How to Become a Counselor

April 22, 2014

Counseling is one of the most rewarding and demanding career fields. The ability to help someone overcome adversity and have a better life is an opportunity few people can pass up, as they are able to see their patients improve physically, emotionally and even spiritually. As their clients become active members of society once again, counselors are able to truly realize the impact they are capable of having on another human being. For those who wish to become counselors, there are a number of specialties from which to choose including marriage and family counseling, vocational counseling, substance abuse counseling, Christian counseling and much more. The process one follows to become a counselor can also vary, with positions requiring anything from a high school education to a medical degree, depending upon the specialty chosen.

Types of Counselors

Become a CounselorAs stated, there are many different types of counselors in today’s world. Perhaps the most well-known counselors are family and marriage counselors, who work with individuals and families to help resolve conflict and keep marriages and families intact. Using a combination of one-on-one and group counseling, these counselors focus on helping patients overcome emotional and mental disorders that are having negative impacts on their relationships. The job of a counselor is to be an extremely good listener while helping patients develop strategies that will help them deal with the issues they are facing. Examples of problems marriage and family counselors may encounter include infidelity within a marriage, problems with in-laws and other family members, conflict between parents and children and financial issues between husbands and wives.

Vocational counselors deal with issues regarding education and career planning. Many vocational counselors work in public schools and colleges, helping students make decisions regarding their careers and working with them when conflicts emerge in or out of the classroom. Since many students entering college are unsure of what career they should choose, vocational counselors meet with them to discuss their plans. These counselors will often give career assessment tests to students, helping them determine what careers their skills are best suited for. These counselors also help students when personal problems arise that are interfering with their studies, often working with them to develop social skills that help them overcome shyness, anxiety and other problems that can have a negative impact on their classroom performance.

Substance abuse counselors provide some of the most vital services to clients. In today’s highly-competitive and demanding world, it is very easy for people of all ages to find themselves turning to alcohol, prescription drugs or illegal drugs to help them cope with various problems. However, all they accomplish by doing this is compounding whatever problems they already have. Before they know it, they are in over their heads and require professional help in order to overcome their addiction. This is where substance abuse counselors step in, using a combination of individual and group counseling to help patients kick their habits. These counselors will often work with patients for months or even years, developing very strong bonds while gaining their trust along the way. In this area of counseling perhaps more than any other, developing a strong level of trust with the patient is critical for success.

For many people who want to become counselors, it’s important that they be able to incorporate their religious faith into their counseling sessions. By becoming a Christian counselor, a counselor can help patients overcome problems by using Biblical principles and other faith-based principles. Many patients who are deeply religious and experiencing problems prefer to speak with certified Christian counselors, feeling they will have a better understanding of their problems and how to solve them. Christian counselors will deal with many different situations, which can include marriage difficulties, addiction issues, self-esteem issues related to weight gain or illness, career conflicts and much more. Many of these counselors work in private practice, although many can be found working in private religious schools and colleges. Christian counselors need to have a broad-based knowledge of various problems in order to successfully help their patients regain their lives, and are often taking courses on many different disorders to gain a better understanding of how specific Christian teachings can be used with their clients.

Educational Requirements for Counselors

The educational requirements for counselors vary almost as much as the types of problems they can expect to encounter in their practices. For most counseling positions, a Master’s degree in Counseling is required. However, that’s not the case for all counseling positions. Some counseling jobs, such as ones in local community social service agencies, require only an Associate’s degree or in some instances simply a high school education. Because the term counselor can be used to describe a variety of jobs, those working in small, local agencies may be working with clients on everything from parenting skills to job search techniques to performing better in school.

However, the majority of counseling jobs require degrees from four-year colleges and universities. To work in schools, social service agencies, hospitals or private practice it’s imperative to receive a degree from an accredited school. Before beginning classes at any school, prospective counselors need to make sure the school has accreditation that is recognized by the United States Department of Education. They should also check the requirements of any potential employer to make sure the degree they will receive has accreditation that will be recognized by that employer. In many instances, students have received degrees from schools, only to find out later on the degree is not recognized as having proper accreditation, in effect making it a worthless piece of paper.

In most counseling degree programs, students take a combination of classes in psychology, sociology, social work, criminal justice, political science and more to gain an understanding of the many factors that work together to not only create problems for people, but help them find solutions as well. Depending upon the area of specialization for a student, they may take more classes in one area than another. For example, those wishing to become school counselors will take more classes in child psychology and education, while substance abuse counselors will take more classes in biology, sociology and criminal justice to give them a better foundation for their careers. In all counseling programs, students are required to complete internships to give them practical experience dealing with patients in clinical settings. Always under the supervision of experienced counseling professionals, students spend their time observing counseling sessions, completing paperwork and eventually participating in and sometimes leading counseling sessions themselves.

Personal Attributes of Counselors

The best counselors, no matter what field in which they specialize, all share certain attributes that make them excel at their jobs. First and foremost, of course, is a genuine desire to help others overcome their problems and once again lead happy and productive lives. Counselors do not go into this line of work for the monetary rewards, but rather the rewards of seeing another human being once again flourish in their relationships, careers and other areas of life.

Another attribute that is critical to being a good counselor is the ability to listen to the client and put yourself in the person’s place. The best counselors know how to use active listening techniques to make sure they understand their client’s problems. Letting a client talk about their problems, then asking questions to make sure the problem is fully understood, help counselors gain insight and know which techniques would work best in eliminating the problem. Counselors should also be very good at conflict management, especially in situations where group counseling will come into play. Marriage and family counselors, in particular, need this skill when performing marriage counseling or other family counseling. In these situations, emotions are usually running high and everyone involved has a story to tell and are determined to be heard. The job of a counselor in these situations is to make sure everyone gets to tell their side of the story while maintaining order during the session.

The ability to have emotional stability when dealing with difficult situations is also needed by counselors. Depending upon the issues being dealt with at the time, it can be difficult to maintain objectivity and professionalism when dealing with clients. When subjects such as child abuse, sexual assault or other problems arise it is imperative counselors continue to abide by their professional laws and ethics. No matter how difficult it may be, counselors must be able to separate their personal and professional feelings while on the job. All counselors are held to a strict code of ethics when dealing with clients, including confidentiality and client-counselor relations. For example, it would be highly unethical for a counselor to date a client whom they are counseling through a divorce process, for this would be an obvious conflict of interest.

