10 Non-Traditional Careers in Healthcare

As a woman entering the healthcare field, your experience with all there is to offer may be somewhat limited thanks to how women are presented on television — do you choose to become a nurse or physician?

However, your options are not nearly so limited. In this article, we’re going to explore 10 career options available to those of you with a sincere desire to help people. Though, like Irma Cota, President and CEO of North County Health Services, helping people doesn’t always mean working directly with patients.

Cytotechnologists are medical laboratory professionals who study cells and their anomalies and evaluate tissue samples for disease. Women in this profession tend to enjoy chemistry, biology, and math, as well as sitting over a microscope for large portions of their day.

To become a cytotechnologist, a bachelor’s degree is required, preferably in one of those focuses listed above. As well as passing the certification exam from the American Society for Clinical Pathology
Perfusionists operate the cardiopulmonary bypass machines (also known as heart-lung machines) that help patients’ organs function during cardiac surgeries. Perfusionists form part of a team that includes cardiac surgeons, anesthesiologists, and physician assistants.

To become a perfusionist, you need to have a bachelor’s degree in any subject plus a CCP (Certified Clinical Perfusionist) credential, or a four-year perfusion education degree from an accredited university.

Space Psychologist
Being a space psychologist doesn’t actually involve space travel. You are, however, helping those astronauts who will be traveling in space. From advising selection panels to pre and post-mission counseling, you’ll be making sure our astronauts are emotionally and mentally fit.

The minimum you’ll need to break into this field is a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology, organizational psychology, or another discipline. Though, most space psychologists have their Ph.D.

Orthotists help to enhance a patient’s limb, while prosthetists help to replace it. Both, however, work through the evaluation and assessment processes to ensure their devices are a proper fit for each patient.

Most orthotists and prosthetists have master’s degrees in their respective fields and participate in one-year residency programs, followed by certification. A state license may also be required depending on which state you reside.

Pedorthists are experts in feet, from anatomy to shoe construction. There are a number of conditions that require special footwear needs, including diabetes, arthritis, flat feet, and bunions. The pedorthist’s job is to evaluate those needs and customize footwear that will help these patients with whatever mobility issues or limitations they’re experiencing.

To become a pedorthist, you need at least a GED plus 1,000 hours of practical experience. And you’ll need to be certified through either the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics or BOC International.

There are a number of options here, including legal consulting and TV/media consulting. Legal consultants are not lawyers, but they do have a background in both law and medicine, and typically go through the same training as lawyers. They provide legal guidance to clients and businesses.

TV/media consultants make sure your favorite movies and television shows are depicting what hospital life is really like, including all that medical jargon that nurses and doctors use.

Medical Writing/Illustration
Medical writing is a broad area that includes everything from marketing/ad copy to regulatory documents. Medical writers combine medical knowledge with writing ability and communication skills, and can work in a number of settings: clinics, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, medical journals, and more.

Medical illustrators are designers, graphic artists, photographers, and videographers with some medical experience. Though, this tends to be less of a requirement than it is for the medical writers.

Clinical Social Worker
Clinical social workers help patients improve their mental and emotional well-being. This area of social work focuses on assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of a number of behavioral disorders. Clinical social workers can be found in a variety of environments, including clinics, hospitals, schools, military facilities, substance abuse clinics, and child welfare agencies.

Clinical social workers must first earn a master’s degree in social work from an accredited university, followed by supervised clinical experience. They also have to pass the required licensing exams for their state.

Art Therapist
Art therapists use the creative process to improve mental well-being. Much of their work is helping patients to express themselves through art using crayons, paint, chalk, and other mediums. Their work, while having a strong creative component, is based on psychotherapeutic theories.

Art therapists must be registered and board-certified. And they typically have master’s degrees in either art therapy or psychology.

Medical Interpreter
Medical interpreters combine their knowledge of medical subject matter with their language abilities. They work to convey the complexity of healthcare procedures that can be lost in translation or misunderstood by non-native English speakers.

Medical interpreters must be fluent in their native language and second language. It also helps to have relevant healthcare industry experience. Most medical interpreter jobs can be found in large, urban areas that experience the most immigration.

It’s easy to get caught up in the obvious, and when it comes to healthcare professions for women, the first thing people usually think of is nursing. But even beginning your career in nursing doesn’t mean there aren’t numerous other career advancement opportunities beyond just that.

Just because you begin a healthcare career in one area, it would be wrong to assume that other options are not available. Just ask Dr. Naishu Wang, President and CEO of Alfa Scientific Designs Inc. While Dr. Wang began her career in China working as a medical doctor, she realized there are many other ways in which to help people.

“Through it all, I never lost faith in myself,” said Dr. Wang. “I realize how hard it is to switch careers mid-stream, but it’s even more difficult to make the transition in your adopted country.”

If you really have your heart set on being a physician, opening up a private practice is a great way to escape the hamster-wheel environment in most hospitals and clinics. Just don’t forget the insurance. If you’re not sure about when you’ll need business insurance upon opening a private practice, it’s important that you take extra time to learn the ins and outs of protecting yourself and your future patients.

Many of the professions on this list are likely ones you hadn’t heard of before today. However, when it comes to the healthcare sector, this is just a fraction of the different jobs that are available to women looking for a career that involves the one thing common in all health and wellness professions: a strong desire to help people.