The global pandemic and Covid-19 have shown us just how important healthcare workers are to the world. If you’re a medical student wondering how you can help out, curious about where your career will end up, or getting started, there are some areas of interest you might want to think more about. From surgery and dentistry to healthcare management and psychiatry, there are so many areas of practice to choose from. Whether you’re currently working toward your MD or a nursing student, or another health student, here are five areas of practice that might work well or at least be worth taking a second look at.
Many medical students opt to practice in the area of surgery. Spending years in school practicing how to make a small incision or watching more invasive surgeries, these students will one day have the ability to save lives, relieve patients of chronic pain, and change outcomes for critically injured people.
Whether doctors or people studying to be surgical nurses or anesthesiologists, surgical students go through challenging courses and often do mandatory residencies and fellowships to learn their important art. These students have a strong background in the sciences and anatomy but are also detail-oriented and have impeccable fine motor skills.
The same way a florist can spot the difference between the appropriate English ivy hanging plants for a room with dim sunlight or succulents for a room with too much sun, a surgical resident has the skills and know-how to quickly identify small details that could make the difference between life and death.
Dentistry is another important area of practice. Many people underestimate the importance of proper dental hygiene and the impact something as simple as an impacted tooth or gum disease can have on the entire body. A broken tooth with an infection can travel into the bloodstream and make a person’s blood toxic. While the average dentist’s regular days are focused mostly on cleanings, fixing cavities, putting in crowns, and preventive care, these more serious situations can lead to life-threatening problems when untreated by a dentist.
For some students, especially those interested in social justice, the idea of becoming a mobile dentist is appealing. With the ability to travel to underserved communities and populations, these dentists offer reduced-rate services and offer treatments that not only change lives but make a huge difference to those served.
3. Healthcare Administration
For students who aren’t in medical school or even those with an MD who is interested in administration and healthcare policy, one great medical career path is hospital or medical administration. A hospital administrator oversees all departments and is responsible for the overall functioning of any healthcare facility. For some medical graduates, the ability to set up programming like minimally invasive pain management education, substance abuse support groups, or new policies for comprehensive care is an exciting opportunity to make a big difference in the medical community.
4. General Practice
Key to most people’s general well-being, general practice practitioners are the doctors people see when they have a cold, strange symptom, neck pain, or for the treatment of ongoing conditions. The anchor to any patient’s medical care team, general practice doctors are highly valued in all communities.
Most doctors who choose to practice general medicine enjoy direct patient care. They are good at assessing problems, understand drug interactions, and generally keep bankers’ hours. Able to see many families from birth throughout all stages of life, these doctors often have close relationships with clients and are highly invested in them. They can serve as advocates and often find themselves doing a lot of listening.
Another practice area in the medical field that involves listening is psychiatry. Many people don’t understand that psychiatrists are actually medical doctors whose specialty area is psychiatric care. Like a doctor in any other practice area, psychiatrists can prescribe prescription medications to help with mood disorders, mental health issues, and anxiety.
Other med students interested in psychology are not medical doctors. While a psychologist could earn a doctorate in psychology and be called a doctor, they cannot prescribe medications because they haven’t been through medical school. If you’re interested in helping people but not drug interactions, one career path to consider could be a master’s in psychology or training as a marriage and family therapist. This could be the perfect solution to working in the field without the cost and time involved with a medical school.
The world needs medical professionals in all areas of practice. Whether you choose to go into dentistry and work to help people through gum disease and toward a healthy smile or as a surgeon in invasive but life-saving surgeries, you’ll play a major role in improving their quality of life. As a psychiatrist working to fight the opioid crisis or special interest nurse, your work will make a difference. Thank you for all your hard work as an essential worker during the Covid-19 pandemic if you’re already in the medical field.