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Careers

Dentistry (D.D.S., D.M.D.)

Dentists are highly skilled health professionals who provide a wide range of oral health care that includes the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of problems associated with the hard and soft tissues of the mouth. They examine the teeth, mouth, and associated tissues, diagnose and treat diseases, restore defective teeth and tissue, and replace missing teeth.

Eighty percent of practicing dentists are engaged in general practice. The remainder specialize in one of nine areas, including orthodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, endodontic, periodontics, pediatric dentistry, prosthodontics, oral and maxillofacial pathology, dental public health, and oral and maxillofacial radiology.

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Health Administration (M.H.A.)

Health care is a business and, like every other business, it needs good management to keep it running smoothly. The term, "medical and health services manager," applies to those professionals who plan, direct, coordinate and supervise the delivery of health care.

The health care industry is a dynamic field, and the health care management profession includes individuals with specialized education in the traditional management disciplines taught in a health care context, combined with coursework in policy and public health either at the undergraduate and/or graduate level.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the field of health care management is expected to grow 22 percent from 2010-2020. The healthcare industry will continue to expand and diversify, requiring managers to help ensure smooth business operations.

Today, an estimated 300,000 people serve in health administration, from middle management to CEO positions at organizations that range in size from one or two staff members to major international companies employing hundreds of thousands of employees.

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The Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA) provides information on health administration/management programs and a program directory.

The Health Administration, Management and Policy Centralized Application Service (HAMPCAS) is an online application service for students applying to a program granting a degree in health administration/management.

The American College of Healthcare Executives offers a career development center for graduates.

Medicine (Allopathic, Osteopathic and Podiatric)

Allopathic and osteopathic medicine all include diagnosis of disease and other medical problems and all provide for treatment through surgery and the prescription of medications. While individual modes of diagnosis and treatment may be similar, there are also distinct differences outlined below (Preparation for all both includes the MCAT).

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Allopathic Medicine (M.D.)

Allopathic medicine is based on the concept that the biology of diseases can be understood by reducing the body to its parts, organs, tissues, and systems. Medications and treatments are developed and prescribed based on biomedical research and systematic clinical trials.

The allopathic physician's responsibilities cover a wide range of functions in the maintenance of health and the treatment of disease, including both acute and chronic care and preventive approaches involving substantial patient education. These include diagnosing disease, supervising the care of patients, prescribing medications and other treatments, and participating in the delivery of health care. Although most physicians provide direct patient care, some concentrate on basic or applied research, become teachers and/or administrators, or combine various elements of these activities.

Physicians work in one or more specialties, including anesthesiology, family and general medicine, general internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, surgery.

For more information on pursuing an M.D. degree, see:

Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)

Osteopathic physicians diagnose illness and injury, prescribe and administer treatment, and advise patients about how to prevent and manage disease. A major distinction between the M.D. and the D.O is that the D.O. has a strongly holistic philosophy and practices osteopathic manipulative medicine, a distinctive system of hands-on diagnosis and treatment which focuses specifically on the musculoskeletal system.

Approximately 50% of the 54,000 osteopathic physicians in the United State practice general or family medicine, general internal medicine, or general pediatrics. The rest specialize in a wide range of practice areas, including emergency medicine, anesthesiology, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, and surgery. Like M.D.s, osteopathic physicians are fully licensed to diagnose, treat, prescribe, and perform surgery in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

For more information on pursuing a D.O. degree, see:

Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M.)

Podiatric medicine is devoted to the study of human movement, with the medical care of the foot and ankle as its primary focus. A doctor of podiatric medicine has undergone lengthy, thorough study to become uniquely well-qualified to treat this specific part of the body. Many practitioners can focus on a particular area of podiatric medicine. These options can include surgery, sports medicine, biomechanics, geriatrics, pediatrics, orthopedics, and primary care. The skills of podiatric physicians are in increasing demand because disorders of the foot and ankle are among the most widespread and neglected health problems.

