What kind of careers come to mind when you think of helping others in need of medical care? Doctors and nurses are likely high on the list. But as you might imagine, hospitals and clinics are bursting with professionals of many different stripes. And all of them are necessary.
Doctors and nurses are notorious for helping save patients. But everyone plays a unique role in caring for these patients in need. What if you’re drawn to the medical field but you’re a bit squeamish about blood?
Think there’s no hope? Think again! A healthy number of medical jobs without blood do exist. So as long as you know you’re committed to helping people, remember, you don’t have to be a doctor or a nurse to have an impactful medical career.
It’s true that in any job you might have to unexpectedly deal with blood, but we compiled a list of those medical jobs where you’re least likely to have contact with the red stuff. We even broken down our list into two job categories for convenience: patient-oriented and technology-focused.
Note: You won’t see some jobs you might expect on this list. Some jobs you wouldn’t necessarily associate with blood contact actually do come into contact with it, especially during emergency situations. Jobs like radiologic technologist, dental assistant, diagnostic medical sonographer and medical assistant can be included in that list.
Patient-focused careersIf you enjoy interacting with others and aren’t afraid to comfort the sick or injured, a patient-focused job in the healthcare industry could be a perfect fit for you. In these careers, you might be the first point of contact in a doctor’s office, or you could help patients re-learn skills after suffering from an injury.
The following professionals work in a variety of settings, but they all work directly with patients.
A pharmacy technician’s main responsibility is to dispense medications. They work closely with pharmacists to fill prescriptions, mix medications and distribute medicine to patients.
Pharmacy techs are able to work in several different environments, including pharmacies located in grocery stores, department stores and hospitals.
Getting started: Pharmacy techs should be detail-oriented and have customer service skills, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While it’s possible to become a pharmacy tech with just a high school diploma, a college education or certificate helps you stand out to potential employers. Pharmacy techs also undergo extensive on-the-job-training before being allowed to work alone.
Expect a background check for this career, due to its access to prescription drugs. Some states also require certification from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board or the National Healthcareer Association.
A medical administration degree usually leads to a career in a medical office. Medical administrators are often tasked with billing and interacting with patients and sometimes scheduling procedures. They take care of much of the behind-the-scenes clerical work that keeps a medical office function.
Getting started: A high school degree is necessary to become a medical administrator, and some employers prefer candidates to have a medical administration assistant certificate. Either way, you’ll need to be organized, have great computer skills and be prepared for on-the-job training.
Physical therapist assistants perform several different functions to aid patients in recovery. Patients seek physical therapy for any number of reasons including illness, injury or surgery. The field has a particular bright future, with the BLS projecting jobs to grow 40 percent by 2024! As a physical therapist assistant, your responsibility is to monitor patients during therapy, help patients stretch and exercise and assist them with any equipment they may need to improve or maintain mobility.
Getting started: Physical therapist assistants to have an associate degree, according to the BLS. Physical therapist assistants usually work in health practitioner offices, nursing homes or hospitals. The BLS considers compassion, physical stamina and interpersonal skills necessary to perform this job.
While physical therapy focuses on treating patients after injury, occupational therapy helps patients with more permanent disabilities. Occupational therapy assistants monitor patient progress, help those with developmental disabilities improve coordination and assist patients with stretching and other therapeutic activities. Occupational therapy assistants are also commonly employed in hospitals, nursing homes and health practitioner offices.
Getting started: An associate degree is usually required to be an occupational therapy assistant, according to the BLS. Additionally, most are licensed through the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy –but licensing requirements vary by state. Physical strength and compassion are considered by the BLS to be important qualities for those seeking this career.
If working with patients is more your idea of a nightmare than a dream job, don’t worry. The healthcare field offers many jobs that are more behind-the-scenes. If you love working with technology, there are even more choices available.
Healthcare is a booming and complex field. As systems fight to become safer, more reliable and more efficient, the demand for technology professionals in healthcare is rising.
1. Medical coder
Electronic health records have paved the way for a handful of healthcare technology careers. If you’re looking for one you can land rather quickly, becoming a medical coder is a great option. Medical coders analyze and manage patient data, navigate electronic health records systems and code notes from patient appointments.
Getting started: You can land this position in as few as nine months with a medical coding certificate.* You might also consider earning a medical coding certification to validate your technical skills.
Health information technicians organize and maintain databases, review patient records, perform data analysis and track patient outcomes. These professionals organize and maintain databases, review patient records, perform data analysis and track patient outcomes.
Getting started: Many health information technicians have an associate degree. In addition, most employers require these professionals to be a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT), as certified by passing the RHIT exam. Though technical skills are a must to be successful in this career, other necessary skills identified by the BLS include analytical skills and being detail-oriented.
If you’re interested in what health information technicians do, but want more of a challenge, a career as a health information manager is worth considering. In addition to database maintenance, health information managers have to be knowledgeable about coding and software, as well as constantly fluctuating industry rules and regulations. They’re typically employed at a hospital or doctor’s office.
Getting started: Most health information managers have at least a bachelor’s degree. Many employers also require candidates to obtain Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) certification.
And there are still more…
These are only a handful of career paths for those seeking medical careers without blood. Whether you hope to be directly involved in patient care, or directly involved with technology (or both), there is definitely a place for you in the field of health sciences.
To learn more about all of your options, check out our Healthcare Career Guide.
*Time to complete is dependent on accepted transfer credits and courses completed each quarter.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in February 2013. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2016.