Change Lives By Learning How To Become A Health Professional

Change Lives By Learning How To Become A Health Professional

When you were growing up, were you more interested in playing doctor than cops and robbers? Maybe you’ve always leaned toward helping people when they were sick because you have a compassionate soul and you want to do whatever you can to make your “patient” feel well again.

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If so, it shouldn’t be any surprise that the health care profession is something you might look into. Maybe you already do and you’re just trying to figure out how to become a health professional. If so, then you’re not alone.

Health professionals.

There are many reasons why someone would want to become a health care professional. Sure, you have the money and the respect that comes along with the PhD, but it’s more than that. Don’t believe us? Keep reading!

In this article you will learn…Reasons Why You Might Want To Become A Healthcare Professional What Occupations Are There In Healthcare?EMTs And Paramedics NursesPhysician Assistants  Physicians Pharmacists Lab TechniciansTherapist How To Become A Health Professional?EMT/ParamedicNurses Physician AssistantPhysicianPharmacistTherapist Important ExamsWhat Is The MCAT?What Is The NCLEX?Conclusion

Reasons Why You Might Want To Become A Healthcare Professional 

There is always going to be a need for health care professionals of all kinds. People generally come into this career because there’s plenty of room for growth and the benefits are pretty nice, too. But, those aren’t the only reasons why someone would go into this career path.

  • heartbeatJob Growth. Right now, the US is facing a healthcare provider shortage because many workers are baby boomers who are looking to retire. What this means is that there is going to be a great need for new workers to come and take their place.
  • heartbeatJob Security. As you’d expect, the chances of being laid off from a healthcare job is very slim. Thanks to the job security you can expect from this line of work, you’re not going to be stressed out about losing your job due to layoffs. Even if you are working in a facility that is closing down, you’ll have no problem finding a job elsewhere.
  • heartbeatVariety. By deciding that you want to learn how to become a health professional, you might have a hard time choose what to specialize in. There are so many different directions your career can go, with unlimited potential for more growth and expanding into other specializations.
  • heartbeatMastering Your Skill. If you decide that you like the area you are specializing in, you have the ability to master it. By mastering an area of study, you can focus all of your time and energy on that area. This is going to improve your abilities, advance your career, and you may even be able to change how procedures are done. Essentially, the sky is the limit
  • heartbeatImproving Your Community. It doesn’t matter where you are, your services are going to be appreciated. However, if you come from a low income neighborhood where healthcare isn’t easily accessible, you’ll be making a huge difference in the lives of those residents.
  • heartbeatTravel. Some health care professionals will go into the field because they can travel and make an impact around the world. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to be a nurse on a cruise line, if you’re going to be an flight paramedic, or if you’re going to care for sick children in a third world country. By traveling to practice medicine, you’ll make great changes to people’s lives who otherwise may not get the care they need.
  • heartbeatMoney. Of course, one of the reasons why people look in how to become a health professional is because of the money. Going to school is not cheap and it is going to rack up the student loan debt, but once you graduate and start working, you’ll be making good money—some salaries are even over the national average!
  • heartbeatPersonal Gratification. Hey, you’re only human. It’s nice to feel appreciated and be proud of what you’re doing for others.
  • heartbeatOpportunities for Leadership. As you become more skilled in your specialty, you have the opportunity to become the leader of that field. For example, you could be the best heart surgeon in your area, or maybe you’ve pioneered a new technique.
  • heartbeatExcitement. It doesn’t matter where you’re practicing, there are great opportunities for real excitement, especially if you are in emergency situations. You have to think on your feet, be ready to go, and that alone is exciting!
  • heartbeatImproving the Workplace. If you focus on occupational health, you have the opportunity to help reduce fatalities, injuries, and illnesses
  • heartbeatEducation Opportunities. Along with the desire to help people, maybe you’ve liked the idea of teaching as well. As a health professional, you may have the opportunity to teach in universities, colleges, contribute to medical journals and the like.
  • heartbeatAccessibility. People who are already in the health field can take courses to advance their education to become the top in their field. Medicine is always evolving, and it’s always a great idea to be proactive about your learning and your career
  • heartbeatChallenging. If you’re someone who likes to keep using their brain to solve difficult problems like diagnosing diseases, or trying to create an effective care plan, this is the job for you. You will always need to use your critical thinking skills to provide the best care you can in a variety of situations.
  • heartbeatChange the Health Field. Some parents dream of their children being the ones to cure AIDS or find a cure for cancer. You could be that person who discovers cures, treatments, and techniques that could change the field. What you do today could have a huge impact on the world. For some people, that is the sole reason for becoming a member of the health field.
  • heartbeatLongevity. As long as you do your job well, you never have to worry about being laid off or fired. People will always get sick. People are always being born. People will always need some form of medical attention.
  • heartbeatMulti-Disciplined. Healthcare professionals need be proficient in numerous disciplines. You will have to have people skills, understand medicine, science, and biostatics, to name a few.
  • heartbeatDiverse Coursework. As a health professional, you are going to be learning a lot of things throughout your studies, but not only that, you can keep studying and advancing your degree. You can obtain master’s degrees, doctorates, multiple doctorates, and still keep learning. Once you have a your medical degree, you can go on to study other areas of specialty, thus expanding your practice even further.
  • heartbeatHelp Those in Need. Whether you are tending to sick children in your neighborhood, or you want to do missionary work in a third world country, you are providing a service that they would otherwise not get. In some situations, by you tending to those in need, you can be saving a life.
  • heartbeatFighting Disease. Upon graduation, the path you take could put you head to head with serious diseases that, as of right now, have no cure. You could make that discovery that could cure millions of people afflicted with a disease. You never know for certain where your career in the medical field will take you!