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Nursing (B.S.N., M.S.N., D.N.P.)

Nurses promote health, prevent disease, and help patients cope with illness. They have a unique scope of practice and can act independently, although nurses also collaborate with all members of the healthcare team to provide the care needed by each patient. Nurses also serve as advocates for patients, families, and communities. They develop and manage nursing care plans, instruct patients and their families in patient care, and help individuals and groups take steps to improve or maintain their health. Nursing includes many specialty options, each with its own training/certification requirements and related professional network or organization.

Many community and junior colleges still offer an Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN), but there is a growing national movement to require all nurses to hold at least a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing (BSN). Thus, the length of educational training beyond high school is generally 2 to 4 years with advanced degrees an option. The Registered Nurse (RN) license is the basic credential in the nursing field. However, nursing ranges from entry-level practitioner to doctoral-level researcher.

Other options for nursing are accelerated bachelor degree and entry level master's programs both open to students with an undergraduate degree in a field other than nursing. The accelerated BSN can usually be completed in less than 2 years and has specific prerequisites. Entry level Master's degree programs vary in length and require specific undergraduate course work. Information about these program options can also be found on the California Board of Registered Nursing website.

For more information on pursuing a nursing degree, see

Nutrition (M.S./R.D.)

Scientific studies are proving that the food we eat has a significant impact on our health. Changes in diet can help prevent or control many health problems, including obesity, diabetes and certain risk factors for cancer and heart disease.

Dietetics is the health field that focuses on the interaction between nutrition and health. Dietitians and dietetic technicians design "nutrition therapies" that help the body use the natural nutrients and properties in food to protect against disease and promote health.

The field of dietetics has a strong emphasis on public health and a commitment to educating all Americans about the importance of making proper dietary choices. Dietitians who work in facilities preparing food strive to develop menus and recipes that are healthful, tasty and cost-effective.

Professionals in the field of dietetics often focus their efforts on specific populations, facilities or initiatives, including:

  • Designing individual nutritional therapies to address specific health issues, such as unhealthy weight, diabetes or hypertension
  • Developing facility-wide nutrition programs for health care, educational, correctional and other institutions
  • Increasing public awareness of proper nutritional standards and habits
  • Improving the accuracy and comprehension of food labels
  • Ensuring the safety of our food supply
  • Researching how changes in diet (such as reducing salt intake) affect health (by reducing blood pressure)
  • Working with food manufacturers to improve the nutritional quality of prepared foods

Growing public interest in "taking control" of one's health is likely to improve employment prospects for dietetics professionals who can design healthy eating programs. The growing and aging population will also increase demand for accurate nutrition information and plans.

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Occupational Therapy (O.T.)

Occupational therapists (OTs) assist clients in performing activities of all types, ranging from using a computer to caring for daily needs such as dressing, cooking, eating, and driving. Services typically include: customized treatment programs to improve one's ability to perform daily activities; comprehensive home and job site evaluations with adaptation recommendations; adaptive equipment recommendations and usage training; and guidance to family members and caregivers.

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Optometry (O.D.)

Optometry is a comprehensive healthcare field for eyes and vision, including examination, diagnosis, and treatment of the eyes and surrounding structures, and the treatment of vision problems. Optometrists (O.D.s) work with ophthalmologists (M.D.s or D.O.s) who are physicians specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases and defects and who perform surgery. Optometrists also work with opticians who fit, supply, and adjust eyewear according to prescriptions written by optometrists for ophthalmologists. More than 75% of practicing optometrists are in solo practice.

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Pharmacy (Pharm.D.)

