Medical and Health Professions

Working in a health care setting is a rewarding experience, one that will allow you to care for others and develop valuable skills. While many nursing schools are available to train students to become nurses at all levels, there are various other types of health professions you could consider if you want to work in a medical environment.

Allied health comprises several types of medical professions that work with patients and support the work of physicians and nurses. Examples of some types of allied health professions include respiratory therapists, emergency medical technicians, and ultrasound technologists. Allied health professionals undergo training at the college level to become highly specialized for their specific jobs.


Specialists who work in rehabilitation are a part of the medical field that works to promote healing among patients who have suffered from an injury or illness. Some other types of rehabilitation professionals help patients recover from issues that affect mental health, such as alcoholism or drug abuse. These types of experts may also work in counseling or therapy to treat mental illness.

Dentistry is another type of health profession, as the teeth and structures of the mouth are a part of the human body and require care to stay healthy. Some types of dentistry professions include dentists; dental hygienists, who create dental appliances.

Pharmacists are trained in the knowledge of medications and work to dispense the amount and types of drugs that are called for in prescriptions. To become trained as a pharmacist, you must attend college and achieve your doctoral degree in pharmacy. Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists in packaging and delivering medications as well as observing for adverse reactions and reporting them to the pharmacist.

Professionals who work to help patients with vision problems are trained in subjects pertaining to eye function. Some types of vision specialists include optometrists, ophthalmic assistants, vision therapists, and teachers for those with visual impairments. Depending on the level of care, training to work in vision-related specialties can range from two years of college study for ophthalmic assistants to four years of medical school following college to become an optometrist.

Although there are many types of medical professions with various jobs and training requirements, they all have at least one point in common: they work to help patients in potentially satisfying careers.

Professional Specialties

Becoming a nurse provides you with an abundance of opportunities for work within many specialties. A nursing specialty is a subgroup of nursing that cares for a specific population of patients. Professional specialties have occurred in nursing in areas where there is a need for extra learning and concentrated focus for patients. This happens particularly in patient populations that require more complicated care.

Most undergraduate nursing schools train you to become a nurse and gain licensure to practice. If you then want to choose a professional specialty, you may need to begin by working in a general care area to build your skills and discover what you like. You may already have an interest in a particular specialty and you could also begin working in that area upon graduation. Many nurses work in a certain area for a while and then decide that they want to gain more education to perform specialized care.

Nursing specialties may be supported by professional organizations and research journals. When you obtain specialty certification, you may be required to take a specific number of hours of continuing education credits to maintain your status. Classes, conferences, reading materials, and online programs are all methods of keeping up your certification in a professional specialty. Some types of specialties require advanced education, and you may need to return to school to complete a master’s degree in a particular area of interest.

Nurses with professional specialties may be highly esteemed as experts in their field of care. When you focus on a nursing specialty, you are performing work that other nurses working in different areas are less qualified to do. Some nurses within professional specialties have a higher pay grade because they have extra work to do to maintain their status. Specialized nursing skills are also valued by other health care professionals and provide areas of interest that you can focus on and become highly trained. Because there are so many different areas of nursing expertise, you can choose whatever field of interest that you desire and work toward a goal of obtaining a professional specialty. In addition, because of the severe nurse shortage, once you have some experience you can use travel nursing jobs to work all over the country and not be tied down if that’s your desire.

Job Search

Landing your first job as a new nurse is exciting as you look forward to putting your skills to work. Finding that initial job depends on how you search, what areas you would like to work in, and who you talk to.

Before applying for your first job, consider the areas of nursing that you are interested in. Although you may not be qualified as a new graduate to work everywhere, there are many places that are willing to hire new graduates. Contact the places you are interested in and check job boards and employment sites that are advertising for nursing positions.

In some situations, you may begin your job search before you have graduated. Some nursing schools allow students to work in a setting with the understanding that the hospital will hire them after graduation. You may also talk with nurses who work in the area you like and see how they feel about the job and the hours. Consider not only the type of work that you will do, but the potential hours and the types of patients you will be caring for. You may consider some of the areas in which you worked as a student.

Once you have narrowed down your decision, fill out the required application materials, which may include transcripts and letters of reference. Consider applying for several jobs in order to keep your options open if you are not chosen for one in particular. Be honest in your application process; you do not want to be hired under any false assumptions.

When you interview for your first job, prepare to be placed in hypothetical scenarios to answer as to how you would handle a situation. These questions are designed to see if your common sense as a nurse matches your education level. Go to the interview with your own questions of your potential employer. Ask about a typical day of work, what training is available, and what the schedule is like. Ask for a tour of the facility to see how others work on a regular day.

A first job is exciting and can be full of possibilities as you look for work. While a job search may be daunting, by preparing yourself for the task and being open-minded about what work you will do, you can land that great first job as a nurse.