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Health & Medical Sciences

Much has been made of the boom in health and medical science careers. The field will produce more jobs than any other industry. In fact, seven of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' "Twenty Fastest Growing Jobs" are health care-related. The bureau anticipates 3 million new jobs during the 2006-2016 decade. Some of the fastest-growing professions within the health and medical sciences fields include physician assistants, medical assistants, physical therapists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, and home care aides.

Health and medical career positions can be found at more than 580,000 establishments including hospitals, physicians' and dentists' offices, outpatient care centers, private and government-funded clinics, medical and diagnostic laboratories, psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals and treatment centers, nursing care facilities, extended care centers for the elderly, and residential mental health facilities. Hospitals are the single-largest employer of all workers; however they only comprise 1 percent of all health care establishments.

Career Training in the Health and Medical Professions

An online degree in health and medical sciences offers a solid introduction to the health and medical field. For some, the health programs offers a foundation for continuing professional medical training; for others, it leads directly to an entry-level position in the health care industry.

The health and medical sciences curriculum begins with a broad undergraduate education in liberal arts and sciences before turning to a particular field of study. Students can specialize in fields such as alternative medicine, clinical laboratory science, dental hygiene, health information technology, health care administration, pharmacy, radiological science, respiratory therapy, nursing, nutrition, and much more.

Professional occupations, including registered nurses, physical therapists, physicians, dentists, and surgeons, traditionally require candidates to complete at least a bachelor's degree and post-graduate training. However, registered nurses can enter their careers following a two-year degree program.

Many service occupations, entailing only an associate's degree for qualification, can provide jobs for individuals who want to survey the field before undertaking additional college training in a specialty. For example, two out of three jobs in residential and nursing care facilities will be for home health aides and nursing assistants.

There will also be many support positions in the industry for office staff, administrators, medical billing transcriptionists and coding professionals, dental assistants, physical therapy aides, medical and laboratory technicians, and pharmacy techs.

Health and Medical Sciences Salaries

Health and medical science graduates are already experiencing the effects of an extremely favorable job market. For example, nurses receive hiring-on bonuses and attractive benefits packages. Students can head directly into the workplace upon graduation, where salaries begin in the $30,000 range, with advancement to $55,000 or more after work experience.

Or they can enter into graduate and professional programs, increasing their earning potential even more. Medical and health service managers (who typically have master's degrees) earned a 2007 median annual wage of $76,990, with the top 10 percent drawing down $132,580. While no education program can guarantee future salary or employment, health and medical science graduates can expect plentiful job opportunities and rising salaries, as medical facilities compete to attract qualified personnel.

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