Career Outlook for Counselors

Counseling CareerFor those wishing to become counselors, the job outlook is very good. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for counselors is expected to be 29-35% between now and 2022. Some of the areas that are experiencing the strongest growth include marriage and family counselors, substance abuse counselors, rehabilitation counselors and career counselors. As the national and international economy continue to be uncertain, career counselors are finding themselves in high demand as many displaced workers seek career changes or return to school for training.

Most counseling jobs offer many positive attributes that make them highly attractive to those viewing it as a potential career. Usually having standard full-time hours, most of these jobs are 40 hours per week Monday through Friday, although some counseling jobs can require weekend, overnight or even holiday work. For those who are youth counselors or substance abuse counselors in residential treatment facilities, work schedules can include all of the above on a regular basis. However, most jobs offer excellent pay and benefits as a reward for all the hard work. Salaries for most counseling jobs average close to $45,000 per year, and include a variety of benefits including health insurance, paid vacations, tuition reimbursement for continuing education, retirement plans and more. Many jobs, particularly with school systems or government agencies, offer pension plans and opportunities for early retirement after 25 years of service.

As federal legislation has made individual health coverage mandatory, more people than ever before are expected to take advantage of the opportunity to have their counseling sessions paid for by their insurance companies. This, along with an increasing number of military veterans and active-duty personnel seeking counseling services, make this field one that shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Mental health centers, community health clinics, hospitals and other agencies will all need the services of trained counselors to meet the growing demand of those seeking their services. As the stigma of seeking mental health services continues to be lifted, more people will also be willing to seek help with problems they may otherwise have tried to handle themselves or simply ignore, hoping they would go away. Counselors with training in helping specific populations such as veterans, the elderly, displaced workers and others will be in high demand for many years to come.

So for people who are willing to invest the time and energy needed to meet the educational and employment demands of the job, being a counselor can be a career unlike any other. Each patient is a new experience, a new opportunity to help a fellow human being overcome their problems and regain self-esteem and joy in their life. Whether it is helping a person kick a drug habit, working with students to decide on career choices or listening to a military veteran describe life on the battlefield, counselors continue to make a difference each day in the lives of their patients. Using a combination of listening, compassion, knowledge and ethics counselors are able to take the skills learned in classrooms and in the field and work magic in people’s lives. And by doing so, they make the world a better place to live. If you are looking for other similar careers to consider, you may want to look into psychiatry.

How to Become a Pharmacist

March 8, 2014

Pharmacists work in medical dispensary offices to administer prescriptions ordered by physicians for patients. As a pharmacist, a professional is required to have in-depth knowledge of chemistry and how drugs will react in different human beings, as well as how drugs may interact if taken together. By measuring and packaging medicine accurately, pharmacists ensure that the dosage of the drug is safe for consumption by the patient, which allows for proper administration. While pharmacists aren’t typically allowed to prescribe or select a type of medication for a patient, they do educate the patient on how to take different medications and what type of reactions to expect. If you think you might be interested in this exciting medical career, read on to learn about how to become a pharmacist.

What Qualities Should Pharmacists Possess?

Pharmacists need to have a variety of different skills and personal traits to excel at their jobs. A preference for interaction and chemistry is a must as pharmacists must be able to communicate well but also understand the science behind the drugs that they work with. These are a list of the best qualities and skills to have as a pharmacist.

  • Analytical traits: Pharmacists have to be able to evaluate every patient’s need while also understanding the prescriber’s orders. They must have knowledge about the appropriate drugs and any side effects that must be talked about with the patient. In many cases, they also have to recognize drug-seeking behavior to prevent abuse of medication.
  • how to become a pharmacistCommunication skills: Patients always need advice on medications. They might want to understand how to take a medication or what will happen if one drug is taken at the same time as another. They need clear answers and instructions from pharmacists who understand these drugs. Pharmacists also have to direct interns and technicians in their practice.
  • Computer skills: A pharmacy is very sophisticated and has a variety of equipment to make drug creation and selection very quick. The electronic health record systems and other types of software are used every day in pharmacies to track down records and administer the right drugs.
  • Managerial skills: If a pharmacist is running a retail operation, they have to have managerial experience and be able to supervise a team of employees. They’ll have to manage inventory and oversee day-to-day operations.
  • Detail-oriented traits: The accuracy of the prescription is the most important part of being a pharmacist. Improper use of medications can pose very dangerous threats and risks to patients. Pharmacists have to find the right information to make the best decisions about medications that will help patients. It’s very dangerous otherwise.

A Closer Look: Education and Training for Pharmacists

Pharmacists must earn a Doctor of Pharmacy or Pharm.D., which is a four-year post-graduate professional degree. They also have to earn a license to practice, which requires passing two exams as well.

The educational journey for a pharmacist depends on the school you plan to attend. Some high school graduates are accepted right into 6-year programs while other students may go through two years of undergraduate study before going into a 4-year Pharm.D. programs. Others will earn a bachelor degree in a related field before applying to Pharm.D. programs, which can be highly selective.

In 2012, there were 124 Pharm.D. programs in the United States that were accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. Admission requirements for these programs vary depending on the school, but applicants are expected to have mastered chemistry, anatomy and biology. Students must pass the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) in order to be accepted into these programs.

Doctor of Pharmacy programs are rigorous and generally require three to four years of education. Program courses include pharmacology, medical ethics, chemistry and human anatomy. Students must also complete clinical work experiences or internships. Typically these are held in retail pharmacies, hospitals and other doctor’s offices.

There are also pharmacists who want to open their own pharmacy and go into business as well. In these cases, they earn a master’s degree in business administration in addition to a Pharm.D. degree. other pharmacists also choose to get a degree in public health to be better prepared for the workforce today. The choices that students make as to their final career will often decide what specialties and dual degree programs that they choose in college.

Once a student has graduated, pharmacists will go on to seek advanced positions in hospitals and pharmacies. They often look for jobs in clinics or even in research facilities. However, they must complete one to two years of residency before doing so. After completing the residency, they can get additional training in a special area such as geriatric care or internal medicine. These will enhance their abilities and make them more valuable as professionals at hospitals and pharmacies.

Becoming a Pharmacist: License and Certification

All states require pharmacists to have a license. After a student graduates with a Pharm.D., they must pass two exams in order to receive a license and start practicing. These exams are as follows:

North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX)

This is a standard test that was created by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy to ascertain if individuals were prepared for a license to practice. The typical fee for the exam is $485. NAPLEX is administered by a computer. Once a student is authorized by NABP to take the exam, students must go to an official testing facility.

NAPLEX consists of 185 questions and offers students four hours and fifteen minutes to complete. You are not allowed to backtrack during the exam and must answer questions to continue forward. The exam is mostly multiple questions, and there are no essay questions.

