One of the biggest decisions a prospective graduate student must make is to determine which area of study to pursue. Unlike undergraduate degrees, which are not necessarily deterministic in terms of which career options are made available to you, graduate school represents a much more significant investment of both money and time, and candidates will want to ensure that they set themselves on a path that is as conducive as possible to landing them in the career of their choice.
One field that the career-minded student might want to seriously consider for post-graduate study is medicine. Even if you're not looking to dive headfirst into med school, residency and the rest of the arduous path that physicians tread, there are a myriad of potential career paths in medicine that can be pursued through graduate studies.
Support and administration
The field of medicine is much more diverse than many people may think. Doctors and surgeons aren't the only healthcare professionals that might benefit from earning a graduate degree. In fact, there are many support and technical positions that interested prospective students can explore. According to Forbes, radiology technicians and medical profusionists, the professionals who operate bypass and other respiratory machines, are two such professions. These positions allow for close patient interaction for those who want to work directly with people but prefer not to attend medical school.
Of course, students who are more comfortable behind a desk than they are behind an operating table, also have many career options in healthcare industries. The medical industry is more than just the practical application of medicine - there is a strong infrastructure of administration and sales involved in keeping the wheels of patient care turning.
Pharmaceutical companies are likely to employ sales professionals to liaise between drug providers and health care facilities such as hospitals, clinics and surgical centers. Such a position may be perfect for those who wish to remain connected to the health care world, but whose skills lie along a more extroverted path. Similarly, transplant coordinators fill a necessary but little-known niche, bridging the gap between patient, doctor and paperwork in the organ transplant process. As Forbes indicated, many professionals in this position are also registered nurses, and work very closely with patients throughout the transplant process.
Therapy and rehabilitation
Prospective students interested in pursuing a career in a medical field, might also be interested in researching graduate programs in therapeutic fields. More than just psychology or psychiatry, those interested in this potential path can explore things such as physical therapy, sports therapy and medicine, and occupational therapy for purposes of rehabilitation.
As Aureus Medical Group reported, the field of occupational therapy in particular is expected to boom in the coming years, due in part largely to the aging baby boomer population. In the decade between 2008 and 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field is expected to experience a 26 percent growth, making it a potentially attractive career.
Aside from physical therapy, counseling-focused positions are also a very viable choice for those interested in the medical profession. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a growth of 29 percent over the next 10 years for the field of mental health counselors, including marriage and family counselors. Such a position would allow those interested in pursuing it to bypass medical school while still working in a one-on-one setting with patients - all that's required in many states to practice is a master's degree and a certification or licensure to practice.
About the Author: Laura Morrison is the Web Content Manager for GradSchools.com. She earned an MBA from the Rutgers School of Business in 2010.