What Occupations Are There In Healthcare?

With all of these great reasons to become a health professional, you might be wondering what careers are actually available? There are a lot of great career paths that you could go into, depending on what you’re most interested in.

While we won’t go into specific occupations like pediatric doctors or flight nurses, we do want to give you a basic overview of what is available in the healthcare industry.

EMTs And Paramedics 

These people are your first responders in an emergency situation. If you call 911 because of an accident or someone is severely ill, these men and women are going to be there to provide some care and transport you to the hospital.

There is a difference between these two professionals, though. EMTs complete a complete about 120 to 150 hours of education. A paramedic will need to take upward to 1,800 hours! Because of their advanced training, paramedics will earn upward to $40,000 a year, depending on where you are located.

Paramedics in front of an ambulance.

These professionals also have different levels of what they can do for you in said emergency situation. An EMT are trained to provide CPR, administer oxygen, glucose for diabetics, and help people who are suffering from an asthma attack or an allergic reaction.

A paramedic is trained much more in anatomy, physiology, cardiology, medical procedures and medications. They are able to administer medications, start IV treatments, provide advanced airway management for patients, resuscitate and support patients who are experiencing severe trauma or a heart attack.

Nurses

Whenever you go into a hospital, doctor’s office, or even a clinic, you’re going to have some type of interaction with a nurse. These people are the ones who provide patients with care in accordance to doctor’s orders. Depending on what kind of nurse you are, you may have different duties.

For example, if you’re an DON (Director of Nursing) of a nursing facility, you’re going to be able to provide care for patients and ensure the overall function of the nursing staff, but you’ll also be responsible for relaying doctor’s orders to the nursing staff.

If you’re a surgical nurse, you will be assisting the surgeon in the beginning and during the surgery. You’ll also be the liaison between the surgeon and the family.

To become a nurse, you will have to go through intense schooling and take an exam called the NCLEX exam. When you get your license, you can expect to earn between $45,000 to $85,000.

Physician Assistants  

A physician’s assistant is a medical professional who can be found in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and even a clinic. They can do the routine work that a physician would normally do, which allows the physician to do other functions and care for patients that need more attention.

In many places, a PA will be licensed to be able to perform regular diagnosis’ and write prescriptions.

They regularly assess situations and can treat a patient according to acceptable practices and standards. They can also determine whether or not the patient will need more advanced care than they can provide, to which they will bring in a physician to finish the visit.

To become a PA, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in biology or a similar field. They will also need to have a post-graduate degree that is similar to the requirements a regular physician has. They will need to pass a board certification exam and maintain that license with continuing education.

With all of this work they must go through, you can expect to earn between $74,000 to $120,000 depending on your location and skill.

Physicians 

There are many different career paths a physician can take. They could opt to go into family medicine, general practice or chief medical officer, to name a few. The physician is going to be the person who will diagnose and assist a patient with routine checkups and exams. They are the first person you’ll see when you are ill and need some kind of treatment.

Physician.

The doctor will be able to collect, record, and maintain patient information like medical history, reports, and results from any testing performed.

The doctor will be able to explain procedures and tests to the patient, as well as create a treatment plan or recommend you to a specialist. The doctor will monitor your condition and progress and assess how well the treatment is working out.

To become a doctor, you are going to have to go through medical school and do residency program, and obtain a license to practice medicine.

All of this could take 15 years or more of education. It’s not going to be easy, but many find it very beneficial because you can earn anywhere between $52,000 to $220,000, depending on skill, experience, and where you’re located.

Pharmacists 

A pharmacist is that person who fills the prescription your doctor prescribes. They are generally found in a pharmacy or a drugstore, but they can work in a hospital or a medical clinic. Pharmacists who work in the hospital must be able to analyze in-patient and out-patient medications, so being able to pay close attention to detail is crucial.

The pharmacist will be able to fill those prescriptions, but they will also be able to decide what medication is right for each patient. They’ll be able to spot errors by a physician who prescribes medication that shouldn’t be mixed with other medications a patient is currently taking. Should this happen, the pharmacist will have to call the patient’s doctor regarding their concerns.

To become a pharmacist, you’ll need a doctorate degree in pharmacology and several years of experience in a hospital or residency. You’ll need computer skills as well as interpersonal skills as well. As a pharmacist, you can expect to make between $72,000 and $133,000.

Lab Technicians

Lab techs are the people who are going to be operating the machines that will administer your medical tests. They will complete clerical functions that will require them to identify, process, and label data, while also delivering that data to the correct department.

The lab tech will complete reports based on their discovery, as well as collecting samples based on the project’s needs. These people have to follow safety and privacy policies to ensure health standards, patient confidentiality, and experiment quality are intact.

These folks handle lab equipment, keep inventory records, as well as performing tests as required by the doctor. Their main duty is to complete quality control to make sure the data collected is of high quality.

They have to record control analysis and perform function checks on the instruments to ensure they work properly for the next test. They usually wear protective uniforms and accessories to minimize accidents or contamination.

To become a lab tech, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in medical technology, clinical science or a field related to the position. They may also need industry certifications and have computer skills. As a lab tech, you can expect to earn between $26,000 to $63,000 per year.

Therapist 

This is a very broad classification, as you could be a physical therapist, occupational therapist, respiratory therapist, or a mental health therapist.

Physical therapist.

Physical Therapist 

A physical therapist is someone who works one on one with a patient to help them get back on their feet. The patient could have a wide variety of conditions ranging from a bad sprain all the way up to a stroke. The physical therapist is responsible for helping the patient regain the ability to perform every day activities.

To be a physical therapist, you will need a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy and complete an exam specifically for registered physical therapists. You can expect to earn between $59,000 to $97,000 per year.

Occupational Therapist 

An occupational therapist helps patients have better control over their bodies so they can perform daily activities better. They will evaluate a patient’s ability and then set goals according to the patient or their family’s needs.

These goals can be modified as the patient’s condition improves or worsens. Examples of the functions the occupational therapist can help patients with include decision making, abstract reasoning, memory, and more.

To be an occupational therapist you will have to graduate from an occupational therapy program, as well has obtaining a bachelor’s degree in occupational or physical therapy. As an occupational therapist, you can expect to earn between $53,000 to $96,000 per year.

Respiratory Therapist 

As a respiratory therapist, you will be working with patients who have difficulty breathing, or if they have cardiopulmonary concerns. These patients can be premature babies whose lungs haven’t developed, children or adults who have COPD, cystic fibrosis, or asthma.

The respiratory therapist will examine the patient and discuss the doctor’s treatment plan for them. These therapists can in a home health care and they will be responsible for setting up life-support equipment like ventilators and the like.

To be a respiratory therapist, you will have to have the minimum of an associate’s degree, although many will have a bachelor’s degree. Many therapists will have graduated from a program that focuses on respiratory therapy training. You can expect to earn between $40,000 to $73,000 per year.

Mental Health Therapist

This is another umbrella occupation, as clinical psychologists, family and marriage therapists, school counselors, and social workers are lobbed into this group. These professionals use psychological methods to help their patients overcome psychological or behavioral challenges.

Because there are different types of therapies performed under this group, there will be different educational requirements and credentials required for each. In general, you’ll need anywhere from a Master’s Degree to a Doctoral degree. In general, you can expect to earn between $32,000 to $62,000.

How To Become A Health Professional?

Deciding that you want to get into the health care is the first step in the long path to becoming one of these men and women who care for others. The real fun starts when you actually start the process! But, what does that entail? Well, it all begins with having a high school diploma or a GED. After that, the prerequisites are different for each health professional.

A girl looking for documents.

