Careers

Dentists

Dentists diagnose and treat diseases of the teeth, jaws, and surrounding soft tissues of the mouth. They also help prevent dental disease in their patients by teaching them how to care for their teeth properly and helping them develop the good nutritional habits that keep teeth and gums healthy. Dentists perform a variety of services. In addition to correcting problems caused by dental decay, they treat injuries of the mouth, infections, tumors, and other conditions. Some dentists practice general dentistry, which involves all phases of dental work. Others specialize in areas such as orthodontics, correcting irregularities in the position of teeth. Oral surgeons focus on the surgical correction of oral problems, such as impacted wisdom teeth, tumors, and cysts. Pedodontists treat children and other patients with special needs, such as mentally or physically challenged people.

Good dental care includes regular visits to the dentist. In this photo, a dentist is filling a cavity.

Dietitians

Dietitians use the principles of nutrition to plan menus, special diets, and other nutritional programs. Research dietitians study how diet affects a person’s health and develop improved methods for processing and packaging food. Consultant dietitians manage foodservice programs in restaurants, schools, and nursing homes. Clinical dietitians work in hospitals and other health-care facilities, planning individual nutrition programs, such as low-fat or low-salt meals, for patients with special needs. Community dietitians design disease-prevention programs for public health organizations and teach people howto plan healthy menus and prepare nutritious meals forthemselves and their families. Dietetic technicians assist dietitians in planning menus, standardizing recipes, evaluating new food products, and teaching people good nutrition practices.

Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedics

Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedics, also known as EMT-para-medics, provide emergency medical care to accident victims and people who suffer from heart attacks and other sudden illnesses. EMT-paramedics receive extensive training at a hospital or college, learning advanced medical procedures as well as basic life-saving techniques. They usually work in teams of two or more, using a. special ambulance that carries medical equipment, supplies, and therapeutic drugs. When called to the scene of an accident or illness, paramedics use a two-way radio to contact an emergency-care physician at a nearby hospital. They report the victim’s condition and vital signs, such as pulse, blood pressure, and breathing, so that emergency room personnel are prepared for their arrival. Sometimes the paramedics continue treatment while they are transporting the victim to the hospital.

Exercise physiologists

Exercise physiologists develop individual and group exercise programs that promote physical fitness safely. They may work with healthy people who want to prevent illness and maintain a sense of well-being, or they may work with people who are recuperating from an illness or other medical condition, such as a heart attack, to restore cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, and coordination. Before planning a patient’s program, exercise physiologists conduct tests to determine the patient’s vital statistics. Under the supervision of a physician, they record heart activity while the patient walks on a treadmill, and use a spirometer to measure the patient’s oxygen consumption. After evaluating all the test data, these physiologists write initial and follow-up exercise prescriptions, including specifics such as the use of certain equipment and the type of exercises to be done, as well as the duration of each exercise session.

Medical laboratory technologists

Medical laboratory technologists help doctors diagnose, treat, and prevent disease by performing tests and conducting research in the laboratory. They carry out chemical analyses of body fluids and tissue samples to find evidence of disease. They also examine blood cells microscopically and perform blood grouping, type, and compatibility tests to ensure that patients who need transfusions are given the correct type of blood. Medical technologists work in hospitals, public health organizations, and medical research facilities, as well as in the laboratories of private physicians. Although most of their work is done “behind the scenes,” medical laboratory technologists have a vital role in patient care, because physicians often use their findings to make decisions about a patient’s treatment.

Nurses

Nurses work to help sick and injured people get well. Nurses are concerned with the well-being of their patients, reassuring them and boosting their morale. When necessary, they also provide emotional support to the patient’s family. Most nurses work in hospitals, but some visit patients in their homes, and others care for people in doctors’ and dentists’ offices. Nurses perform many different kinds of duties. In the operating room, they organize the instruments a surgeon will use and hand them to the surgeon as soon as they are needed. In the hospital ward, or a patient’s home, nurses administer prescribed medicines and monitor their patients closely for changes in their condition or unusual reactions to medication. They also make sure that patients are getting the right nutrition and exercise.

