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What Are The Careers In Medicine – That Don’t Involve Being A Doctor?

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When we are children, we tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the things we want to do when we grow up. Most of us go through a phase when we decide we want to be a doctor, even if it doesn’t last long.

It’s easy to understand why the profession would appeal. You’re saving lives, usually earning good money and have good prospects. Even today, doctors are seen as pillars of the community and even young children can understand that.

As children, we see doctors as something close to miracle workers. It’s only natural that we would want a part of that for ourselves. We see ourselves with a stethoscope around our necks, wearing quality scrubs and calmly dealing with an illness. It’s an attractive vision of ourselves and how our role in society might pan out.


Yet not all of us that dreamed of it are cut out to be a doctor. It is a rewarding profession on many levels, but it’s also one of the most punishing. The hours are relentless, the problems extreme and the emotional toll it can take can be soul-crushing. We see these problems far more clearly when we’re about to embark on a career, and our childhood dream seems to be more like fantasy.

There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you’re not cut out for something. In fact, particularly with this profession, it’s a real strength. By stepping aside and acknowledging it’s not for you, you open up a space for someone who may thrive in that arena. There are many reasons why being a doctor is not feasible for you as an adult, but that doesn’t mean that the medical dream has to end there.

Healthcare is one of the most reliable sectors in the world. For as long as people, there are going to be people getting sick. It doesn’t get much better for job security. So while a medical doctorate is something that isn’t for you, it doesn’t mean you have to give up the field entirely.

As adults, we can appreciate that no man is an island. Doctors do not work alone; they rely on the help of a variety of people to do their work properly. If you still wish to be involved in the medical field, then the options don’t stop with hands-on doctor care.

#1: Nurse

We’ll deal with the obvious first: a career in nursing. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a step down from being a doctor or somehow easier. While the training is less intensive, nurses are the backbone of the medical profession.

If you’re a people person, then nursing could combine this with your desire to work in this field. Nurses spend far more time with patients than doctors and have a hands-on aspect – particularly in hospitals. If you want to see people through rough times and provide medical support also, then this can be a fantastic and rewarding career.


#2: Midwifery

Don’t let the name put you off – this applies to the guys as well. With this role, you are focused right in the thick of the things, the very essence of the human condition. You see the beginning of a new life and help coach new parents on their way.
An alternative within this branch is to be a doula. This takes less training, but still puts you right at the forefront of neo-natal care.

#3: Radiology

In 1895, Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen discovered the X-ray – and the entire medical community rejoiced. Until then, the location of tumors and the severity of broken bones was little more than guesswork. Yes, educated guesswork that allowed humanity to get to this point, but still guesswork. With the advent of X-rays, everything changed (and we also now had a word for the phonetic alphabet, besides xylophone).

Radiology is the science of peering inside a body without making an incision. It is vital in almost all fields of medicine, with a use in both diagnostics and treatment. If you have a nose for problem-solving and a head for physics, then it’s well worth considering.


#4: Audiology

While the deep medical issues around the ears fall to ENT doctors, audiology is a specialist profession in its right. Focused on issues of hearing loss, it is ideal if you love the idea of helping people back to their best on one of the fundamentals.

While the majority of your work would be with elderly patients, you would see those of all age groups. The causes of deafness can be endless, from old age, to an accident, to congenital defects. Working closely with ENTs, audiologists are experts on one of the most vital senses that we have.


#5: Counseling and Support Services

If you’re good at talking with people, then counseling may be the perfect vocation for you.
There is a common misconception that counselors and psychiatrists are one of the same. But the division is similar to audiologists and ENT doctors. A counselor does not require a medical degree, but a specific qualification they are expert in.

There are various fields of counseling to consider. You have the standard kind of “therapy” that everyone thinks of when they hear the word counselor. If that doesn’t appeal, then addiction counseling is a growing field and can allow you to make a real difference.

Counseling takes on all forms, from one-on-one talking therapies to group Cognitive Behavioural Therapies. As the world at large becomes better at addressing mental health on the same lines as physical help, this is your chance to make a different.


#6: Pharmacist

It may sometimes seem that pharmacology is just about dispensing medicines – partially because it is. Yet there is much more to this complex field than just standing behind a counter dispensing pills. You are a port of call for people with medicine queries and will need a firm eye for details.

Outside of the conventional pharmacy setting, you also have the option of moving into research. This can mean you’re at the frontline of developing new drugs which could eventually cure horrific diseases. Again, you will need to be science-based in your strengths, but the rewards can be tremendous.


#7: Occupational Health

Occupational health focuses on allowing people with disabilities to go about their lives in as normal way as possible. You would specialize in aids and adaptations, both at home and at people’s places of work.

It’s a great career path if you are empathetic and can put yourself in others’ shoes. You have to have a good understanding of the difficulties that people face, and a keen desire to problem-solve. There is also work available in all sorts of different ways, from hospitals to through government schemes.


#8: Dieticians

Please note, dieticians is a protected term and is not synonymous with nutritionists. If you want to be a nutritionist, go ahead and call yourself one right now. Job done! You’re a nutritionist, and no one is going to stop you.

Being a dietician is the medical science of understanding how we eat. You will deal with people with weight problems as well as medical conditions that cause malabsorption. It’s a flourishing field with plenty of further investment and interest, and you can be at the front of it.


#9: Technicians

Think of all the machines involved in the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. While the X-ray is one that has been covered, there are hundreds more. Slipped a disc in your lower back? You need an MRI. Suspected ovarian cyst? Order a PET scan. And these are just the tip of a very large iceberg.

These machines are not operated by doctors, but by specialist technologists who know the machines inside out. You will be responsible for ensuring the harvest of reliable data and helping doctors be able to make the best diagnoses they can. It helps to be interested in technology and how it can apply to healthcare.

One sidenote: if you want to work with people as a fundamental reason for choosing this profession, perhaps look elsewhere. Techs tend to work behind the scenes, never actually conversing with the patients they are imaging behind a brief hello. If hands-on time is important to you, then do consider this before deciding to pursue this field. On the other hand, if you’re less of a people person, then this may be ideal.

#10: Opticians

It may seem like a stretch to call this a medical profession, but it is not. Opticians do not just find glasses for people with vision problems. They are the first line of defense against health conditions such as glaucoma and have even been known to identify brain tumors.


The above are just the beginning. The medical field is broad and varied. If you are willing to put in the extra effort, then finding a field that suits and excites you cannot be far behind. Whichever you select, this is an excellent area to be involved in and one you should be applauded for considering. The very best of luck.

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