Analyzing Healthcare Careers
I have my mind set on becoming a pediatric physical therapist. My mind has been made up since I can remember. I want to follow in my mom’s footsteps and help children who have developmental delays or complications from birth or cerebral palsy every day of my career. But with the career of physical therapy becoming ever so popular and the competitiveness of graduate school increasing, it is in my best interest to evaluate other career options as well. A few healthcare careers that I have never thought about are nurse midwifery, nuclear medicine technology, and biomedical engineering.
I know very little about nursing, in particular nurse midwives. Although the title of nurse midwife sounds like it should be from the Renaissance period, delivering babies for a career sounds like an incredibly rewarding, but challenging, career. They have to deal with emergency situations during labor, like hemorrhaging, or deciding if the mother needs to undergo a cesarean birth (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015). They do have to deal with death in some cases, but the overwhelming joy after a baby is born would be worth dealing with the few miserable moments. My brain is very left-sided; I’m very logic-minded and truly enjoy problem solving, so this could be a very fulfilling career for me. Nurse midwives not only deliver babies, but provide general care to women and their families, including gynecological exams, prenatal care, care for sexual or reproductive health issues, overall wellness care, and family planning services (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015). Because of the increased demand for healthcare services, careers as a nurse midwife are expected to grow 25% from 2014 to 2024, which is much higher than the average expected job outlook for all jobs at 7% (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015). The average annual pay for nurse midwives in 2016 was $99,770 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nurse midwives can work in a wide variety of settings, including hospitals, private practice clinics, birth centers, or homes (“MS in Nurse-Midwifery.”).
In an article titled “A day in the life of a midwife” by India Ogazi, the midwife she is shadowing, Susan Nilsen, says, “It [delivery] never gets old. It never stops taking your breath away.” Nilsen has been a midwife for more than 22 years, and explains that “Midwife means ‘with woman’” and debunks the myth that midwives only deliver babies at home by the fact that “…95 percent of all certified nurse midwives deliver in a hospital.” (Ogazi 2014). The way Nilsen describes her career and her experiences, it sounds like a wonderfully rewarding, but challenging occupation, but one that I would love to pursue. To become a nurse midwife, you must earn a bachelor’s degree with a strong background in science, a master’s degree from an accredited program, and pass a national certification exam (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015). I am on my way to earning a Bachelor’s degree, but I am not a registered nurse, which is usually required before entering the graduate program. Many graduate programs, however, will accept students who have Bachelor Degrees but are not registered nurses and will provide an accelerated nursing education which typically take 3 years (“Become a Midwife.”). To become a doctor of physical therapy, graduate school is 3 years, as well, so I will be in school for another 3 years post-undergrad for either profession.
Another healthcare career that I have never thought about is a nuclear medicine technologist. I didn’t know this was an actual career, but these technologists operate equipment to create images of areas of a patient’s body and prepare radioactive drugs to be used in the imaging (“Nuclear Medicine Technologists” 2015). The radioactive drugs cause abnormal areas of the body to show up differently on scans and images (“Nuclear Medicine Technologists” 2015). This was an interesting career to find, because I am currently learning about these nuclear medicine techniques in my Cognitive Neuroscience class. The radioactive drugs give off radiation, so the technologists have to understand the chemicals’ half-lives, and perform necessary and correct calculations to ensure minimal damage to the patient and to ensure that the correct parts of the body receive the drug to appear on scans. Because these drugs are radioactive, they can cause damage to the body if administered incorrectly, which can be very dangerous for the patient and the technologist. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nuclear medicine technologists wear devices that measure radiation levels in the room, and they take precautions to minimize their exposure to radiation, such as wearing protective gloves and other shielding devices and keeping continuous detailed records of how much radiation they are exposed to (“Nuclear Medicine Technologists” 2015). This career seems a little dangerous and meticulous but very interesting nonetheless; you get to develop radioactive drugs and aid in the diagnosis of patients with unknown illnesses. The median annual wages for nuclear medicine technologists was $74,350 in May of 2016, with a range from $53,440 to $101,850; however, employment is only expected to grow 2% from 2014 to 2024 (“Nuclear Medicine Technologists” 2015). There is not a lot of education required as compared to other healthcare careers, like nursing, but it requires an associate’s or bachelor’s degree and a year-long certification program in nuclear medicine technology (“Nuclear Medicine Technologists” 2015). Although this is a different, interesting field, I don’t think this career would keep me fulfilled or happy for a long time, due to the repetitive nature of the work. Physical therapy and midwifery would keep me more on my toes, which I would want in a life-long career.