EMT/Paramedic

To become an EMT or a paramedic, you will need to complete basic EMT training. EMTs will need about 120 to 150 course work hours, while a paramedic will need 1,200 to 1,800 hours of coursework. Once the course has been completed, you’ll need to pass a certification exam on the state or national level. 

Nurses 

To become a nurse, you will need an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree from an accredited nursing program. You’ll have to take an exam called the NCLEX exam and then meet state-level licensing requirements. You can do nursing programs all the way up to the doctoral level. 

Physician Assistant

To become a PA, you will have to do more than 2,000 hours of clinical rotations, as well as passing an accredited PA program. You will have to pass the PANCE exam and obtain a state license before you can begin practicing. 

Physician

To become a physician, you going to be putting in a lot of work. Undergraduate studies is going to be very important because it will prepare you for the challenge that is med school. While there is no specific major required in order to be admitted to med school, you will want to have a bachelor’s degree in biology or chemistry.

Before getting into med school, you will have to take an exam called the MCAT. Having high MCAT scores and GPA are crucial when trying to get into your school of choice. After the exam, and you get into medical school, you will want to choose what field you want to specialize in.

Once you graduate medical school, you will need to complete at least a 3 year residency, but it could be as long as 11 years. 

Pharmacist

To become a pharmacist, you will need to have a postsecondary degree. You can choose between a 2-year degree or a 4-year degree, with the former being more focused on the actual pharmacy education.

For advanced study, you’ll need to take general and organic chemistry, human anatomy and physiology, molecular and cellular biology, microbiology, statistics, calculus and English. Once these prerequisites have been completed, you may then apply for a 4-year doctoral program for pharmacy work. 

Therapist 

To become a therapist, it really depends on what you want to specialize in. In most instances, you will need to obtain a bachelor’s degree first in psychology, behavioral disorders and human development.

It is important that you maintain a high GPA so that you can move on to master’s degree courses. You’ll need to participate in relevant training programs and then complete a supervised clinical work, which will take between 2,000 to 4,000 hours. Finally you will need to apply for a therapist licensure. 

Important Exams

While going over some of the prerequisites for being a doctor or a nurse, we mentioned two exams, the MCAT and NCLEX. Let’s take a look at what these two exams are and how to prepare for them.

Glasses places on a pile of books.

What Is The MCAT?

The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is an exam that is required by most medical schools. Hopeful medical school students will need to take this computer-based exam if they want to get into their school of choice. The content of this exam is broken up into 5 sections:

  • copyBiological Sciences
  • copyCARS (Critical Analysis and Reasoning)
  • copyPhysical Sciences
  • copyPsychological
  • copySocial and Biological Foundations of Behavior

Medical school admissions officers will use the MCAT score (as well as your overall GPA) to determine how you will fare as a student in their school. The exam is designed to test skills that will be necessary once you’re in the program.

The exam is 7.5 hours and you will have to pay a $310 registration fee to be able to take the exam. This fee includes distributing the MCAT scores to the medical schools you apply for. Do keep in mind that you’ll incur additional fees if you cancel or reschedule your exam.

The maximum score you can achieve on this exam is 528, with an average score of 125 for each section. The exam is available 15 times a year, however, you can only take the exam 3 times in a single testing period, 4 times during 2 consecutive year period, or ultimately, 7 times in an entire lifetime.

How Do I Prepare For The MCAT?

Preparing for the MCAT isn’t something you’ll want to put off. This is going to be the most important exam you will take before getting into medical school, so it’s crucial that you take it seriously.

Many students who are looking to go into medical school will start preparing for the exam 3 to 4 months in advance, but some will even prepare 6 months prior to the exam to ensure that they get a passing grade.

So, how do you prepare?

First of all, it would be a good idea to know what you’re up against. To do this, you’ll want to take a practice exam under test conditions before you do any prep. You can take the exam for free online at the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) website. This is the best way to determine where you are at with the content, but also the format of the test.

Next, you will want to get study materials—and we aren’t talking about the notes and text books from your undergrad courses. You want to get a MCAT prep course that will provide you with information, study sessions, tutoring sessions, videos, practice questions, and practice tests.

You can look online to find the best MCAT prep course, but we have a guide that will walk you through what to look for when choosing your MCAT prep course.

After you enroll in the course that fits your budget and your needs, you’re going to want to study. When you study, you don’t want to memorize anything—you’ve already shown that you are capable of learning new information.

