The health care industry is growing by leaps and bounds. If you know that you want to enter this field while in high school there are ways to prepare yourself for your future. You will need a strong background in math, English and science to qualify for most training programs. Four years of math and science will strengthen your portfolio. Whether you want to become a surgeon, an occupational therapist, hospital administrator or a veterinary assistant you need to prepare in high school.
Two to four years of math are required and should include geometry and algebra II. Two to four years of science including biology, chemistry and physics are also recommended. Enroll in four years of English and one to two years of computer science as well. Try to get into advance placement (AP) classes if you can and earn the best grades you are capable of. Volunteer in health settings, enter high school science fairs to add to your portfolio and to make you stand out against the hundreds of students that will apply for a limited number of college spaces. There are many fields to choose from, here we will review a few of them to give you an idea of what these professions do.
The field of dentistry includes being a dentist, dental hygienist, dental assistant or laboratory technician. A dentist is trained and licensed to diagnose, treat and prevent disease, injury and malformations of the jaw, mouth and teeth. Most dentists are generalists but some specialize in endodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, radiology or pathology, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, prosthodontics and public health dentistry. A bachelor’s degree and four years of dental school is required and if you are a specialist add two more years of training.
Gerontology is a field where you can develop programs for the elderly, provide care to older people in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes or adult care programs, counsel older people and their families about care and personal planning. There are fields that don’t involve working with people directly but instead behind the scenes conducting research on Alzheimer’s and aging, teaching courses to universities, heath care professionals and older adults, designing products for the elderly and advising businesses on labor issues regarding older workers.
Health administration covers a large area of occupations, most popular is working in a hospital. A top administrator almost always has a masters degree. Mid-level management includes finance, personnel, public relations and patient relations. Long-term care administrators work with nursing homes that are now referred to as health care facilities, continuous care/retirement centers and health care/adult day care centers. Administrator with managed care organizations or HMO’s are complex positions and combine traditional insurance, acute care and preventative care programs. Clinic administrators manages a physician groups practice to coordinate their administrative needs. Public health administrators are needed for government organizations like the VA.
Massage therapist is a healing art and a science, it requires a balance of technical and academic knowledge, manual dexterity, awareness, sensitivity and clinical skills. The field is growing and requires 300 to 1,000 hours of in-class training. Massage therapists are regulated in 33 states and the District of Columbia in the United States. Massage therapists practice in private settings, for chiropractors, nursing homes, hospitals, in association with sports teams and medical facilities.
Music therapists assess the emotional well-being, social functioning, communication and cognitive skills and physical health through the response to music. The idea of utilizing music as a healing agent is as old as the writings of Plato and Aristotle. After World Wars I and II musicians went to VA hospitals to play for the veterans who were suffering from the effects of fighting in the wars and it became evident that there was a notable response to music. Hospitals began hiring musicians to come back and play for the patients and the demand grew. The first degree program was developed at Michigan State in 1944.
Nursing offers opportunities such as clinical specialist, nurse administrator, nurse practitioner and nurse educator. Nurses work in hospitals, VA centers, ambulatory care centers, independent practice and long-term as well as public care facilities. One can work all over the world as nurses are always in demand. Specialty nursing includes emergency nursing, cardiac surgery, newborn intensive care, trauma and psychiatric health. Specialties will require a master degree.