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Other Health Professions

 

Important: Even if you have already decided upon a career path, it is important that you become familiar with the roles different healthcare professionals fulfill, their training and educational backgrounds, and the services they provide, since you will likely encounter them during whatever health career you choose to pursue.

 

Explore A Variety Of Health Career Options

The Health Professions and Prelaw Center invites you to use the resources on this page to learn about the many ways you could build a fulfilling career in the health professions, and make a difference through your work in healthcare.

People tend to be most familiar with the roles of doctors and nurses, because these two professions are ingrained in our popular culture, and because people often interact with these particular healthcare professionals more frequently than others. Fewer people are familiar with the work of the cytotechnologist, the respiratory therapist, the health information administrator, and the dozens, if not hundreds, of other types of professionals who provide vital services, and are essential members of the healthcare team. Health career areas include a wide range of diagnostic, therapeutic, and administrative services, some of which emphasize laboratory science, others of which emphasize direct patient care, and still others of which involve entirely different skill sets and career interests. For instance, many - though not all - health fields require very strong science abilities, just as those fields which involve direct patient care require highly developed interpersonal skills. We strongly encourage you to complete the self-assesment questionnaire, linked from the next section, and to carefully consider your own personality, interests, abilities, and aptitudes as you make your career decisions.

"Allied health professions"

As you explore your options, you may encounter the term "allied health professions," which is sometimes used as a subcategory of health professions in general. Allied health professionals perform diagnostic procedures, provide therapeutic services, and other patient care as part of a team of caregivers. Click HERE for a more thorough description of the term "allied health."

 

Assess Your Interests, Aptitudes, And Preferences (self-assessment questionnaire)

The Health Professions and Prelaw Center has developed a self-assessment questionnaire to help you more clearly identify and evaluate your aptitudes, your areas of interest, and what has drawn your attention to these areas. If you are a prehealth professions student, or still in the process of exploring different health fields, we strongly suggest you complete the questionnaire and bring it to a session with your academic advisor. Click HERE to open the survey in your word processing program.

 

Different Kinds Of Training For Different Professions

The kind and length of training required for professional practice in a given health field varies dramatically from one field to another. Here are some examples:

  • Non-Degree Certificates: length of training typically varies from several weeks to several months, depending on the program. Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) are probably the most well known types of certificate training programs.
  • Specialized associate's degrees specific to a given health-related field: often though not always an Associate of Science degree (AS)*, and typically a 2-year degree, usually including any admission prerequisites. Example: a 2-year nursing degree, or ASN; typically conferred by community colleges. Another example: a 2-year respiratory therapy degree. There are dozens of other examples of specialized associate's degrees.
  • Specialized bachelor's degrees specific to a given health-related field: often though not always a Bachelor of Science degree (BS)*, and typically a 4-year degree, including any admission prerequisites. Example: the Bachelor of Social Work degree, or BSW. Other examples: a 4-year nursing degree commonly includes 1 year of admission prerequisites and general education courses and 3 years of professional training and clinicals; a BS in Respiratory Therapy may include 2 years of prerequisites and 2 years of professional courses and clinicals.
  • Master's degree (for example, MSOT - Master of Science in Occupational Therapy, MSW - Master of Social Work): generally, a 2-year graduate degree following a bachelor's degree. Some master's degrees require summer coursework, others do not. Other such programs take longer; for example, the typical physician assistant program (MPAS) is 27 months, including summers.
  • Doctoral degree (for example, DPT - Doctor of Physical Therapy, DO - Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine): length of training varies. For example, the DPT degree requires 3 years of training, while medical school is 4 years, plus an additional 3 - 6 years to complete residency and fellowship.

IUB students may complete the requirements for admission to most such programs on the Bloomington campus, and then apply for admission to the professional program itself. Be aware that admission to most health professions programs is competitive, sometimes extremely so; therefore, you will need to be diligent and systematic throughout your preprofessional process as you strive to gain admission.

In addition to completing coursework, clinical observation ("shadowing") and other professional development activities are crucial to the process of selecting and pursuing any career path. To learn what kinds of experiences are most important for admission to your programs of interest, consult the HPPLC page for your area.

* Training for some fields - for example, nursing, respiratory therapy, radiation therapy, health information administration, and others - can be garnered through either an AS or a BS degree. In most cases, someone who has earned the AS will take the exact same certification exam as someone with the BS degree. How much of a difference in pay or job opportunity there is between the AS and BS depends on many factors, including the particular health field, and the job market within a given geographical region.

Choosing A Preprofessional Undergraduate Degree/Major

If you are thinking of pursuing a graduate-level health professions program, note that most require you to complete a bachelor's degree prior to beginning your professional coursework. (Technically, not all dentistry, medicine, optometry, and pharmacy programs require an undergraduate degree, but in practical terms students should plan to complete one. Pre-OT, PT, and PA students, click HERE for additional guidelines for choosing an appropriate degree / major.) Note: Most graduate-level programs have no preference as to what kind of undergraduate degree or major you complete.

The resources on the HPPLC Exploring Majors, Minors, and Certificates page can help you with the following:

  • quickly and efficiently narrow your areas of interest with regard to your undergraduate degree / major
  • serve as a starting point for identifying non-health-related undergraduate majors of interest, if you feel you'd like or need a back-up plan
  • identify undergraduate minors and certificates which could add breadth to your degree

 

Explore Health Professions

There are literally hundreds of healthcare or healthcare-related professions. We encourage you to use the resources below to research your interests as you undertake the process of making decisions about your career, and your choice of health professions programs.

