For most of us, our primary contact with medical professionals are frontline workers — doctors, physicians, surgeons, nurses, paramedics, and specialists.
Many of us are unaware of the “behind-the-scenes” jobs. Here are 6 careers in healthcare you probably never heard of!
For anyone who has received a diagnosis of a critical illness, like cancer, a cytotechnologist is the person who initially discovered it. Cytotechnologists examine biopsy tissue and pap smears and identify cancerous or precancerous tissue, bacterial infections, and other diseases.
A cytotechnologist spends most of their time behind a microscope examining cells and identifying cellular anomalies. They forward their findings to the pathologist for final diagnosis.
Cytogenetic technology is a branch of cytotechnology that identifies DNA abnormalities or mutations. They examine chromosomes in the blood, amniotic fluid, and bone marrow to identify Down Syndrome in fetuses, congenital birth defects, fertility problems, and rare genetic conditions.
If you have a fear of needles, the phlebotomist is someone you’d rather avoid. Phlebotomists are the vampires of the medical industry — they draw blood. Their job may seem simple, but it is a vital part of healthcare. Many illnesses require a blood sample to identify the problem. Phlebotomists also work for blood donation organizations.
Becoming a phlebotomist is a good way to get a foot into the healthcare industry. All that’s required is to complete a phlebotomy certification course with an accredited training program. If you’re unsure of what healthcare career to pursue, starting as a phlebotomist gives you the chance to get a feel for the industry and find the niche you like best.
Biostatisticians analyze data and statistics collected during medical research studies. They use this data to draw conclusions or make predictions on public health trends.
When you come across statistics like “exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of heart disease by an estimated 25 to 30%”, it’s likely that a biostatistician arrived at the finding. Biostatisticians also analyze drug trials and experimental treatments.
The field of biostatistics dovetails with epidemiology, which analyzes the causes, frequency and distribution of diseases among a population. In fact, some choose to study both disciplines in a combined biostatistics and epidemiology degree. They occupy positions like infection control epidemiologist, infection preventionist, pharmaceutical epidemiologist, and veterinary epidemiologist.
It takes a special kind of person to become a scatologist. They analyze poop. No, that’s not a typo. Animal poop is called scat. Scatalogists study and analyze fecal excrement for diagnostic purposes.
Feces can actually tell us a lot about our general health. A scatoloist can find parasites, bacteria, and discover low levels of gut fauna and flora. Many health problems can be traced to poor gut health.
So, while this is not the most glamorous job, the role of a scatologist is important in diagnosing disease. Although, it will be interesting to know how they answer the question “So, what do you do for a living?” at a dinner party.
While surgeons get the most recognition for life-saving operations, they can’t perform operations without a team of medical professionals. We may be aware of theater nurses and the anesthetist, but most of us have probably never heard of the perfusionist.
Many who have undergone open heart surgery in which the heart must be temporarily stopped, like in a heart bypass operation, have been under the care of a qualified perfusionist.
Surgeons cannot operate on a beating heart. So the heart is stopped and the patient is connected to a cardiopulmonary bypass machine (also called the heart-lung machine), which takes over the circulatory and respiratory functions of the body. The perfusionist is the person responsible for operating that machine.
6. Medical Dosimetrist
The medical dosimetrist plays an important role on the oncology team in treating cancer. Medical dosimetrists calculate the highest dose of radiation to give a patient at the safest levels.
Radiation therapy, while it successfully kills cancerous cells, can also damage healthy cells, tissues and organs. That’s why the medical dosimetrist’s job is so important. Radiation is a dangerous chemical. Administer too much and it can cause serious burns to the skin or damage internal organs.
The medical dosimetrist, through 3D imaging determines where a tumor is and how big it is. They then formulate a treatment plan that will administer the ideal dose of radiation to the tumor with little or no damage to surrounding organs or tissue. Exact calculations are crucial and the dosimetrist will run several computer simulations until they hit the correct dosage.
While you may not have heard of these medical careers before, you could have unknowingly crossed paths with them during a diagnosis or while being treated for a health condition. These medical professionals are extremely dedicated to their role in healthcare, despite being invisible to the greater population.
7. Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer
Every large company and organization faces ethical challenges. This is especially true of the health care system, where employees may encounter complex and difficult ethical challenges on a near-daily basis.
To help deal with these challenges, organizations need a standard program to define the ethical boundaries of their work, and a compliance program to make certain those guidelines are followed.
That’s where a Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer comes in. A CECO is an executive management position that carries the responsibility of developing and maintaining the compliance standards that companies must follow in their daily operations. They must not only be familiar with the laws pertaining to their operations, but also be ready to directly address compliance issues when they arise.
Responsibilities of a CECO may include developing equal opportunity hiring strategies, developing a better workplace experience for employees, and develop training programs to help further ethical best practices.