Explore more than 100 health and medical careers that need men and women to join their ranks all the time—from aides and counselors to technicians and therapists. The NIH Office of Science Education has a Web site that lists and describes many of them, and includes information about the education required, median salaries, and personal stories. There are also videos of men and women who explain why they chose a particular health-related career, what they do, and why they like it.
Here is a small sampling of their stories. Find much more at science.education.nih.gov/LifeWorks
Emergency Medical Technician
“I chose to become an emergency medical technician because of a great volunteer experience. When I was 16, I volunteered at the local fire department along with three of my best friends from high school. Early on, I took the necessary classes and became certified in cardiovascular pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and advanced first aid. I continued working there while I finished high school. Many times I would go to the firehouse after school on Friday and stay there most of the weekend through Sunday. We had a lot of fun.
“After high school, I began to take emergency medical services courses at the University of Maryland. In a few years, I completed 144 classroom hours and 20 hours of clinical training through the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute (MFRI) program at College Park, Maryland. They are one of the largest fire and rescue training groups on the East Coast. After completing the training, I sat for and passed the state certification test. It is necessary to recertify every three years, by taking a refresher course and another test.”
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologist
“I chose to become a Medical Technologist because I always knew I wanted a career in health care. My parents were both teachers, and education was always a priority in our house. They encouraged my brother and me to pursue higher education and consider careers in top fields, such as engineering, law, and medicine. During high school, I started to look for possibilities in the healthcare system. I discovered the Post Bachelor program for Medical Technology (MT) at the University of Puerto Rico. I liked the curriculum; it was a short but intense program that would allow me to have a professional career in a few years. It was also very competitive to get into the program. In order to meet the prerequisite courses necessary to apply, I worked toward a degree in biology. Because my father wanted to make sure I had an alternative career in case the MT program did not work out, I decided to minor in education, to teach science as an alternative. After completing my biology degree, the MT applications, and interviews, I was accepted into the program. I’ll never forget the first time I put on a lab coat while in the MT program. I knew then that I was on my way to a very exciting career.”
“I chose to become a fitness instructor because I’ve always liked physical activity and sports. I started exercising and working out in the gym when I was 12 years old. My older brother was my inspiration, and he taught me a lot about fitness and sports. Ever since then, I’ve had a passion for fitness. You only have one body, and it is great to build it up and set and achieve goals for yourself.”
Angi M. Christensen
FBI Forensic Scientist
“I chose to become a forensic scientist because it is an interesting and challenging field that allows me to combine my passion for anthropology, love of puzzles, and compassion to help others. I was interested in science from a very young age. My parents and teachers nurtured this interest, and I never lost it. As a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut or an archaeologist. My favorite subjects in school were always science, sociology, and math. My interest in science was so well known that in high school, I was voted most likely to become a scientist.
“What I like best about my work is that almost every day is different and rewarding. Every case is unique and presents new challenges, which keeps me thinking and stimulated. The idea that everything I do is helping to solve a crime and/or provide closure for loved ones is very rewarding.”
“I chose to become a dental assistant after entering the Navy and undergoing testing to identify my skills and abilities and determine where they might best be applied.
From College to Work to Navy
“After graduating from high school, I started college at Pennsylvania State University. After a few months, I decided that college didn’t suit me, and I returned home. I found a job in a battery plant, and later worked as a material handler for a direct mail company. After three years, I realized that I wanted better career opportunities. With the encouragement of my brother (who was in the Navy and worked as a cook in the White House), I joined the Navy.
“I went through military boot camp in Chicago. Then I was sent to the Naval School of Health Sciences at Shepherd Air Force Base in Texas, where I trained as a dental assistant for four months. After training, the Navy sent me to Naples, Italy, for two years to give dental care to the military in that area. While taking care of the military personnel, I became fluent in Italian and proficient as an Italian cook. On my return to the U.S., I was assigned to the White House and had the privilege of providing dental care to the First Family.
To Find Out More
- NIH Office of Science Education
- LifeWorks alphabetical listing of health and medical careers
- LifeWorks E-mentoring: Where students e-connect with health professionals
- Career Finder, NIH Office of Science Education