You need to be able to understand the material you’ve learned. The questions you are going to be asked on the exam will require you to understand biological and physical science material. As you do the review, ask yourself if you can explain the material to a child. If you can explain the information to a youngster in terms they’ll understand, then you’re ready.

What Is The NCLEX?

The NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) is a standardized exam that every nursing student must take in order to be able to begin working as a nurse at the entry level. To be able to take this exam, you must first complete an accredited nursing degree.

Then, you will have to apply for a nursing license from the state board of nursing. Once the board has decided that you do (or do not) meet the prerequisites to take the NCLEX, you will then be able to register for the exam.

When you’ve applied for your license from the state board of nursing, you’ll have to wait until your NCLEX Examination Bulletin arrives in the mail. With that in hand, you can then register with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to be able to take the exam.

You can do this either by phoning in the registration, or you can fill out a form and mail it in. You should be aware that there is a $200 fee to take the exam.

Once your eligibility has been verified, you’re going to receive an Authorization to Take the Test (ATT), as well as testing centers and detailed instructions on scheduling an appointment so you can actually take the exam!

NCLEX - National Council Licensure Examination

The material covered on the exam is broken into “categories of client needs” which is as follows:

  • arrow-rightSafe, Effective Care Environment
  • arrow-rightPsychosocial Integrity
  • arrow-rightHealth Promotion and Maintenance
  • arrow-rightPhysiological Integrity

The exam is going to consist of 75 to 265 questions. The reason why there isn’t a set number of questions is because the number of questions you get is determined as you take the test. The exam uses a software that gets more challenging as you go. You’ll know when you’re done taking the test by one of three ways:

  • checkThe maximum of 5 hours of testing has passed
  • checkThe maximum of 265 questions have been answered
  • checkThe adaptive program determines you’ve passed the exam in each subject area with a 95%

​​​​How To Prepare For The NCLEX?

Taking the NCLEX is as important as taking the MCAT, except it is taken at the end of your schooling instead of at the beginning. To prepare for this important exam, you don’t want to wait until you’re about to graduate.

In order to be confident about taking the exam, you will want to first take a practice exam to see in what areas you are comfortable and where you need extra help. This will give you plenty of opportunity to do practice questions so you know what you need to focus on.

Next, you will want to get NCLEX prep materials to help you study. Like with the MCAT prep courses, there are going to be an over-abundance of these materials available and trying to choose which is going to work for you can be stressful. We’ve created a guide that will help you choose the right NCLEX prep course.

When you have settled on what materials are going to work for you, you’ll want to create a daily study schedule. This schedule will allow you to study for your exam, but also allow you to still have a life! It may be hard to turn down a night out with your friends, but with your future on the line, they’ll understand.

Before you know it, it will be exam time and by sticking to your schedule, you should feel confident enough to take the exam and ace it!

Conclusion

In today’s economy, there aren’t many fields that will always have open availability. We are faced with manufacturing companies moving out of the country, automation is becoming more and more of a reality, and downsizing is a constant threat. Of all of these problems, there is one field that will always have the need for workers, and that field is the healthcare field.

It doesn’t matter if you are a nurse’s aide who transports residents from the dining room to the activity room. It doesn’t matter if you are an EMT responding to an emergency. It doesn’t matter if you are a surgeon preparing a for surgery, your job is safe because there will always be people who need medical attention and/or assistance in some way, shape, or form.

In this guide, we have discussed all the reasons why someone would want to come into the medical industry, whether you want to provide top notch care to impoverish neighborhoods, or if you want to be a pioneer in your specialty. Heck, even if you aren’t interested in changing the world, the benefits, the salary, and the level of respect you get is enough for some.

All joking aside, deciding to become a health professional is not a decision one should take lightly. It takes a lot of work to get there. If you want to become an EMT, you have to put in hours of training, certifications, and testing. If you want to become a lab tech, you’ll still have to go to school to understand how to work the advanced medical equipment.

Medical professional smiling at the camera.

If you want to become a nurse, you have to pass an accredited nursing program and take the NCLEX exam before you can start caring for patients. If you want to become a physician, you have to take a difficult exam before you even get into medical school! After that, you have years of schooling, exams, and complete up to 11 years of a residency.

A career in the healthcare industry is a demanding job. It will test you in ways that you never dreamed possible. But, at the end of the day, knowing that you’re making a difference in the world one person at a time is worth it, wouldn’t you say?

Resources:

PicmonicAllNursingSchoolsUSNewsLearnHowToBecomePayScaleBureauOfLaborStatisticsMedLinePlusMPHProgramsList

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