4 Health Care Careers For Squeamish People

health jobs for squeamishThis article originally appeared on Schools.com

By Laura Vogel

If you love helping people, but your stomach flips at the thought of working with blood and guts, you may think that a career in the medical field is just out of the question. Not so! Despite what you may think, there are loads of well-paying jobs in health care that can be well suited for people who swoon at the sight of blood.

Experts suggest that if you're interested in a medical career -- but aren't sure if you can handle the most traumatic aspects of it -- give yourself a trial run. You may be surprised at what you can do when the adrenaline kicks in -- or not. Jeff Cohen, the author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Recession-Proof Careers," advises, "Before incurring the time and expense to go to medical school, volunteer for one week with your local ambulance corps. Go on a few emergency calls with the team and see how your stomach handles the blood and gore."

If you know that even one hour in an ambulance will send you over the edge, consider these non-gory health care career paths.

Personal or home health care aide

For those looking to quickly enter a career where you can help others, becoming a home health care aid can be a sound choice. Certified home aids visit clients' homes and help the elderly, sick, or people out on workman's comp. Aides provide company, do light housework and shopping, bring clients to doctor's offices and other appointments, and help them with light personal care. This type of position can be good for the squeamish, because while home aids help people, if any blood-work is necessary for the client, it must be done by a nurse, phlebotomist or someone else licensed to take blood.

Frank Wolson, regional sales director of Vision Healthcare Services in New York City, says, "There is always a need for these types of workers. In order to start, you just need to take a two-week course to earn national certification from the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) and, thereafter, maintain your certification."

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), personal and home care aides earned an annual salary of between $16,300 and $29,300 in 2010, and the projected job growth is 51 percent by 2018. Pay is generally higher in urban areas.


The near-constant stream of new medications being developed -- as well as the aging of the American population -- means that pharmacists will, increasingly, be a vital part of the average person's wellness team. Pharmacists work at hospitals, clinics, or commercial drug stores and dispense prescribed medications, create medical compounds as directed by physicians, and monitor their patients' prescriptions for possible negative interactions. On a more casual level, these professionals advise customers on non-prescription treatments for various ailments.

To become a licensed pharmacist, you must earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from a college of pharmacy. It takes a minimum of six years to complete this degree. Dr. William Law, the vice dean of Misher College of Arts and Sciences at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, is a fan of this choice for his more squeamish students, saying, "Being a pharmacist can be a very lucrative and rewarding career!" Indeed, according to the BLS, pharmacists earned an average salary $111,570 in 2010, with a projected job growth of 22 percent by 2018.

Medical and health services manager

While it takes skilled executives to run hospitals, insurance companies and other health care institutions, medical and health services managers deal with patients infrequently and never with their health concerns. Also called health care executives or health care administrators, these professionals supervise the delivery of medical care. These positions can either cover specializations by department or be more general, with an executive supervising a whole institution.

Typically, at least a bachelor's degree in a relevant field is necessary to break into this field, though a master's degree -- in health-services administration, long-term care administration, health sciences, public health, public administration or business administration -- is preferable for landing a position as a medical or health care manager.

Per 2010 BLS figures, medical or health services manager can expect to earn a median salary of $84,270, with a projected job growth of 16 percent by 2018.

Physical therapist

Dr. Law recommends that those who'd prefer to be "front-line specialists and really help people," consider the field of physical therapy. In this career, you will be helping to rehabilitate patients who have sustained injuries, are recovering from surgery, or those who have had traumas--like a stroke--which affect their ability to move and perform everyday tasks. Physical therapists need never deal with the interior of the body, just its outside.

The accrediting body of the American Physical Therapy Association -- the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education -- certifies entry-level academic programs in physical therapy. In 2009, there were 212 physical-therapist training programs. Of these, 12 awarded master's degrees (generally 2- to 2½-year programs); and 200 awarded doctoral degrees, which typically take three years.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010 the median annual wages of physical therapists totaled $76,310, and those paid by the hour earned a median rate of $36.69 per hour. Employment of physical therapists is projected to grow by 30 percent from 2008 to 2018.

Dr. Law says of these career paths, "The bottom line is: If you're squeamish, there are a huge amount of disciplines within the medical field that don't involve blood and gore."

Laura Vogel is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. She has written for The Washington Post, Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living, AOL.com and TheFix.com, among other outlets. She is definitely squeamish, so was excited to learn of all the excellent careers available to people like her!

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