Questions range from beta-adrenegic receptor selectivity to vaccine knowledge in immunocompromised patients. Results are reported back to students after seven business days from administration. Applicants can check scores online at the state Board of Pharmacy. Tabulated scores of 75 or higher are required to pass, which means students must answer a little more than 60 percent of questions correctly in order to pass.

Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE)
career as a pharmacistMPJE tests applicants on pharmacy law. It was created by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy and helps state boards assess an applicant’s understanding of pharmacy law in order to practice pharmacy safely.

The MPJE has 90 questions total, but students only have to get 60 questions correct in order to pass. A score of 75 is required to pass, and the questions are fairly difficult to answer. Three major areas are covered in the test including pharmacy practice, regulatory structure and licensure.

Certification for Pharmacists
Many pharmacists can choose to get certified to show that they have an advanced level of knowledge in a particular area. Pharmacists do this to add a Certified Diabetes Educator statement to their resumes or Certification in Nutrition or Oncology to gain prestige and understanding. Typically certifications can be earned by passing an exam and paying a fee, although some may require courses and weeks of training.

Where Do Pharmacists Work?

There are a few different types of pharmacists. Deciding which role is right for you can help pick out a career path:

  • Community pharmacists: These pharmacists work in retail stores and independently run pharmacies. They administer medications and answer questions for patients who come to the store to order prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. They may also have questions for pharmacists unrelated to any prescriptions. They also provide flu shots and vaccinations.
  • Consultant pharmacists: These pharmacists work as advisers for healthcare facilities and insurance providers on patient medication use or how to improve pharmacy services. They can also give advice directly to patients.
  • Pharmaceutical industry pharmacists: These pharmacists are involved in research, development, marketing and sales. They design and manage clinical drug trials and help develop new drugs. They may also have a hand in establishing quality control and safety regulations for drugs.
  • Clinical pharmacists: These pharmacists work in clinics, hospitals and other healthcare offices. They actually spend the least amount of time administering prescriptions. Instead, they get involved with direct patient care. They do rounds with physicians. They recommend medications and oversee dosages and timing for those medications. They may also help with medical tests and give advice to patients.
  • Pharmacists typically work in grocery and drug store pharmacies, but they also work in hospitals and private clinics. However, other pharmacists will go into research and may work for laboratories at pharmaceutical companies. Collectively, pharmacists comprised almost 300,000 jobs in 2012 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The most popular place for pharmacists to work included privately owned pharmacies and drug stores while state, local and private hospitals were second.

Most pharmacists work full time. Since many pharmacies have changed to 24-hour availability, they may be expected to work at all hours of the day depending on the schedule that the pharmacy wants to keep.

A typical day for a pharmacist includes the following:

  • Filling prescriptions, verifying prescriber’s instructions on proper amount of medication to administer
  • Check medical history to determine if prescription will interact negative with other drugs prescribed to the patient
  • Answer any questions and direct patients on how to take prescriptions
  • Inform patients about potential side effects that they can experience
  • Advise patients on managing stress, exercise, diet and a number of other topics that coincide with their drug prescription
  • Administer flu shots and other vaccinations safely
  • Complete insurance documentation and work with insurance companies to ensure that patients get the medications that they need
  • Oversee technicians, interns and pharmacists in training
  • Teach other medical practitioners about proper medication therapies for patients

If you intend to own your own pharmacy, then there will also be times when you have to handle business activities and inventory management. Pharmacy owners must also go through continuing education to keep up with advances in pharmacology.

Getting the Job: Salary and Employment Outlook

As of 2012, the average annual wage for a pharmacist was over $116,000 or about $56 per hour. The highest paid pharmacists work in general merchandise stores while the lowest paid work in grocery stores and hospitals. For entry level pharmacists and those working in these settings, the pay is still about $89,000 per year. The top earners in pharmaceutical jobs earn $145,000 on average.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that pharmacist jobs will continue to rise through 2022 by 14 percent. There are several things that will contribute to the demand for pharmacists.

  • The population is growing older, which means they’ll need prescription medications.
  • Chronic disease rates are higher including diabetes. These diseases are affecting all age groups.
  • Scientific advances are creating new drugs every year.
  • More pharmacists are necessary to go along with the increasing number of hospitals and pharmacies to meet the demand for new prescriptions.
  • More people will have access to health insurance, which means they will have access to prescription drugs.

Pharmacy schools continue to grow in popularity. There are more pharmacy schools that there ever has been. It’s expected that there will be over 300,000 new jobs by 2022 for pharmacists. Students must be able to complete a residency program and also specialize in chronic diseases in order to beat out other potential pharmacists working to get the same jobs.


Becoming a pharmacist requires a lot of study and understanding of people and chemistry. It is one of the more demanding health fields because of the hours and accuracy needed by pharmacists. However, compensation and working conditions are generally favorable for pharmacists in the United States. There are also incentives for pharmacists who choose to open their own pharmacy. If you choose to work in research, you may also be able to work on the cutting edge of medical science.

How to Become a Radiologist

March 5, 2014

Working towards a career as a radiologist is an ideal way to earn a rewarding salary and help others improve their quality of life. Radiologists are physicians who make use of imaging technology to gain a greater awareness of tissues and organs that are inside the body. When a person encounters a disease or a health problem, their attending physician may want to learn more about the interior condition of organs or tissues, so they order an image using digital technology.

A radiologist is responsible for reading the images that are captured by a technician in a hospital or outpatient clinic. For this reason, a radiologist needs to have a comprehensive medical education and understand anatomy and the progression of diseases. Usually, an image is ordered by a patient’s family physician, and a radiologist reports their findings directly to the doctor who is in charge of a particular patient’s health and well-being. Radiologists may have little to no patient contact, and in today’s world of medicine, highly specialized diagnostic centers may only read medical images and report back to physicians who deal directly with patients.

Most professional radiologists use cutting-edge technology on a daily basis, and a potential candidate needs to accurately diagnose the reasons for diseases. Anyone who is interested in becoming a radiologist will have to prepare with a thorough and well-rounded science education that may include physics, anatomy and physiology. Some professionals enter the medical field as interventional radiologists, and they may also perform surgery utilizing imaging technology to guide them during a procedure.

Focusing During High School

Because radiologists need to excel while in school, it is a good idea for potential candidates to take their studies seriously during high school. Some advanced placement programs enable a student to streamline their studies, and many people leave high school with honors and credentials that enable them to earn their bachelor’s degree in four years or less. Today, some medical schools even have innovative programs that allow high school students to directly enter the a radiology program upon graduation. These programs are often known as 7-year programs because they reduce the amount of time that a radiologist or physician needs to spend enrolled in a university and medical school.