  • Assess your health field interests, aptitudes, and preferences by completing the HPPLC self-assessment questionnaire.
  • The HPPLC resource Additional Healthcare-Related Programs lists other health-related degrees, credentials, and programs, some available at IUB, others at IUPUI and / or nationally at other institutions. (Note: HPPLC does NOT provide advising for most such areas, but we have included links to pertinent websites.)
  • Health-career research tips
  • In the US Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), we suggest you scan the A-Z Index, linked from the bottom of that page. There, you will encounter dozens of health-related jobs and careers, many of which you have probably never thought about before.
    • We suggest skimming through the entire A-Z list, making note of any job types which look interesting to you on the face of it. It might take you a while to scroll through the list but it will be worth the investment. (Note: we do not recommend simply referring to the "Healthcare" link in the "Occupation Groups" on the OOH page, because the health profession listings therein are extremely incomplete.)
    • Click on a job of interest to learn more about it. If it continues to intrigue you add it to your list of possibilities to research further and perhaps to shadow. If not, cross it off your list.
    • Do not ignore health-related jobs you have not heard of or don't initially understand. Instead, click the link and read the description of the job. If it intrigues you, look into it further. If not, cross it off your list.
  • The [PDF File] Health Professions Descriptions handout Includes descriptions of dozens of professional health programs, as well as other health-related degrees and majors (PDF contains hyperlinks - if you receive a security caution, select "OK" or "Allow").
  • ExploreHealthCareers.org is another good place to begin researching health fields.
  • You can learn a lot from exploring the sites of professional organizations associated with your fields of interest; for example, the American Occupational Therapy Association, the American Association for Respiratory Care, and the like. No matter what the professional area, a web search for National Association of [your area], American Association of ___, American Society of ___, etc., will likely yield useful results.
  • Try reading around in the professional publications and journals associated with your fields of interest, which can likewise teach you a lot about the given career.
  • IUB's Career Development Center provides a useful health professions Web Link Library.
  • Other IUB Career Services

GPA And Target GPA Calculators

Having clear, realistic GPA information is especially important for preprofessional students, who are usually pursuing admission to programs with moderately or highly competitive admissions. For examples of some useful GPA calculators, click HERE.

 

Examples Of Graduate-Level Health Professions Programs

Professional practice in the health professions listed below requires a graduate-level degree. These professional programs typically do NOT have a preference for any particular undergraduate degree/major. When selecting a degree/major as part of your preparation for a graduate-level health profession program, consider ones you would enjoy and in which you can excel. HPPLC provides preprofessional and career advising, as well as other services, in relation to these fields.

 

Additional Health-Related Programs

    • The HPPLC resource Additional Healthcare-Related Programs lists other health-related degrees, credentials, and programs, some available at IUB, others at IUPUI and / or nationally at other institutions. (Note: HPPLC does NOT provide advising for most such areas, but we have included links to pertinent websites.)

 

Examples Of Undergraduate Health Professions Programs

Dental Hygiene

IU Bloomington does NOT offer a dental hygiene program, though current IUB students sometimes change career paths and complete DH admission requirements at IUB.

Prospective freshmen and prospective transfer students who know from the start that they intend to pursue dental hygiene, be aware that you might be best advantaged by simply completing the admission prerequisites at the school which offers the DH program in which you are interested. Click HERE for information about pursuing dental hygiene.

Nursing

Admission to the IU Bloomington School of Nursing is extremely competitive. Carefully consult the HPPLC prenursing page in relation to the admission process and contingency planning options for prenursing students.

Undergraduate Professional Degrees through IU School Of Medicine (SOM HPP)

These programs are NOT offered through IUB, though current IUB students sometimes change career paths and complete admission requirements for these programs in Bloomington.

Prospective freshmen and prospective transfer students who know from the start that they intend to pursue one of the School of Medicine Health Professions Programs, be aware that you might be best advantaged by simply completing the admission prerequisites on the Indianapolis campus! Click HERE for additional information.

Additional Health-Related Programs

    • The HPPLC resource Additional Healthcare-Related Programs lists other health-related degrees, credentials, and programs, some available at IUB, others at IUPUI and / or nationally at other institutions. (Note: HPPLC does NOT provide advising for most such areas, but we have included links to pertinent websites.)

 

 

High School Students and Parents

Important information for high school students and their parents. Also, an invitation to visit the Health Professions and Prelaw Center! Read more »

Exploring Health Professions?

Make sure to attend the annual Health Programs Fair, where you can meet directly with representatives of health professions programs from across the country!

 

Important

This information was prepared for Indiana University Bloomington students by the Health Professions and Prelaw Center. Please note that specific requirements and policies can change at any time without notice. Students are responsible for obtaining the most current information directly from application and testing services, financial aid resources, and the schools and programs in which they have an interest. Refer to each program's web pages, bulletins, and other publications for the most current information. Students are responsible for understanding degree course requirements, as well as other requirements, policies, and procedures related to the degree(s) they are pursuing; for enrolling in appropriate courses; for understanding IU policies/procedures; third-party policies/procedures; and for following through properly with regard to all of the preceding.