The medical field remains a popular career choice for many people. Regardless of where you are in your academic career, there are various entry-level programs to help you step into the medical field.
Depending on the program you choose, becoming a medical assistant may take less than a year of study and clinical experience. Medical assistants are unique since their role is often a hybrid of practical responsibilities and administrative duties. They are hired in a wide variety of clinical settings, such as clinics and hospitals, and frequently have direct patient interaction by doing basic assessments, handing out medication, and helping during minor procedures. Administrative duties might include working with the electronic health records system to update charts, send referrals, or do follow-ups to make sure a doctor's orders are followed. Due to the shorter time frame to complete the program, it is an ideal field for people who have recently graduated from high school or those interested in a career change, but need to be gainfully employed shortly after program completion. Look into local medical assistant programs to learn more.
Radiology Techs & Assistants
Much like medical assistants, becoming a radiology tech generally requires a shorter program, possibly upwards of two years. A radiology tech's job usually involves working directly with patients to perform imaging tests, such as x-rays or electrocardiograms. In some cases, radiology techs may acquire additional certification for other types of imaging tests, such as CT, MRI, or PET. More training, such as a bachelor's or master's degree, is required to become a radiology assistant. With more education and experience, you can expand your opportunities. For example, instead of working closely with radiologists, you may want to work in a specialized field, such as interventional radiology. Since this branch of radiology is more intricate in the type of procedures they perform, you would likely need an advanced education beyond certification as a radiology tech.
Although a pathology assistant may not seem like an entry-level field because it requires a graduate degree in health sciences, it is an alternative way into pathology that does not require medical school, residency, and a possible fellowship. Programs to become a pathology assistant cover all specialties within pathology, such as clinical, anatomical, and forensics. You might have a goal of working in a hospital laboratory with a clinical pathologist to decipher biopsies and tissue samples to make determinations whether the cells under the microscope are malignant or benign. If your ideal career path is forensic pathology, you can work closely with area medical examiners and law enforcement during autopsies. The autopsy helps determine not only how a person died, but whether their death warrants criminal charges because of murder or negligence.
Fortunately, there are many medical careers that do not require 10+ years of school. At each level of education, there are entry-level medical careers for you to pursue.