Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Health Professions Careers That Don't Require a M.D.

What do you want to be when you grow up? Who hasn't fielded that question as a child - and depending on the types of careers you were exposed to at a young age, odds were fairly limited - doctor, teacher, lawyer, etc. It's not until later in life that we realize that there are much wider career options beyond these traditional "big three", and that within these categories, there are even more choices to be made - what kind of teacher would like to become? What sort of law do you want to practice? Should I become a M.D. or a nurse practicioner?

I know, you're thinking that you haven't actually asked yourself this question before - but according to a recent article in the New York Times, nurse practioners and physician assistant positions are growing in popularity. Why? Because, as the article points out, "In an aging population, a shortage of doctors has created new demand for care providers like physician assistants and nurse practitioners..." And for students who would like to pursue a career in health or medicine, but aren't sure about the time and money that are required to pursue a M.D., these positions offer similar benefits, with fewer drawbacks. One of the physician assistants interviewed for the article addressed this dilemma, saying, “I wanted to treat patients, but I wanted free time for myself, too...I didn’t want to be 30 or 35 before I got on my feet — and then still have a lot of loans to pay back.”

Of course, there are siginificant differences between the role of licensed doctor and that of a nurse practioner or physician assistant, which the article is quick to point out: "Physician assistants must practice under a physician’s supervision. Nurse practitioners are licensed as independent health care providers, without mandated physician supervision, although some states require them to have a supervising or collaborating physician to whom they can turn for advice. Some nurse practitioners have private practices." In addition, there are differences in licensing which are detailed in the article as well.

Besides nurse practioners and physician assistants, the career paths for students interested in health professions are expansive - public health, allopathic and osteopathic medicine, dentistry, health policy, veterinary medicine, and health services research, among others, are all career paths that are available - and that is where Chicago Careers in Health Professions (CCIHP) comes into play.

The Chicago Careers in Health Professions (CCIHP) Program is a joint collaboration between CAPS and the College, that offers resources to students interested in the wide range of health professions careers and health professions graduate programs (including medical school) that are out there. The program provides students with the resources and support to develop a customized portfolio of knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to pursue a variety of careers in health and medicine. From career exploration to application development, CCIHP seeks to build upon students’ strengths, recommending course work, facilitating internships, and collaborating with other resources on campus.

For more information about CCIHP, contact J. Violet Gannon, CCIHP Program Director at jvgannon@uchicago.edu.

Comments, suggestions or questions about careers in the health professions? Post them here.

1 comment:

CharleStephen said...

This has really nothing to do with this post in particular, but it is more a general comment: CAPS should REALLY start to use the iCalendar standard for outputting calendars. It is compatible with all of the major calendaring platforms (iCal, Thunderbird, Outlook, and Google Calendar) and would allow for people to subscribe to a particular calendar. That is, CAPS could have a consulting calendar, a financial services calendar, etc that, whenever an event were added, it would show up on one's calendar – whether in their mobile device, computer, or online interface. This would be really helpful and I think much appreciated.