Earning a Bachelors of Science or Pre-Med Degree–Four Years of Study

become a radiologistAfter graduating from high school, a potential radiologist will need to enroll in college and concentrate on science, chemistry and biology. Most students embark on a pre-med program that is available at the majority of four-year universities. During studies, a student may need to take science courses and learn more about biology, chemistry and physics. As a pre-med student, a potential radiologist can major in a variety of different subjects, but a student will need to meet the prerequisites that are required for admission into medical school. In addition, a student can create a strong resumé and CV by volunteering in the local community or working in a nearby hospital. To enter medical school, a college graduate will need to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and have a score that is high enough to impress potential universities. During the first four years of college, students can work with their advisor and discuss the particular classes that may help a graduate prepare for the MCAT examination.

Enrolling in Medical School

After graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree in science, a potential radiologist needs to enroll in an accredited medical school and complete four years of study. While taking courses during medical schools, students can expect to learn more about the human body and gain a well-rounded education that includes information about human anatomy and physiology. Most medical schools require at least four years of study, and because the field of radiology is an intensely competitive one, potential physicians should focus on getting excellent grades and creating a well-balanced resumé.

Courses in Medical School–Four Years

During the first two years of study at a medical school, students can expect to spend their time in a classroom learning the fundamentals of the life sciences. Classes are usually held in a large setting, and students can collaborate with their peers. Introductory courses discuss anatomy in detail, and a potential physician can expect to memorize the various body parts and the different organs that are essential for human life. The final two years of medical school are usually focused on rotations in a hospital or clinical setting where potential physicians can learn medicine and healthcare in a firsthand manner while working with patients on a personal basis. After a student graduates medical school, they will receive their degree and have the title of Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)

Becoming a Radiologist

Radiology is one of the most competitive fields, and potential candidates need to set themselves apart from others by receiving good grades. In the last year of medical school, a student will need to apply for a radiology residency program that is conducted in coordination with the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). The residency is usually held in a local hospital, and a student can expect to work nearly 60 hours per week during their program. Residents may be on call during the evening or weekend and find themselves working at all hours of the night. After the residency is completed, a radiology candidate needs to complete a fellowship that may last from one to three years.

Residency Programs–Four Years

Residencies are usually conducted in a hospital or medical clinic, and a radiologist can expect to spend four years working in the field after graduating from medical school. During a residency, a future radiologist may work with a group of other residents and gain first-hand experience with today’s medical images. A resident will need to read the digital images that are sent by their employer and decide an appropriate course of treatments for a particular disease or medical condition.


Upon completion of a residency program, some radiologists further their education and start a fellowship in a field that is related to radiology. Such subsets include interventional radiology where a professional may learn how to conduct surgery using state-of-the-art imaging technology. Neuroradiology is another field that could be pursued after finishing a residency, and this subject concentrates on the effects of radiology on the nervous system and brain.

Because today’s radiologists usually work with other physicians and provide a detailed analysis about particular medical images, they may not work directly with their patients. In the past, radiologists were limited to the images that were captured on X-rays, but today’s professionals have more options to help them diagnose medical issues. A modern radiologist is expected to be able to read, analyze and interpret:

  • Ultrasound images
  • Magnetic resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
  • Nuclear imaging
  • X-ray radiography

Finding a Rewarding Job

Networking is one of the best ways to land a great job in the medical field, and radiologists may have opportunities presented to them during their residency. Working at a local hospital is one option for those who graduate from medical school, and a person who has earned their degree and obtained the education that is essential for success in the field may gain employment in the facility where they complete their residency. Other rewarding careers are available to radiologists who want to work in a large tele-radiology facility that reads images that are submitted by clients in a remote location. These careers may be accessed by working with a recruiting agency or searching through medical employment boards on the Internet. Alumni associations are another rewarding place for potential radiologists to network and learn more about employment openings that are available in a particular geographic area.

Working as a Radiologist

Radiologists are usually found behind the scenes, and a professional may not interact with their patients. Because a radiologist is responsible for reading the images that are taken by a technician, they may not meet the patient for whom they are working. A radiologist will look at the images and report their findings back to the attending physician. In certain instances, a radiologist may help prepare a patient for surgery or discuss the issues that are presented in a particular case.

Interventional Radiology

For those who prefer a hands-on working environment, interventional radiology is one option. These professionals take their knowledge and expertise directly to their patients and use their skills to treat a wide variety of medical conditions and diseases. An interventional radiologist may utilize electronic imaging to guide their instruments as they perform delicate procedures in a surgical setting. A professional may need to remove malignant tumors or insert catheters. With a growing increase in medical technology, interventional radiologists are on the cutting edge, and they may offer their patients treatments that are minimally invasive to speed the recovery process.

Those who enjoy the intellectual challenge of medicine may find that radiology is a rewarding career. The field is constantly advancing, and new technology is continually entering the field. Radiologists need to accurately interpret studies and utilize their critical thinking skills to diagnose the particular problems that a patient may encounter.

Career Opportunities

radiologist careerWhile many of today’s radiologists find employment in local hospitals or outpatient centers, many are enjoying the benefits of the digital technology that facilitates remote medicine. Today, a radiologist can practice in any location that has the proper imaging equipment and connectivity. In addition, telemedicine enables radiologists to consult with others and facilitates consultations around the world.

Certification and Licensing

Obtaining a state license is an essential component of landing a career as a radiologist, and most employers mandate that candidates are board certified. To gain board certification, a radiologist will need to pass an examination that covers the education that has been learned during medical school. The test includes two parts, and students need to show their proficiency in anatomy and imaging modalities. Radiology is one of the most competitive fields, and potential candidates need to perform in the top of their class. In addition to understanding modern medical diagnoses and treatments, a radiologist needs to have a well-rounded education that includes an in-depth understanding of math and modern physics.

Advancing in the Field

Radiologists are known for the impressive salaries that they earn, and many choose to advance through the ranks by taking hours and lifestyles that are suited to their lifestyle. During the beginning part of a career, a radiologist may find that they need to work weekends and evening hours. As a professional gains tenure in their field, they may be able to reduce the demand to work odd hours and find a position that is during the normal working week.