A third prospective career that is not entirely too common is biomedical engineering. With technology advancements and increasingly demanding health care needs, employment is expected to increase 23% from 2014 to 2024, which is much faster than the average outlook for all jobs (“Biomedical Engineers.” 2015). Biomedical engineers only need a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from an accredited program, and the average pay in the U.S. is $85,620 per year (“Biomedical Engineers.” 2015). In Maryland, where I am from, the annual mean wages are $95,580, which is even better (“Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2016.” 2017). To be a biomedical engineer, The College Board says one should really care about helping others and be a creative thinker and problem solver (“Career: Biomedical Engineers.” 2017). I truly want to help others in my career, and I really enjoy problem solving, but I am not sure that I would be happy working in a lab setting my entire life. But this field is very intriguing; the College Board says that biomedical engineers are working on growing artificial organs for transplants and have developed a robotic arm that can perform surgeries controlled by a surgeon using a remote control (“Career: Biomedical Engineers.” 2017). Biomedical engineering seems like a lot of research and evaluating current techniques and technology and developing improved ones, but I think I would enjoy a career more in which I actually get to interact with the patients every day and help them more directly.
After analyzing these three careers, and having my mind set on physical therapy, I think being a nurse midwife would definitely be a fun, exciting, and challenging career. I would love the excitement and joy that comes from delivering babies and being involved in all aspects of childbirth, because I think that is a beautiful thing, and I love to help people and children. Being a nuclear medicine technologist or a biomedical engineer both require many hours a day in a lab; and as a very active person who gets bored very easily, I don’t think I would be happy there day in and day out. I like to interact with people and help them as much as possible. And while these two careers are helping people, by helping diagnose what is causing them pain and discomfort or by creating new devices or technology to help them overcome their pain, I would prefer a career in which I actually get to experience the patients and helping them. Nurse midwifery and pediatric physical therapy would allow me to do this and have a truly gratifying and rewarding career of helping children and their families. If for some reason physical therapy doesn’t work out, my next choice would be nurse midwifery.
“Become a Midwife.” Become a Midwife | American College of Nurse-Midwives, American
College of Nurse-Midwives, www.midwife.org/Become-a-Midwife. Accessed 29 Sept. 2017.
“Biomedical Engineers.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 17
Dec. 2015, www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/biomedical-engineers.htm. Accessed 29 Sept. 2017.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-
17 Edition, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners, 17 Dec. 2015, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm. Accessed 29 Sept. 2017.
“Career: Biomedical Engineers.” Become a Biomedical Engineer – Careers – The College Board,
The College Board, 2017, bigfuture.collegeboard.org/careers/architecture-engineeringand-drafting-biomedical-engineers. Accessed 29 Sept. 2017.
“MS in Nurse-Midwifery.” University of Cincinnati, University of Cincinnati,
online.uc.edu/programs/graduate/nurse-midwifery.html. Accessed 29 Sept. 2017.
“Nuclear Medicine Technologists.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
17 Dec. 2015, www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nuclear-medicine-technologists.htm. Accessed 29 Sept. 2017.
“Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2016.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, 31 Mar. 2017, www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes172031.htm#st. Accessed 29 Sept. 2017.
Ogazi, India. “A day in the life of a midwife.” UTMB Health, The University of Texas Medical
Branch, The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, 6 Oct. 2014, www.utmb.edu/impact/home/2014/10/06/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-midwife. Accessed 29 Sept. 2017.