Occupational therapists

Occupational therapists plan and supervise practical activities designed to treat physical or mental disabilities. They focus primarily on helping patients gain confidence in their ability to lead a normal life as they develop the skills they need to perform specific tasks. Occupational therapists help physically disabled people use their bodies more effectively by teaching them activities that build strength and coordination. When patients are unable to regain the use of certain muscles, occupational therapists teach them new ways to perform everyday tasks. Such therapists can help mentally disabled people cope with daily tasks by showing them how to plan and schedule their activities. They also work with chronically ill people, helping them adjust to their limitations by redirecting them into new activities and hobbies.

Pathologists

Pathologists study disease or any condition that limits the quality or length of a person’s life. These scientists use highly sophisticated methods and instruments, such as electron microscopes, to observe how disease causes changes in a patient’s tissues and organs. Clinical pathologists use laboratory test samples, such as blood, urine, and tissue, to help physicians diagnose the nature and extent of diseases in their patients. They also examine tissue that has been removed from patients during surgery. For example, a surgeon may remove some tissue from a tumor, which is immediately frozen and sliced into extremely thin sections. A pathologist then looks at the sections under a microscope to determine whether or not the tumor is cancerous. The pathologist’s findings help the surgeon decide how to complete the operation. Forensic pathologists perform autopsies on crime victims to learn the cause of death.

An exercise physiologist monitors a patient in rehabilitation

Pharmacists

Pharmacists specialize in the preparation, distribution, and use of drugs. To become a pharmacist, a person must complete a five- or six-year program at a college of pharmacy, serve an internship, and pass a licensing examination. Many pharmacists work in a pharmacy, also called a drugstore. Others work in clinics, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, or research laboratories. They fill prescriptions written by physicians or dentists and prepare the labels that give patients directions on how to use the drug. Pharmacists today are generally not required to compound (combine ingredients) for medicines, as they were in the past. However, they must be able to prepare antiseptic solutions, ointments, and other remedies.

Pharmacists prepare, distribute, and give advice on the use of drugs and medicines.

Physical therapists

Physical therapists plan and implement treatment programs that use physical means to relieve pain, restore a patient’s ability to function normally, and prevent further disability. After conducting tests to determine a patient’s strength and functional capacity, physical therapists develop a treatment program with specific objectives based on the data they have accumulated. Then they administer whatever physical therapy is required, often teaching the patient how to do specific exercises or use special mechanical devices or both to make improvements.
Physical therapists use a variety of techniques and special equipment to restore function in disabled patients. For example, they use ultraviolet radiation to promote healing of certain skin disorders and ultrasound to treat muscle, joint, and nerve inflammation.

Physicians

Physicians, or doctors, are highly trained professionals who must undergo many years of study before they are qualified to treat patients. Most premedical students are four-year college graduates. Their postgraduate education consists of four years of medical school and a period of hospital residency, during which they examine patients and prescribe treatment under the supervision of experienced doctors. The length of residency varies from about three to seven years, depending on the chosen field of medicine. Some medical specialties focus on a particular body system or organ, such as cardiology, which is the diagnosis and treatment of heart disorders, or orthopedics, which involves the skeletal and muscular system. Other specialties involve the use of specific techniques or processes. For example, anesthesiologists administer anesthetics during surgical operations, and radiologists use X rays and imaging techniques to diagnose and treat disease.

This physician is an anesthesiologist, a specialist who administers anesthesia during surgery.

Physiologists

Physiologists are scientists who study the various characteristics of living things and how they function—from the single cell of an organism to its more complex organs and organ systems. Physiologists who focus their studies on the properties of individual cells are called cell physiologists. By exploring the complexities of cell function, these specialists hope to learn what causes some cells to become cancerous. Physiologists also study how different parts or organs of an organism work together to perform a specific function. They use their knowledge of how these systems function normally to better understand what happens when the systems function abnormally. The research conducted by physiologists helps doctors diagnose and treat diseases.