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There are many reasons why a career in medicine is a popular choice. First, working in the medical field gives you the opportunity to help others. Many in the healthcare industry are passionate about their jobs. They feel a sense of fulfillment and responsibility. They find joy in helping others.

The healthcare industry also offers the potential for a financially rewarding career as well. Due to their relatively quick pay-off rate compared to other careers, healthcare careers can make a good return on investment.

Not only can a career in healthcare make good financial sense, it can also ensure better job stability than other industries. Healthcare is something that everyone needs and counts on at some point in life. These careers are always in high demand. They are expected to continue to grow in demand as an increasing number of baby boomers enter retirement age.

Finally, certain jobs in the healthcare industry can be achieved in a short amount of time compared to other career paths. Here are a few of those careers in medicine that require only a little bit of college and have a great return on your education investment.

Medical Lab Technician

If you want a career in the healthcare industry but you would rather not work with patients directly, a job as a medical lab technician may be right for you. Medical lab techs collect and test samples of fluids and tissues.

Other duties may include the following:

  • Sanitizing laboratories
  • Preparing test specimens
  • Analyzing fluid content
  • Matching blood capability for transfusions
  • Entering data into patient records
  • Discussing results with doctors

As a medical lab technician, you are required to use complex equipment, such as microscopes, cell counters, and automated analyzers. You’ll also work closely with doctors and other medical professionals daily.

Education Requirements to Become a Medical Lab Technician

A career as a medical lab technician requires a Diploma or an associate degree from an accredited college. You can earn a Diploma in as little as 18 months at Vista College.

Medical Lab Technician training may include the following coursework:

  • Medical terminology
  • Anatomy
  • Serology
  • Physiology
  • Hands-on laboratory work
  • Externship

Why Invest in a Medical Lab Technician Career?

The job outlook for medical lab technicians is excellent. It is projected to grow 30 percent through 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As of May 2013, the median lab technician salary was $37,970, and most lab technicians are employed full time.

The estimated tuition and fees to complete a program and earn an AAS in Medical Laboratory Technician degree is about $40,000. Assuming 10 percent of your income goes toward repaying your student loan, your payback time is about 10.5 years.

Patient Care Technician

If you enjoy helping others, then a career as a patient care technician (PCT) might be right for you. You’ll work under the direction of doctors and nurses assisting with patients in a variety of ways, including:

  • Tending to injured or ill patients
  • Taking vital signs
  • Collecting specimens for testing
  • Performing catheterizations
  • Assisting patients with daily needs, such as eating and personal hygiene

Patient care technicians work in hospitals, rehabilitation clinics, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities.

Education Requirements for a Patient Care Technician

You can be ready to start your career as a patient care technician in about one year. Coursework necessary to complete a patient care technician program may include the following:

  • Medical terminology
  • Anatomy
  • Emergency Care Procedures
  • Time Management
  • Specimen Collection
  • Externship

You’ll interact daily with physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals.

Why Invest in a Patient Care Technician Career?

The job outlook for patient care technicians is good. It is expected to grow 21 percent through 2022, according to the BLS. The median PCT salary is $24,890 annually.

The estimated cost of tuition for a Patient Care Technician Diploma is $21,025. Assuming 10 percent of your annual salary goes toward student loan repayment, you can expect to payback your loan in 8.5 years.

Licensed Practical Nurse/Vocational Nurse

A career as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) allows you the freedom to help others in a range of medical environments. You can apply for work in a variety of healthcare facilities, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Medical offices
  • Schools
  • Nursing homes
  • Home care
  • Urgent care clinics
  • Rehabilitation facilities

As an LPN, your duties will vary by your work environment, but they can include the following:

  • Taking vital signs
  • Changing wound dressings
  • Collecting blood, urine and other specimens
  • Administering oral and intravenous medications
  • Assuring patient safety and injury prevention

You’ll work closely with other medical professionals including doctors, nurses, therapists, dieticians, nursing assistants, and other healthcare professionals.

Education Requirements for an LPN

Studying to become an LPN includes classroom work and hands-on, real-world instruction. The combination will prepare you to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Vocational/Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) and obtain your nursing license.

Other coursework includes the following:

  • Nursing skills
  • Health Science
  • Child Health Nursing
  • Pharmacology
  • Professional Development

Why Invest in a Career as an LPN?

The job outlook for LPNs is excellent. Employment in this field is expected to grow 25 percent through 2022, according to the BLS. As of May 2013, the average annual salary for LPNs is $41,920 and most LPNs work full time.

The cost of an LPN education is around $25,795 for tuition and fees. Assuming that 10 percent of your yearly income goes to repaying your student loan, your payback time can be as little as 6 months.

Medical Assisting

Medical assistants work together with doctors in clinics and physician offices. If you enjoy a challenging yet reward career, medical assistant training may be for you. This fast-paced job involves both clinical and clerical duties. These can include:

  • Collecting and reporting patient history and personal information
  • Taking vital signs
  • Assisting physicians with patient exams
  • Giving patients injections as directed by a doctor
  • Preparing blood for lab testing
  • Scheduling patient visits
  • Answering phones
  • Updating patient files
  • Arranging for laboratory services and hospital admissions

Education Requirements to Become a Medical Assistant

Preparing for your career as a medical assistant can take one to two years, depending on whether you go for a Diploma or associate degree. Diploma programs take one year to complete while associate degree programs take about two years.

