
There are several ways to help watch the world for pandemics. You can do so as a medical pathogen researcher, which tends to require at least a master’s level degree. You can do so as an administrator or a data analyst,and you can even do so as a volunteer, send out on projects by the central team in order to gather important data that’ll help inform people about what risks are out there in today’s world.
Medical Trial Volunteers
You may have seen in brochures and online that there are often opportunities to help medicine advance, simply by sitting in bed for a number of weeks. It’s not quite as simple as that of course, but the gist of the research is that you’ll be tested with a certain medication (or a control or placebo medication) and doctors and other health researchers will study your health response over a number of weeks or even months to see if the medicine works.
It’s worth pointing out that these trials are very safe, and they can only be entered into if medics are already quite sure that no adverse effects will arise from the medication that they give you. While the word volunteer might suggest this position is unpaid, it’s actually one that pays rather well – often about the same as the median wage. You’ll be able to do other things while you’re being tested, such as studying for your medical certificate so that you can work in any medical field in the future.
During the pandemic, many of us saw what a coordinated health communications strategy looks like. Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent worldwide on getting people clued up on how the virus worked, which symptoms to look out for, the effects of the disease, and the lockdown measures that were being introduced. In the more recent past, huge, concerted efforts have been made to inform the public about the benefits of taking the vaccine and the reasons why it’s something that people can trust.
All of this isn’t actually achieved by people with any knowledge of medicine at all – it’s instead achieved by communications agencies that are designed to get messages out there onto the airwaves, in newspapers and across social media. That’s how governments have been able to coordinate their messaging so well during the pandemic. But even after the pandemic recedes, there will be public health messages that constantly need to be shared with the wider public. That’s where you as a communicator can come in – using a journalism, literature, marketing or communications degree to help the public learn about the medical risks out there today.
It might sound a little foolish that you can start a career in healthcare by becoming a patient, but that’s to overlook the very real fact that many people who suffer from chronic illnesses and rare diseases end up becoming advocates for those ailments, lifting the profile of those diseases and maybe even working on their own to coordinate research efforts in that area of medicine.
By admitting yourself to hospital and getting regular health checks, you’ll be on top of your heath. If your health does take a turn for the worst, you might well consider a career in healthcare that matches with your ailment, and that’s something that will see you follow in the footsteps of hundreds of thousands of other people, without whom we might not have such excellent research and treatments in certain illnesses and diseases.
There you have it: all the roles that you might be able to take in the medical profession, which can help the world stay happier, healthier and safer in the decades to come.