Radiologists are among the best-paid physicians. During a residency, a student can expect to earn between $42,000 and $58,000 per year. This amount varies according to different geographical areas and the size of an employer. After a radiologist has completed their residency requirements, an entry-level physician can expect to earn about $275,000 annually. The salary varies with a particular employer, and those who work in academic centers and teaching hospitals may earn a little less than peers who are employed in a private practice. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for radiologists is $380,000 per year. For those who work as an interventional radiologist, the earnings are even higher, and a professional can expect to bring in nearly $500,000 per year.

The demand for new radiologists is beginning to slow just a bit, but plenty of opportunities are currently available. There has recently been a tremendous shortage of trained professionals, and many radiologists are expanding their education to benefit from the lucrative salaries that may be earned while working as an interventional radiologist. In addition, rural areas may have a dramatic shortage of trained professionals, but this situation is starting to change as the medical field benefits from changes in digital technology and telemedicine.

How to Become a Pediatrician

March 2, 2014

A pediatrician is a doctor who specializes in the treatment of children, or any patient under the age of 18. Working with young people can lead to an extremely rewarding career. However, as with any career in the medical profession, pediatrics also requires a great deal of emotional stamina. Becoming a pediatrician can take quite a toll on the mind and body. Rigorous medical training and long nights in lonely hospitals await you if you choose to follow this path.

However, the ultimate pay-off is well worth it to most who walk this road all the way to the end.

Start in High School

Most people don’t know what they want to be when they’re 18. Some don’t even know when they’re 40. However, if you want to be a doctor, you must begin your education with a high school diploma. It is an essential component to entering a four-year university, which is the next step to becoming a pediatrician.

Those who know they want to become doctors as early as high school wisely invest their time in studying biology, chemistry, and physics. They know that the classes they take at this point will become the building blocks of their future knowledge.

Completing a GED or other equivalent is an acceptable alternative to a high school diploma. Any degree that will grant access to a four-year university should do. There is, however, no substitute for studying the hard sciences.

Graduate from a Four-Year University

When choosing a four-year university for pediatric studies, you should consider these criteria.

  • Academic strength of the institution
  • Rigors of the pre-med program
  • On-campus resources, or off-campus access to resources
  • Volunteer opportunities available to students

Attending a university with a strong academic record will surround you with other sharp minds. Learning in an environment full of smart people challenges and hones your ability to think and adapt to intellectual problems.

how to become a pediatricianMore important than the people in your university is your university’s specialization. A university known for its scientific programs will benefit you more than a liberal arts college with only one chemistry professor to its name. A well-rounded pre-med program will know how to train its students to ace the MCAT and ascend to medical school.

Along with the existence of a pre-med program, your university must have access to useful academic resources. Find out the condition of the on-campus labs, and the content of the libraries. Know whether your university has an agreement with nearby medical facilities to allow its students early access and extra training.

Finally, a truly well-prepared campus will connect its students with volunteer opportunities that will boost their chances of getting into med school later on down the line.

Select Potential Medical Schools

You must choose your medical school with the same exacting interest you applied to choosing your undergraduate school. Thankfully, a well-equipped pre-med program will provide you with access to professors or counselors who can help you find schools that fit your strengths and interests.

You should consider the following when selecting which medical schools to apply to:

  • Departments and specialties
  • Medical facilities
  • Teaching methods
  • Location and cost

As with your undergraduate university, your medical school should have an excellent record of training in your field of interest, namely, pediatrics. Pediatrics is a common field, and so offered at the majority of medical schools, but some schools will have a better reputation for it than others. Learn more about the specialties of professors on the faculty. Working with someone whose research mirrors your interests not only ensures a high-caliber education for you, it makes you more appealing to the school.

Also research the school’s medical facilities, and its relationship with off-campus medical institutions. Having top-of-the-line facilities now is even more crucial than having good labs on your undergraduate campus. These facilities will prepare you for your residency, and your career. You need access to well-managed, well-supplied laboratories and hospitals.

Another thing to be aware of is that medical schools vary greatly in their curriculum design. Many employ weekly lectures alongside seminars and practicums. Others dispose of lectures almost entirely, and favor problem-based learning teams where students gather together to solve case files as a team. Other schools may offer a combination of the two. Consider your own learning style, and where you would best fit as a student.

You must also think about the school’s location, as well as its cost. Both of these will affect your daily life while you are in school. These days, many medical students graduate with an astounding amount of debt. Find out which schools offer scholarships that could apply to you, and which offer financial aid. Know the cost-of-living in the surrounding area.

Get into Medical School

Getting into medical school is no walk in the park. You have to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), a brutal standardized test notorious for its difficulty. However, with a solid pre-med background from your university, you should be able to walk away from this test with a smile on your face.

The MCAT is a multiple choice test. It has three sections that cover physical sciences, biological sciences, and verbal reasoning. Preparation for this test should begin months in advance of your actual test date. Methods of preparation include buying a test preparation book, hiring a tutor, taking practice exams, and attending MCAT prep courses. At this point, avoid thinking of your fellow pre-med students as competitors. Embrace them as comrades and helpful learning tools. Study with each other to improve your scores.

Keep in mind that the MCAT isn’t the only measure of your worth, as far as med schools are concerned. Your application will also include letters of reference from your professors and other professionals, as well as personal essays in answer to questions that depend on the institution. Finally, you will also have to attend interviews at interested institutions. Dress smart, prepare yourself, and do your research on each school’s expectations.

Beat the Rigors of Medical School

Once you’ve been accepted into various medical schools and chosen the one that fits you best, you can shift gears. Instead of thinking about how to best present yourself to gain acceptance, you can turn your attentions to what truly matters, i.e. becoming a better doctor.

In medical school, you will be responsible for acquiring an enormous volume of medical knowledge. You will be tested frequently with exams the likes of which you’ve never before encountered. Some of these tests will occur in your school, while some of them are standardized national exams. The constant testing breeds a competitive atmosphere, which many students find overwhelming and stressful.

However, if you’ve been accepted into a school, the school expects that you will be able to succeed in its curriculum. Be prepared for a tough education, but remind yourself that you’ll live through it.

Focus on Your Concentrations

All medical students are required to undergo the same basic training. No matter what your later specialty will be, you are expected to master the same general material. The general nature of this material does not make it easy to acquire, nor does it mean it’s useless. Far from it. As a pediatrician, you will deal with a wide range of symptoms and afflictions. As such, your knowledge-base must cover all the relevant topics.

Of course, you should also begin to focus on your concentration now. While you will not be expected to select your specialization at the beginning of your medical school career, making that selection early on enables you to take advantage of more specific opportunities.

Seek Research and Internship Opportunities

The number one way to advance your personal knowledge of the field is to seek out research and internship opportunities. These jobs–and they are jobs–will give you tremendous insight into dimensions of pediatrics that you would not otherwise be able to grasp.

A research opportunity will allow you to study a specific question in-depth. It may even give you the chance to contribute meaningful knowledge to your field. While as a pediatrician you may be more interested in treatment than in research, spending time in a laboratory may give you a different perspective. Specializing in pediatric research is a valuable and worthwhile career. Even if you leave with no interest in further research, the expertise you garner from the experience will prove invaluable later in life.

An internship has more obvious and palpable returns. Internships teach you the ins and outs of particular jobs, showing you all the rigors of daily life as a pediatrician in the specific conditions for which you intern. Being able to see and interact with patients will provide the stepping stones to the development of your bedside manner, an especially important trait for pediatricians.

Both research and internships are also excellent networking and mentor-ship opportunities. Building relationships with already established doctors will help you find a job after you graduate, as will developing a close student-teacher relationship with particular doctors.

Complete Your Residency

After the fourth year of medical school, you must apply to a residency. Residencies are widely considered the most challenging step on the path to becoming a doctor. Between long hours, little sleep, and learning the ropes, you may find yourself tipping toward crawling into a medical closet and hoping no one comes to find you. But you’ve come this far. The end is just around the corner.

Pediatrics residencies are three years long. Your residency must be certified by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Examination (ACGME) or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). As this is your final, greatest step in becoming a pediatrician, you will finally learn every aspect of hands-on pediatric treatment. Over the three years of your residency, you will gain competency and earn more and more responsibilities.

Become Board Certified

Once you have completed your residency, you must become a board-certified pediatrician in order to practice, whether you intend to work at a hospital or open your own practice. You may become certified with either the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) or the American Osteopathic Board of Pediatrics (ABOP). You must acquire this certification within seven years of completing your pediatrics residency. It must also be maintained and renewed – the studying doesn’t stop once you become a doctor!

Choose Your Path, Round 2

On your way to becoming a fully certified pediatrician you will have been exposed to a number of different careers within the field. You will have met researchers, pediatric oncologists, pediatric cardiologists, pediatric surgeons, and general practitioner pediatricians employed both privately and in hospitals. By this time, you will have acquired your practical specialties, so your choice is a matter of where rather than what to practice.

Many pediatricians desire their own private practice. They find the thought of independent employment appealing, knowing they will set their own hours and acquire an intimate relationship with their client base. However, the cost of starting such a business is high, so many pediatricians end up remaining with their hospitals even after their residencies.

Staying with a hospital also guarantees a steady flow of patients who require your specific skill set. This stands especially true for pediatricians who have specialized in fields of oncology or cardiology, as the equipment for diagnosis and treatment may be prohibitively expensive to acquire for an independent doctor.

Regardless of where a pediatrician chooses to set up their practice, they are guaranteed to be able to provide service. Unlike other fields, health care remains recession proof. Everyone requires medical attention, and there will always be children.

Prepare yourself for this exhausting but rewarding career by starting early in your studies, mentally preparing yourself for the rigors of your work, and looking forward to the day you become a licensed pediatrician. And in the meantime, enjoy this awesome video of a day in the life of the average pediatrician!

How to Become a Chiropractor

January 29, 2014

The Chiropractor is often the doctor of choice when it comes to back and muscle pain. According to the American Chiropractic Association, as much as 80% of Americans will experience some form of back problem in their lifetime. One-half of all working Americans will admit to having back pain symptoms annually. It is the most common reason for missing work as well as a visit to the doctor’s office.

Sports injuries, bone loss, and arthritis are often the biggest culprits with pain. As a result, there is an increasing demand for quality pain relief. There is also increasing costs estimated at $50 billion per year. Given these statistics, there is definitely a demand for the profession to develop quality candidates.

The Road to Licensing and Education

Choosing a program of study is the most important component to becoming a Chiropractor. There are over 60,000 active chiropractic licenses in the United States. Chiropractic is also the largest and most regulated of all complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) professions. The school should focus on accreditation and professional continuing education. There are a few governing bodies in the Chiropractic profession:

American Chiropractic Association

The ACA (American Chiropractic Association) is the largest professional organization in the profession. The prestige of this organization is the exhaustive list of continuing education opportunities, conferences, and medical reports. Membership is available for both students and practicing doctors. As a result, this organization is a great choice to network and develop a deeper understanding of the profession.

The Council on Chiropractic Education

become chiropractorThe CCE (Council on Chiropractic Education) is the governing institution that ensures standards are in place for schools of Chiropractic training. The importance of quality education was ensured for protecting the profession and patients. It is important to find a school with this certification. Schools with this licensing have the support of a task force that ensures quality training and updated medical knowledge.

The road to becoming a Chiropractor starts with early education. Prospective students will need to obtain a high school diploma and focus early on requirements for school requirements at the undergraduate level. Requirements vary from school to school, but there is a safe consensus of requirements that all students should focus on at the university level:

Minimum 3.0 GPA or better of the latter semester credits

Although this is the minimum requirement, a higher GPA may be necessary to gain a competitive edge in certain schools. Most schools focus on the last 90 credit hours of coursework. Having a strong edge in coursework will be important.

Basic life science and physical science coursework

Courses often include Chemistry and Biology with lab. Chemistry courses should include organic and inorganic components. Some schools may have a requirement for Biochemistry with lab. Consulting with individuals graduate schools in advance will help to determine the amount of coursework in the life sciences that will be needed. Schools of Chiropractic Studies will usually maintain a strong western medical background

Emphasis on medical coursework

To gain a competitive edge, undergraduate coursework in anatomy and physiology will provide an edge in the admission process. A carry-over from medical coursework in pre-medicine emphasis is often helpful. In addition to the life sciences, courses that cross over into pre-medicine, nursing, and radiography are now important in pre-chiropractic studies.

Specialization and Differentiation

Chiropractic school follows a basic time length similar to medical school. This usually lasts four years but may take additional time if they wish to add any specialization outside Chiropractic to their practice. A specialization may or may not be in the graduate program. Some of these specializations include:

Joint Master’s or Certification in Public Health

With an aging population, many schools are placing emphasis on community health and growing concerns over back and muscle fatigue. Adding an emphasis in public health is becoming more common with all areas of the medical profession. Chiropractic care has dispelled many of the stereotypes of the profession and is reaching more of the population at large. Americans will be working longer into their ‘golden years’, requiring more medical treatment to reduce fatigue and pain.