Pharmacy is a doctoral level health profession in which licensed professionals provide information about medication to consumers and other health care professionals. Pharmacists dispense drugs prescribed by physicians and other health practitioners and monitor patient health. They advise physicians and other health practitioners on the selection, dosages, interactions, and side effects of medications. Pharmacists must understand the use; clinical effects; and composition of drugs, including their chemical, biological, and physical properties. They protect the public by ensuring drug purity and strength. The goal of pharmacy care is to maximize positive health care outcomes and improve patients' quality of life with minimum risk. Most pharmacists work in a community setting, such as a retail drug store, or in a hospital or clinic.

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Physician Assistant (P.A.)

Physician assistants (PAs) provide healthcare services under the supervision of physicians. PAs should not be confused with medical assistants, who perform routine clinical and clerical tasks. PAs are formally trained to provide diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive healthcare services, as delegated by a physician. Working as members of the healthcare team, they take medical histories, examine and treat patients, order and interpret laboratory tests and X-rays, make diagnoses, and prescribe medications. They also treat minor injuries by suturing, splinting, and casting. PAs record progress notes, instruct and counsel patients, and order or carry out therapy.

Although physician assistants work under the supervision of a physician, PAs may be the principal care providers in rural or inner city clinics, where a physician is present for only 1 or 2 days each week. In such cases, the PA confers with the supervising physician and other medical professionals as needed or as required by law. PAs also may make house calls or go to hospitals and nursing homes to check on patients and report back to the physician. In 47 States and the District of Columbia, PAs may prescribe medications.

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Physical Therapy (D.P.T.)

Physical therapists (PTs) are experts in movement and function of the body. Physical therapy uses physical methods (e.g., manipulation, traction, exercise, massage, hot/cold therapy, etc.) to assess, diagnose, and treat injury, disability or disease. PTs work closely with patients of all ages to help them recover from and/or manage a wide variety of physical challenges and to help restore function, improve mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities of patients with injuries or disease. PTs work closely with patients to restore, maintain, and promote their overall fitness and health.

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Public Health (M.P.H., Dr.PH., PhD)

Public Health is a diverse and dynamic field that focuses on the health and well being of populations. While medicine is concerned with individuals as patients, public health views the community as its patient. Public Health functions to prevent epidemics and the spread of disease, protect against environmental hazards, prevent injuries, promote and encourage health behaviors, respond to disasters and assist communities to recover, and assure the quality and accessibility of health services. There is a wide range of specialties in Public Health, including

  • Health services administration
  • Biostatistics
  • Epidemiology
  • Health education/Behavioral science
  • Environmental health
  • Nutrition
  • Public health practice/Program management
  • Biomedical laboratory
  • Global/International Health
  • Maternal and child health

Public health professionals work in both public and private sectors in such diverse positions as community health educators, researchers, and policy analysts.

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Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.)

In addition to caring for pets and sports animals, veterinarians have traditionally maintained healthy and productive commercial food animals and livestock, secured the public health of humans and commercial animals, and treated illness and disease in livestock. Today, however, the breadth of veterinary medicine encompasses much more. While the majority of veterinarians (75%) are still in private small, large or mixed animal clinical practice, county, state, and federal governments, universities, private industry, zoos, the U.S. military, wildlife organizations, racetracks, and circuses are also some of the diverse settings that employ veterinarians.

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All information for this section was taken from Explore Health Careers and O*net online.

Public/Business Administration (M.P.A./M.B.A.)

Health care is a business and, like every other business, it needs good management to keep it running smoothly. The term, "medical and health services manager," applies to those professionals who plan, direct, coordinate and supervise the delivery of health care.

The health care industry is a dynamic field, and the health care management profession includes individuals with specialized education in the traditional management disciplines taught in a health care context, combined with coursework in policy and public health either at the undergraduate and/or graduate level.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the field of health care management is expected to grow 22 percent from 2010-2020. The healthcare industry will continue to expand and diversify, requiring managers to help ensure smooth business operations.

Today, an estimated 300,000 people serve in health administration, from middle management to CEO positions at organizations that range in size from one or two staff members to major international companies employing hundreds of thousands of employees.

For more information: