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                           Skilled Medical Care 

In this section you will find career information for the following careers:


Registered Nurse                                               Physician Assistant (PA)

Licensed Practical Nurse or                               Psychologist

                Licensed Vocational Nurse                 Dental Hygienist 

Dietician and Nutritionist                                     Nurse Midwife

Mental Health Counselor                                    

Health Educator and Community Health Worker



Registered Nurse

   Have you ever considered a career as a nurse?

Did you know there are many different nursing

specialties? If you like the idea of caring for people

and think you might be interested in a medical career,

consider nursing!

What They Do: Nurses do many kinds of tasks for

patient care. They take patient histories, give medicine, and record patient temperatures, blood pressures, and other data on medical charts. Nurses work with other health professionals such as doctors, lab workers, physical therapists and with families about important patient care.

   Nurses can specialize in different medical interests, such as surgical nurses, cardiac (heart) nurses, and critical care nurses. Most specialties require more training, certification and licensing.


Education/Training: Registered nurses have 4-year college degrees and are licensed in the state in which they work. Their college training also includes supervised hospital work and classes. Advanced degrees in nursing are available and may be required for some positions.


Nurses must be compassionate and have excellent critical thinking skills.


Salary: The average salary for registered nurses is $71,730 per year, but wages vary depending on place of employment. Nurses working for the government earn about $78,390 per year while nurses working in educational settings earn about $61,850 per year.



Licensed Practical Nurse or Licensed Vocational Nurse

  Do you think you would like taking care of patients? Licensed practical nurses and vocational nurses provide essential care to sick or injured people. Read on to find out more about this rewarding career!

What They Do: Licensed practical nurses (LPN) and

vocational nurses (LVN) care for patients in many

ways. They provide basic bedside care, measure

patients’ heights, weights, temperatures and blood

pressures, change bandages, help patients bathe or

dress, and keep patients’ medical records up-to-date.


   They may also collect samples for testing, feed patients who need help, and care for infants. States decide what kind of duties licensed practical nurses can perform and also decide what duties have to be directly supervised by a registered nurse.


Education/Training: LPNs and LVNs must complete a one-year nursing program that includes both classroom study and supervised hospital experience. Most training programs are offered in technical and vocational schools and at community colleges. A high school diploma or equivalent is usually required for entering the program, but some programs are part of a high school curriculum.


   After completing the program, LPNs and LVNs take an exam to be licensed for work.


Salary: The average wage for LPNs and LVNs is $46,240 per year. Wages vary depending on place of employment. LPNLVNs who work for the government earn $48,050 per year while LPN/LVNs who work in doctors’ offices earn $42, 520 per year.


Physician Assistant (PA) 


Do you like the idea of caring for patients, but

don’t want to spend years in school to be a doctor?


Read about what physician assistants do. 

Maybe this is the career for you!


What They Do: Physician assistants (PA) practice

medical care under the supervision of a medical

doctor. PAs diagnose health problems, take medical histories, examine patients, order and review lab tests and x-rays and treat patient health problems. PAs can stitch wounds and apply casts to broken bones.


   PAs may be the primary health provider in small, rural communities or in nursing homes. Physician assistants report back to doctors with patient updates and treatment plans.

Education/Training: Physician assistants need a 4-year college degree and at least 2 more years of additional training. They study human body systems, diagnosis procedures, prescribe medications, and have clinical training with patients.

PAs must pass a national exam to be certified and licensed after graduation from a PA program.

Salary: The average wage of a physician assistant is $108,610 per year. This varies slightly depending on place of employment. PAs who work in outpatient centers earn $115,560 per year while those who work in doctors’ offices earn $107,230 per year.



  Have you ever known anyone who had

problems adjusting to changes in his life or

maybe had issues in his life that made him react

in ways that were causing him even more

problems? He may benefit from seeing and

talking to a different kind of doctor—

a psychologist.


   If you are interested in helping people adjust to problems or concerns in their lives, you may want to become a psychologist. Read on to find out more.


What They Do:  Psychologists counsel patients to help them understand emotional and social issues that may be negatively affected their lives. They observe their patients to find out how they relate to other people and they help them to adjust their behavior or attitudes in order to improve their lives.


   Psychologists also develop educational and behavioral programs for schools, agencies, and workplaces that address psychological issues. They diagnose problems and develop treatment plans to help patients.


Education/Training:  Psychologists have a 4-year college degree in psychology or a related field and also a master’s degree or doctoral degree in psychology. Psychologists who work in counseling at schools or health organizations also complete an internship as part of their doctoral program.

Salary: The average salary for psychologists is $79, 010 per year, but this varies greatly by specialty and place of employment. Some psychologists earn more than $129,250 per year.


Dietitian and Nutritionist

   Did you enjoy  studying about nutrition in

science classes?  Were you interested in the

nutrients that certain foods contained?  Did you

already know that the foods you eat can help

you feel better, have more energy and help you

manage certain health conditions?


   If you are interested in finding out more about

nutrition maybe a career as a dietitian or nutritionist is for you!  Diet plays a very important role in some people’s health.


What They Do: Dietitians and nutritionists advise people on issues about food. They assess a patient’s needs and develop meal plans to help the patient have a more healthy lifestyle through food choices. Dietitians monitor patients’ progress and change meal plans if needed They promote good health by speaking to groups about diet and nutrition.


   Dietitians also create educational materials to better inform people about the importance of good nutrition. They often work with patients with specific health problems. For example, it is very important for a person with diabetes to understand how food choices will affect their blood sugar levels. Another patient with high cholesterol may be able to lower the heart-damaging level with the proper nutrition.

Some dietitians and nutritionists work in hospitals or nursing facilities. Others work in community health departments.

Education/Training: Dietitians and nutritionists need a backelor’s degree (4-year college degree) in food and nutrition, public health nutrition, or a related field. They study nutrition, chemistry, biology and psychology.


   Most dietitian programs also include supervised training or an internship after graduation. These can serve as part of their college education or graduate-level (advanced degree) study.


   Most states require dietitians and nutritionists to be licensed by passing an exam.


Salary: The average salary for dietitians and nutritionists is $61,270 per year. The lowest 10% earned less than $38,890 per year and the highest 10% earned more than $87,360 per year.

   Wages can vary depending on place of employment. For example, dietitians who work in out-patient centers earn $68,000 per year while those to work in nursing care facilities earn $59,320 per year.


Health Educator and Community Health Worker

  Do you think you would like working with people to help them live healthier lives? Consider a career as a health educator or community health worker.


What They Do: Health educators work to educate

people about health and wellness. They develop

plans to help people learn about ways to improve

their health. They collect data on specific

populations or they train other health

professionals in the community. Health educators

often work in colleges and universities, public

health departments, and private businesses.


   Community health workers work directly with people in the community to find out their health concerns, recommend lifestyle changes to improve health, and to help them find resources that could make their lives better, such as enrollment in Medicare, Meals-on-Wheels services and more.

How do you become a health educator or community health worker?


Education/Training: Health educators need at least a four-year college degree in a health field. Some also need to pass exams to be certified for a specific job. Community health workers need at least a high school diploma and usually must complete some on-the-job training.

   It is important that health educators and community health workers have good interpersonal skills and get along well with people. They also need good problem-solving and writing skills.

Salary: The average wage for health educators is $54,220 per year. Hospitals pay the highest salaries while social assistance programs pay the least. The average salary for community health workers is $39,540 per year. Hospitals pay the highest salaries while governments, outpatient care services, and family, community services pay less.


Mental Health Counselors  

What They Do: Mental health counselors help

people who have a variety of emotional issues

deal with problems in their lives and the

consequences those problems produce.

Mental and emotional issues might include

drug abuse, drug addiction, behavior disorders

, or different types of mental illnesses.

Counselors develop treatment plans and review

the plans with patients and their families.  They help people develop the skills they need to recover from addiction or to reduce the negative effects of the mental health issue in their lives. They also work with the patient’s family members to help them cope with problems in the family.

   Mental health counselors who work with drug abuse issues are called substance abuse or addiction counselors. They teach people how to cope with stress without relapsing into drug abuse so they can rebuild their lives.


   Mental health counselors often specialize in one type of patient, such as children’s issues or in one type of mental health issue, such as anxiety, depression, or grief.

Mental health professionals are an important part of patient treatment.


Education/Training: Mental health counselors need at last a 4-year college degree in a psychology or social work-related field. Some positions require an advanced degree, such as a master’s degree. Requirements vary from state-to-state, but the services that are allowed to be provided depend on the level of education and experience. For example, workers with master’s degrees and patient counseling experience can provide more services to patients and require less supervision.

   All states require mental health counselors to be licensed after passing an exam and after completing a period of supervised patient work.

Salary: The average salary for mental health counselors is $44,630 per year, but this varies by place of employment. Counselors who work for the government earn an average of $51,690 per year while those who work in residential (in-patient) facilities earn $38,190 per year.


Nurse Midwife

Are you interested in a medical career, but you aren’t

quite sure which career may be for you? Consider a

career as a nurse midwife.  Read below for more info

about what a nurse midwife does and how you prepare

for this important and meaningful career.


What They Do: Nurse midwives are nurses who care

for women before, during and after pregnancy. During

prenatal (before the baby is born) visits, they counsel

patients on healthcare issues that keep both the mother

and baby healthy. They also assist in a normal delivery

of the baby.


   Midwives work with other healthcare professionals such as social workers, dietitians, physical therapists and physicians to provide complete care for the mother and baby. If there are complications with the pregnancy, the nurse midwife refers the mother to a physician for further care.

   Midwives have a lot of responsibilities. They record medical histories, perform physical exams, order tests, administer medicines and consult with doctors.


Education and Training: Nurse midwives are registered nurses who have additional education and training from a certified midwifery college. They receive their nursing degree from a four-year college and work toward a midwifery degree for another two year.

   Nurse midwives work in physicians’ offices, hospitals, and birthing centers. They may also visit patients in the home setting.

Salary: The median annual wage for nurse midwives is $105,000, but wages vary with region, experience, and education. They also vary with place of employment.



Dental hygienist

   You may have visited your dentist and had your teeth examined by a dental hygienist. Did you wonder how the hygienist learned to do so many different tasks—from cleaning your teeth to taking x-rays?

   Read below to learn more about how to become a dental hygienist. Maybe this is the career for you!

What they do: Dental hygienists work in dentist offices

to help patients maintain good oral health. They

examine patients for signs of oral diseases and

educate patient on good oral health practices.


   During patient check-ups, dental hygienists remove

tartar and plaque from teeth, take dental x-rays, apply

teeth treatments, and keep patient records and charts about care and treatment plans.

   Dental hygienists use many types of dental tools in their work. They remove stains with polishing devices and automatic toothbrushes. They also use ultrasonic tools and may use lasers. Dental hygienists work under the supervision of a dentist.


Education/Training: Dental hygienists need an associate’s degree in dental hygiene. These programs usually take about 3 years to complete, but bachelor’s degrees (a four-year degree program) in dental hygiene is also available. Dental hygiene associate degree programs are often found in community colleges and technical schools as well as university settings.

   Courses of study include classroom, laboratory and clinical instruction. Studies include anatomy, medical ethics and periodontics (study of gum disease). High school students interested in a career in dental hygiene should take courses in biology, chemistry and math.

   All states require that dental hygienists are licensed. Applicants usually have to pass written and clinical exams to be licensed.

Salary: The average wage for dental hygienists is $76,220 per year. The lowest 10% earn less than $53,130 per year while the highest 10% earned more than $103,340 per year. Wages vary greatly depending on place of employment and level of education. For example, dental hygienists working in dentist offices earn $76,510 per year; dental hygienists working for the government earn $60,390 per year.

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