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4 Great but Unexpected Health and Medical Career Paths

If you get a health and medicine degree, you’re going to be a doctor or nurse, right? Not necessarily! You have many potential career paths, like these options.

When choosing to pursue a health and medicine–oriented major in college, you may think the only end goal is to go for a traditional or popular career path like a nurse or doctor. But these aren't the only jobs in the health care industry. While a lot of students choose to go on to medical school and residency after earning their bachelor’s, there are plenty of careers that allow you to apply your skills and knowledge without working directly with patients or earning an advanced degree. Some options include hands-on work—like paramedics, surgeons, or EMTs—while others revolve around legal administration or lab research. Here are four potential career paths you may not know you could pursue with a health and medicine degree.

1. Public health worker

Public health workers keep communities safe from health threats by tracking and preventing diseases to avoid spread at a large scale. They also advocate for healthy lifestyles in communities—so instead of treating sick people, this role seeks to prevent said sickness and injuries. As a public health worker, you might contribute to research that identifies causes and solutions to diseases and viruses, interact with people to encourage and emphasize the importance of good health practices, educate people on the effects of unhealthy habits like drugs, or fight for access to basic health resources in both large and small communities. This career allows you to branch out and be flexible not only in location—which can vary from clinics and hospital wings to private companies and governments—but also in day-to-day work that ranges from administering vaccinations to creating nutrition programs for schools.

2. Medical educator, professor, or teacher

Medical educators interact with students and other people who are interested in learning about and pursuing health and medicine. Whether you choose to teach the elderly nutrition and daily health habits or young, eager students in universities and medical schools, choosing this path will demand you provide tools, skills, and knowledge to people regardless of the end goal. A career path in teaching will also demand great communication skills rather than just general knowledge and facts of the field. A career as an educator could even be a second career path for you as the years go by, where the knowledge you acquired from another role in the medical field can be used in a classroom or conference hall—or in the case of medical educators, will allow you to explore other careers like public health or clinical work.

Related: Top Academic Paths to Help You Pursue Nursing and Medical Careers

3. Medical photographer, anatomical illustrator, health journalist, or medical writer

If you have the artistic ability to go with your medical prowess, these career paths could be perfect for you. Medical photographers take photos and videos for both private patient care and general information for doctors, students, and medical magazines. This means you may photograph different stages of injuries and the recovery period or assist health care professionals in creating treatment plans and education courses. On the other hand, health journalists and medical writers communicate what’s going on in the medical community by writing articles, studies, reports, and research results to publish in medical magazines, often working with photographers to include visuals in their work. In fact, many doctors and researchers take on this career as a complement to their primary role—you don’t have to be a doctor to write about health, but a medical background would certainly help. Lastly, anatomical illustrators provide detailed drawings of the human body to serve as a visual support in education, reports, and marketing when photos don’t do the job. All these career choices allow you to take on the creative side of medicine while keeping you in the loop with doctors, researchers, and patients to stay up-to-date in the medical world.

4. Legal and administration

You may find yourself interested in using your knowledge of health and medicine in jobs like medical legal advisor, medical sales representative, transplant coordinator, investment banker, pharmaceutical marketing and management, and so on. These career paths in particular involve using medical knowledge and skills in managing medical cases in court trials, managing a hospital, holding lectures, writing articles and reports, taking on legal research, coordinating hospital events, managing hospital finances, and more. Basically, your bachelor's degree will help you understand the way the medical field works, and your real-world experience will help you in managing it. However, these career choices may require you to further your education, whether it's going to law school or earning a master's degree.

Related: How to Know If Law School Is Right for You

If you majored or are planning to major in a health and medicine field, you have a wide variety of career paths to choose from beyond the more “typical” roles. Whether you wish to attend grad school or start working directly after graduation, your degree can take you on unexpected paths, which may even involve everything from creativity to communication skills. Your options are truly limitless!

Still not sure which career is your best fit? Check out our blog on How to Find the Right Health Sciences Field for You.

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About Pilar Zapata Thompson

Pilar Zapata Thompson is a Chilean high school student who's passionate about neuroscience, psychology, and health. She dedicates large portions of her time to sports, hiking, her dog, and volunteering as a tutor. Her love for books and learning is what drives her to hopefully study abroad and major in Neuroscience & Behavior.



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