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11 Most Rewarding Medical Careers

Medical careers used to be defined as a choice between being a nurse, doctor, administrator, surgeon or working as part of the cleanup crew. However, the medical industry has become much more diverse with the rise of technology and increasing specialization. Here are the 11 most rewarding medical careers, some of which you may not have known existed. We’ll explain what they do and why these jobs are so rewarding in addition to being valuable to patients and society at large.

1. Music Therapist

Music therapists are a rather novel medical profession, since it didn’t exist a few years ago. In World War I and World War II, musicians would visit injured veterans and perform for them. Music therapy became a distinct discipline in its own right after World War 2 to improve the emotional and physical health of patients.

Medical therapists obviously know how to play music, but they’re also taught about psychology and medicine. Their work is intended to ease the stress and anxiety of patients without medication, and they may utilize a variety of techniques to aid patients in rehab. Getting someone to stand up and dance when they otherwise wouldn’t try to get out of bed or encouraging someone reluctant to speak to join in a song is invaluable.

2. Medical Illustration

You don’t have to choose between art and medicine. You can become a medical illustrator. They’ve traditionally created the detailed medical images seen in textbooks, but they may be called to create graphics and infographics for websites too. They may use their knowledge of medicine to create art for educational pamphlets and videos. Their work may be part of scientific articles to demonstrate or explain a concept. They periodically create computer-based training for patients, nurses and surgeons.

There are relatively few medical illustrators; estimates put the number of full-time medical illustrators at around a thousand. However, they are crucial to educating patients, future medical professionals and the public at large. A few even help to create lifelike prosthetic devices for patients, or create the instructions on how to assemble the prosthetic and put it on for the first time.

3. Dance Therapy

Dance therapy is a more recent innovation than music therapy. Yet it is a popular new form of physical therapy. Dance therapy can encourage someone with limited mobility to get up and move, helping them maintain the physical capabilities they do have.

Dance therapy is a rather simple job too, just turn on the music and coach people so they’re willing to join in. It is something that can be done in groups and fosters social relationships. It can reduce anxiety, stress and fear. Dance therapists get to help people feel good and get back into shape. They may visit schools, nursing homes, hospitals and physical rehabilitation practices.

4. Neonatal Nurse

Neonatal nurses by definition focus on newborns. However, neonatal nurses may work with critically ill infants and toddlers. They provide specialized medical care to premature infants and any very young child recovering from illness or surgery. You need at least a bachelor’s degree to work as a neonatal nurse, but working in advanced critical care roles or management roles requires a nurse practitioner degree. Neonatal nurses are in very high demand, especially in states like Texas with high birth rates. What’s better is that you can earn your degree by searching for online neonatal nurse practitioner programs in Texas and continue working in your position if you’re already a nurse.

Neonatal nurse practitioners may work in neonatal intensive care units at big hospitals, assist in labor and delivery when there are multiple and premature births, or work in children’s hospitals. Neonatal nurse practitioners with only a bachelor’s degree may assist in delivery or work with healthy infants in the nursery, and they’ll visit mothers and newborns in their rooms until they’re discharged. Nurses dealing with the most intensive cases need a more advanced education to be able to deal with ventilators, incubators and complex medical cases.

This job is emotionally challenging, since you’re dealing with sick and at-risk infants and their parents. Yet you’re working with babies and doing everything possible to save their lives and give them the best possible chance in life. For many, working with a smaller number of little patients until they’re able to go home is a reward in and of itself.

5. Biostatisticians

Biostatisticians analyze data on thousands of patients to determine the most important risk factors in predicting someone’s outcomes. They study the data on outbreaks to map the spread of the disease, determine factors enabling its spread, and analyze information on treatments in the field to find those most likely to work for all patients.

They may determine which hospitals and doctors have the best and worst overall patient outcomes, and they mine data on medical studies to find possible solutions for unusual problems. This is a great way for math majors to contribute to medical research without having to work in the lab.

6. Forensic Scientists

Forensic scientists are popular on TV right now. On TV, they’re seen making arrests and interrogating suspects. In reality, they’re going to spend most of their time in the lab. They may go to crime scenes to gather physical evidence like blood, fingerprints and biological remains. They’ll run the tests to determine the unique DNA patterns and search databases to determine who the perpetrator or victim was. Their analysis of the crime scene and items found there, such as fired guns, will indicate when the crime happened and provide an educated guess as to what actually happened.

Forensic scientists work with detectives to document the crime scene, reconstruct events and determine what additional information may be needed from witnesses. For example, they may take the blood of a suspect to run drug tests, just as they may test an unknown sample to determine if it is drugs. Forensic scientists may be called in as expert witnesses to explain the meaning of the evidence they found or explain toxicology findings.

7. Biomedical Engineers

Biomedical engineers are regularly hired to design artificial limbs tailored to each patient and design dental prosthetics like invisible braces. They’re sometimes brought in to invent new medical sensors and life-saving devices. A few will help to create the software and hardware that processes medical data and presents accurate images for other medical professionals. They are the ones who may invent the artificial organs or futuristic inventions we need to eliminate various diseases and disorders.

8. Art Therapists

Art therapy is another fun medical career open to creative types. Unlike medical illustration, there are many of these jobs everywhere from nursing homes to children’s hospitals to psychiatric hospitals.

Art therapy can help those recovering from trauma to express their feelings. Creating art can get someone recovering from a stroke to use their eyes and hands for a defined purpose. Creating art may help retirees delay the cognitive decline associated with age. It allows very young children in the hospital to be distracted from their anxiety and stress while doing something fun.

9. Animal Therapist

Many of us love animals, and that doesn’t stop when you’re stuck in the hospital. Animal therapists regularly bring animals to visit patients in the hospital. This can provide stress and anxiety relief for a variety of patients. Animal therapists also utilize animals to treat people dealing with disabilities.

For example, a patient with limited use of their legs may be given regular horseback rides to exercise their legs and back. Dogs and other pets can help autistic children become comfortable in public, because they’ll have a trusty companion that won’t judge them right by their side. Or a heart patient may be willing to get up and go for a walk with the therapy dog as practice for when they walk their own dog on returning home. A few lucky animal therapists are even called to help patients swim with dolphins. Others bring therapy dogs to the library to help children feel comfortable reading and speaking aloud.

10. Healthcare IT Specialists

Healthcare IT is a rapidly expanding IT discipline in its own right. Healthcare IT Specialists often work supporting electronic medical records and the devices healthcare providers rely on to access critical information. They also perform similar tasks to other IT staff like fixing computers, upgrading networks and maintaining servers.

11. Dietician

If you love food and want to help people, working as a dietician may be right for you. You’ll work with doctors and other healthcare providers to determine a client’s health needs and long-term goals.

This team will create a plan of action for the patient involving diet, exercise, and possibly medication or therapy. A dietician may teach healthy eating habits to someone who’s dealing with weight issues or teach someone how to select and cook food that is compatible with their newly diagnosed health condition. They may plan and oversee the preparation of meals for patients with special needs. Or they may verify whether the nutritional needs of all patients are met when meals for a whole group are made.


Regardless of your interests and skills, there is a role you can play in the healthcare industry, benefiting patients and society as a whole. Many of these jobs can be both fun and fulfilling, and all of them are rewarding.

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