Adding a master’s or certification will give the potential Chiropractor the additional advantage of community based knowledge. A private practice often deals with a large section of the population and an understanding of systemic problems as well as global trends is beneficial. An additional advanced certification will also be beneficial to the Chiropractor adding staff in the CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) field.

Board certification

Obtaining a history of quality patient care and continuing education should be on the mind of your chiropractic studies. The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners maintains all of the board certifications available for specialization. The main board certification is in four parts with additional testing in Acupuncture and assessments in clinical competency. There are also medical publications available as a source of knowledge for both current and potential Chiropractors.

The emphasis on board certification came as the result of more demand on chiropractic skills as well as legitimizing the profession further. The highly controlled aspects of Chiropractic care are requiring more standards-based education methods and testing to ensure candidates achieve quality instruction.

Veterinary certification

Humans are not the only breed to gain therapeutic benefit from muscle and spine pain. Veterinary certification is quickly becoming popular in Chiropractic Schools. Veterinary clinics that are larger will often house an on-call staff member who is a chiropractor additional clinical requirements as well as seasoned experience may be required.

Joint Master’s and certification in acupuncture treatment

As more patients view medical care with an emphasis on holistic care and a wellness approach, Chiropractic care is quickly becoming a mediator between other legitimate alternative therapy gaining traction in the medical community. Many larger wellness-oriented and naturopathic programs are finding their way into larger university programs. There are state and national boards available for testing.

In addition to board certifications, prospective students will also need to tap into resources to offset the cost of school. The average cost of chiropractic education is between $60,000-100,000. There are a variety of fellowship and scholarship opportunities available to offset the cost. Most schools provide a mix of merit, departmental, and endowed scholarships to potential students. State licensing boards also provide certification to potential students.

Job Requirements and Demands

Chiropractor Examines CT ScanMost Chiropractic schools place an emphasis on whole care and practical clinicals throughout the program. This gives the student a chance to find the specialty that will align with their career goals. Job shadowing early in your undergraduate years in different Chiropractic settings will allow you to gain an understanding of what to focus on in school.

Chiropractors serve to analyze and assess the health of the spine and nervous system. They check the functions of these systems in order to make adjustments to restore natural order and remove any interference. Much of this care is placed under correcting misalignments in the vertebrae of the spine.

The biochemical and physical structure of the spine is differentiated between each patient. In a typical day, the Chiropractor may perform alignments, prescribe exercises to perform at home, and other therapies to reduce pain. Chiropractors often use various objects for therapy as massage and manipulation for specific spots of treatment.

Skills for the Modern Chiropractor

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for Chiropractors is faster than average at 15%.. A great majority are self employed in private practice. As a result, there is a great demand to differentiate the practice by including additional services and specializations. There are several skills that would benefit the potential Chiropractor:

Healthy lifestyle promotion

Chiropractors will need to participate in a large wealth of knowledge to better assess their community and practice. Healthy lifestyle promotion is emphasized from start to finish in most medical programs in the United States and Internationally.

Ability to research and educate

An adept Chiropractor will need to be able to research upcoming medical news and make opinions based on their background. This research starts at the undergraduate level and continues well into the practice of the Chiropractor. There are several journals available:

Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics

This journal is a professional journal with emphasis on the American Chiropractic Association. It is the most commonly researched journal in academia.

Journal of Chiropractic Medicine

This journal is published on a quarterly basis and applies practical evidence and applications for the modern Chiropractor. The emphasis is on the advancement of the profession.

Journal of Chiropractic Humanities

Scholarly debate is important in any profession. The Journal of Chiropractic Humanities. is a peer-reviewed journal that focuses on the humanities aspect of the profession. It features dialogue and opinions on breaking topics. This is an excellent resource for potential students to see what is currently being debated in the field.

American Chiropractor

American Chiropractor is a popular magazine that is available to the public as well as chiropractic professionals. Articles feature stories in practice management, rehabilitation, interviews, and nutrition facts. Many of the emerging stories and articles are highly emergent with guest stores in technology and interviews with pioneering professionals.

Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy

This journal is an international peer-reviewed journal that is dedicated to academic training and the advancement of knowledge in therapeutic techniques. Each issue features guest editors, thesis reviews, and abstracts from current literature.

Alternative Medicine Review

Although there are excellent peer-reviewed journals available to the Chiropractor, there are also good models available for the Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) field. The Alternative Medicine Review is a peer-reviewed journal that focuses on high-impact and clinically relevant articles associated to the field. The magazine is an excellent source for the budding Chiropractor to understand the connection between fields.

Critical thinking skills

The ability to be adaptable to immerse some eastern medicine with western medical models. Chiropractors will need to make decisions on individuals cases with patients based on a variety of assessments. Critical thinking carries over in all areas of the profession. Chiropractors will need to develop these critical skills over time as well. With manipulation and assessment, there is a great deal of understanding on the whole body system. This requires critical skills in comparison and forming analysis in assessments as well as a new breadth of knowledge every so often.

Excellent communication skills

Chiropractors will be communicating with staff, patients, and attending a variety of continuing education conferences. Excellent communication is critical for developing a good rapport with patients and staff. It is also a critical component in this profession to gain insight into pain and discomfort. Back and muscle pain exists on a spectrum of pain that often requires in depth communication to better describe it to a physician. Many patients are referred to a Chiropractor for this very reason. Pain can be a very difficult item to assess with limited communication.


Chiropractors are adapting to rapid changes in the medical community. Job roles are not always prescribed initially as a new graduate. You may be starting your career in a medical hospital or providing home health services. There is a huge amount of variety to the modern chiropractic profession.

A sense of business for a base in maintaining a thriving practice will require the use of excellent business knowledge. Students should take business courses at the undergraduate level to maintain a breadth of knowledge. Some of the more successful practices continue to use the best business models available.

In summary, the potential Chiropractor will need to realize that admission requirements are now just as strict as many medical schools. The requirements allow students to add joint degrees and programs that enhance the profession. This level of autonomy makes a Chiropractor in high demand as time goes on. There is now great support in the community and the emphasis in wellness prevention is making chiropractic care an excellent option for a career. Physicians are referring their patients for additional care to a quality Chiropractor. A quality practice will be able to thrive when the chiropractic student is able to interpret the skills needed to excel.

How to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

January 29, 2014

In today’s fast-paced and patient-centered medical field, certified nursing assistants, also known as CNAs, are in high demand. CNAs are employed in doctor’s offices, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, private homes and in adult daycares. These patient-care liaisons are essential in ensuring that patients receive adequate care in busy medical settings by assisting nurses working on the patient’s cases. There are several steps one must successfully complete prior to being hired as a certified nursing assistant.

