EducationHealth & Fitness

Medical career paths – what’s right for you?

Few fields offer such a rich diversity of career options as medicine. If you have your heart set on a profession where you can really help people, there are things you can do no matter where you live, what level of education you have or how old you are when you start. Most of these jobs are quite demanding and require real diligence but they’re also varied, exciting and full of opportunities to develop your skills. These are some of the most popular ones.


Becoming a doctor means that you can work directly on diagnosing people’s health problems and helping to improve their quality of life – or even save their lives. You’ll also enjoy a healthy salary and a great deal of respect. Most doctors explore two to three specialties before settling on one to work at in a hospital or clinic. There’s also the option of working as an emergency doctor where you need the flexibility and insight to deal quickly with whatever comes through the door or working in the community to take care of patients on a day to day basis. You’ll need a medical degree followed by extensive on-the-job training, which will continue throughout your career.


If you want to be able to spend time with patients, taking a holistic approach to their care and providing emotional and practical support, this could be the career for you. For those interested in nursing, an associate’s degree is the best way to start, with ADN nursing qualifications being recognized right across the States. Most nurses continue to study throughout their careers, moving between different types of work and continuing to improve their abilities. It’s a friendly profession with an emphasis on sharing expertise. Pay increases steadily as skills develop and responsibilities increase, and benefits packages tend to be very good.

Lab technician

What happens to blood and tissue samples after they’ve been taken? They go to a medical lab, where technicians work to produce accurate results as quickly as is reasonably possible – a vital part of the diagnostic process. You can get a job like this with a degree in chemistry or biology, or sometimes with less if you’re prepared to start on a low salary and learn as you go. Although many tests are routine, there are also puzzles to be solved in the lab, with technicians sometimes able to bring their expertise to bear where doctors have failed to find solutions.


These days people are becoming more and more aware that mental health as well as physical health needs expert care – and, indeed, that improving the one can make a significant difference to the other. Training as a psychiatrist takes longer than earning a basic medical degree but the pay is commensurate with that and there are lots of different options as to how your practice. You could work as part of a large clinic or hospital team, join a partnership and work from your own office or even visit patients in their own homes. There’s also the option of undertaking further study and developing a specialty.


A good degree in physiotherapy can qualify you for lots of different interesting jobs. You could work in sports, helping athletes to train and dealing with their injuries. You could rehabilitate veterans and accident victims who need to learn how to get around again after suffering serious injuries, or work with patients to stop or slow down the deterioration of their bodies. Whatever role you choose, you’ll be helping people to get more out of their bodies and live more enjoyable, healthy lives – something that will brighten up your life as well.

Hospital porter

Working as a hospital porter, which doesn’t require any formal education, is often looked on as the lowliest of medical careers, but it’s vital work and when done well it can really make a difference. Skilled porters are the key to keeping any hospital running efficiently, getting equipment and supplies from A to B exactly when they’re needed. They also move patients who need to use wheelchairs or who are being moved between wards and operating theaters. Having a friendly, reassuring manner can make all the difference in this situation, helping people to cope during times of stress.

Of course, these are not the only options available and the great thing about medicine is that it’s a profession that allows some room for transfer between careers if you decide that you enjoy what you do but you’re drawn to something else. Whatever you choose, you’ll have the satisfaction of a job in which you know you’re really doing some good.