You can start your education by enrolling in the Diploma program. Then, you can further your career later by pursuing an Associates of Applied Science Degree in Medical Assisting.

Coursework for the medical assistant program may include the following:

  • Medical terminology
  • Administrative Procedures
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Procedures
  • Medical Office Management
  • Billing and Medical Coding
  • Office Administration

Why Invest in a Medical Assisting Career?

The job outlook for medical assistants is excellent. The need for medical assistants is projected to grow 29 percent through 2022, according to the BLS. As of May 2013, the average annual wage for medical assistants is $29,610, and most medical assistants work full time.

The estimated cost to obtain a Medical Assisting Diploma is $23,525. Assuming 10 percent of your annual salary goes toward repaying your students loan, your payback time is less than one year.

Dental Assistant

If you have a knack for making others feel comfortable, dental assisting might be right for you. Dental assistants not only help patients feel more at ease in the dental chair, but they also assist the dentist in an office setting.

You can be ready to begin your career as a dental assistant in about one year with a dental assistant Diploma. If you choose, you can continue your education to earn an associate degree in dental assisting in about two years.

Some common duties of dental assistant Diploma holders include the following:

  • Sterilizing dental equipment
  • Keeping patient records up to date
  • Assisting the dentist, while keeping patients comfortable
  • Laying out dental instruments

With a two-year degree, you’ll have more responsibilities. Your job duties may include:

  • Applying fluoride
  • Polishing crowns
  • Taking and processing x-rays
  • Advising patients on proper dental hygiene

Education Requirements for a Dental Assistant

Dental Assisting Diplomas and degrees are offered at most community colleges. The coursework can include the following courses for Diploma and degree seekers:

  • Dental Sciences
  • Dental Materials
  • Dental Office Management
  • Dental Procedures and Infection Control
  • Dental Radiography

You’ll also participate in hands-on training to help you perfect the skills you’ve learned.

Why Invest in a Dental Assistant Career?

The need for dental assistants is expected to grow 25 percent through 2012, according to the BLS. As of May 2013, the annual salary for dental assistants is $34,900, and most dental assistants work full time.

The estimated cost to obtain a dental assistant Diploma is $21,725. Assuming 10 percent of your annual salary goes toward loan repayment, your payback time can be as little as six months.

Medical Insurance Billing and Coding

A Diploma or Associate of Applied Science Degree in Medical Insurance Billing and Coding allows you to work in the growing healthcare industry without working directly with patients. You will still be in a medical office setting.

Medical insurance billing and coding (MIBC) graduates can work in a variety of facilities. These include:

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Doctor’s Offices
  • Health Insurance Companies
  • Urgent Care Facilities

As an entry-level MIBC specialist, your duties can vary by work setting, but they may include:

  • Organizing, analyzing, and evaluating heath insurance claims
  • Properly coding diseases, therapies, procedures, and surgeries to ensure correct billing
  • Performing other administrative tasks

MIBC Education Requirements

Excellent communication and clerical skills are necessary for a MIBC position. You are required to take English Composition, Mathematics, Psychology, and Computer Science along with other coursework, such as:

  • Medical Terminology
  • Medical Office Procedures
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Introduction to Medical Insurance
  • Introduction to Diagnostic Coding
  • Health Information Technology
  • Introduction to ICD-10

You can begin training for a career in medical insurance billing and coding by completing coursework for a Diploma in as little as one year. After completion, you can continue your education and work toward an Associate of Applied Science in Medical Insurance Billing and Coding.

Why Invest in a MIBC Career?

Career opportunities in the Medical Records and Health Information industry are projected to grow 22 percent through 2012, according to the BLS. As of May 2013, the average annual health information technology salary is $34,970, and most MIBC specialists work full time.

The estimated cost to obtain an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Medical Insurance Billing and Coding is about $35,000. Assuming 10 percent of your annual salary goes toward student loan repayment, your payback time can be as little as 10 months.

Taking the Next Steps

Making life changes or starting a new chapter can be scary, but don’t let that stand in your way of seeking out new learning opportunities. You must be well-trained to compete in today’s marketplace. This means taking advantage of hands-on learning from instructors who are professionals in their fields. But this doesn’t have to mean going to a four-year college. You can complete many Diploma programs in less than one year and associate degree programs in two years.

If you are considering investing in a new career you can start by discussing Diploma and degree options with an Admissions Representative. He or she can help you through the admission process and answer any questions you may have.

While your payback time for many medical careers is shorter than with most careers, you may be able to qualify for grants and other forms of financial aid to assist in you paying for college. This can help reduce the amount you owe after graduation. A financial aid officer can help those who qualify apply for financial aid, such as grants and scholarships.

Vista College offers you a variety of opportunities to train for a new career in the fast-growing healthcare industry. Vista College offers a number of benefits, including:

  • Enrollment opportunities available every five weeks
  • Accelerated learning opportunities — graduate in less time
  • Lifetime career service assistance for graduates
  • Low instructor-to-student ratio for more personalized teaching
  • Experienced instructors
  • Convenient class schedules — day and night classes available
  • On-campus and online classes available

Whether you plan to get a Diploma or an associate degree, you have several medical career training options.

If your passion is helping others, you have excellent communication skills, and you love working as part of a team, then a career in the medical field may be right for you. Whether you are working behind the scenes or directly with physicians and patients, the healthcare industry offers many career opportunities.

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