What is a CNA?

A certified nursing assistant is responsible for assisting with patients or clients who have healthcare needs. CNAs are supervised by registered nurses (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). A certified nursing assistant is also called a CNA, patient care assistant (PCA), nursing assistant (NA) or state tested nurse aid (STNA).

CNAs are responsible for fulfilling basic needs of patients that improve quality of life. These responsibilities may include information-gathering tasks, such as taking vital signs, monitoring patient temperature, ordering blood tests and relaying this information to nurses or physicians. They are also responsible for providing bedside care to patients who have been anesthetized or who have a disability that makes toileting, bathing, eating or drinking difficult.

become a CNACNAs may also be required to administer medications, perform catheterizations, administer suppositories and enemas, irrigate wounds or give patient massages. They are responsible for cleaning and sanitizing all patient-care areas, applying clean dressings or bandages to wounds and documenting patient behavior, symptoms, complaints and concerns.

Certified nursing assistants care for both males and females of all ages, including infants, children, adults and the elderly. They may work in residential nursing care facilities, outpatient clinics, hospitals, nursing homes or even in private homes. CNAs can expect to work a variety of hours, including days, nights, weekends and holidays as needed.

What Characteristics do CNAs Need?

Working as a certified nursing assistant is a demanding job that requires close attention to detail. CNAs must be excellent listeners, exhibit outstanding communication skills and be detail-oriented in order to accurately and efficiently relay patient information to the nurses. They must also be able to relay any information from nurses and physicians back to the patient in a compassionate and understanding manner. Many patients may be confused, scared or have a difficult time understanding a diagnosis or care instructions. It is important that CNAs can remain patient and have the ability to explain instructions in a variety of ways in order to ensure the patient understands what will happen.

The duties of a certified nursing assistant involve keeping a patient relaxed, calm, informed and comfortable. While some of the duties, such as helping a patient with toileting needs or cleaning wounds, may not be particularly pleasant for the CNA, successful certified nursing assistants must be able to carry out these duties without becoming nauseated or visibly uncomfortable or disturbed. CNAs must have a strong desire to help patients understand their treatment, be comfortable in distressing, frightening or painful situations. They must also be genuinely concerned about the well-being of others.

Certified nursing assistants may be required to work in very stressful situations and must be able to remain calm and patient, even in situations where patients are visibly anxious. Being empathic and compassionate can help put patients at ease. Maintaining composure in crisis situations is essential.

The hours a CNA works can be long with very few breaks. Because of this, certified nursing assistants must have the endurance to see and care for many patients in a short period of time. They must also have the ability to stay on their feet for long shifts.

Education and Training

Becoming a certified nursing assistant does not require a college degree or extensive training that would be expected of registered nurses or physicians. Because a degree is not required, being a CNA can be an excellent first job or may provide an income for one seeking to pay for a college education in order to enter a higher-paying medical career in the future. It is also a great choice for someone looking to change careers or enter the workforce after an extended absence.

It is required that a certified nursing assistant first earn a high school diploma or a GED before pursuing a career as a CNA. The next step is to enroll in a certification program. Some CNA certification programs can be taken online for individuals who may not be able to attend traditional courses due to family, school or job responsibilities. There are also traditional programs offered by colleges, universities or organizations such as the American Red Cross.

CNA certification courses are often taught by registered nurses. The first course is typically a patient care course that offers information on the duties and responsibilities of certified nursing assistants. Students learn to take vital signs, insert catheters, bathe patients and feed patients. Students also learn medical ethics and healthcare laws. This program is typically approximately 75 hours in length.

After the first course is completed, students typically will enroll in an externship that occurs in a clinical setting. In this course, students learn through hands-on experiences. Students will work in hospitals, medical clinics or nursing homes and will be given opportunities to practice the skills and knowledge learned in the first course. Students in the externship are usually supervised by a licensed nurse or physician. It is usually required that at least 16 hours of direct clinical experience is completed prior to certification. The clinical portion may also include CPR and first aid training.

In some cases, nursing homes or healthcare facilities will offer free training or will even pay the student to complete training. In exchange for training, the student will be required to not only complete the clinical supervised training in that facility but will also be required to work in that facility for a certain amount of time following certification. In exchange, the facility provides free classes and training, and in some cases facilities will even pay the costs associated with the certification examination. Another advantage is that the courses and on-the-job-training in these organizations can be completed in weeks instead of the months that would be required if classes were taken at a community college or through the American Red Cross. This means that one can be certified and earning a full salary in much less time, while also having a guaranteed employment option.

While direct training by an employer can be quick, convenient and less expensive, there are advantages to taking CNA certification courses through community colleges or the American Red Cross. These courses may take up to six months and cost between $300 and $600 to complete. However, the training may also be more comprehensive and prepare the future CNA to work in multiple types of settings, whereas the employer-based training may prepare you to work only in one specific clinical setting.

Certification Examinations

Following the completion of both the educational and the clinical components of training, students must successfully pass certification examinations before working as a certified nursing assistant. The items tested are based on information learned during both parts of training. One test is written and covers the student’s knowledge on patient care, medical ethics, healthcare laws, first aid practices and human development over the lifespan. Course instructors may be able to provide practice tests in order to help the student study for the test.

The second portion of the certification test covers knowledge and practices in a clinical setting. In this part of the test, students engage in patient caregiving and are observed by examiners. Students are tested on important aspects of patient care, including blood draw techniques, taking temperatures and blood pressure, monitoring vital signs, communicating with medical care providers, bathing the patient and transferring the patient from one area to another.

During the clinical certification test, it is important that students follow all patient safety measures as examiners will be assessing the student’s ability to keep patients safe. Some of these measures include raising bed rails, locking wheelchairs, hand washing, wearing clean gloves and making sure that patients have access to communication devices. Students are also assessed on the ability to maintain the privacy and dignity of patients by knocking on doors, closing privacy curtains and making the appropriate introductions to patients. Finally, the clinical certification test may also assess the student’s ability to maintain composure in stressful situations, be patient with difficult clients and follow appropriate procedures for contact with bodily fluids.

Once the educational, clinical and testing portions of training are complete, the student may then receive certification. This certification allows the student to work as a certified nursing assistant in any clinical setting.

Finding a Job as a Certified Nursing Assistant

Certified Nursing AssistantsToday’s healthcare industry is fast-paced and busy. Many organizations are looking for ways to operate efficiently and cost-effectively without sacrificing the quality of patient care. As a result, many of the responsibilities for basic quality-of-life care that were traditionally held by nurses are now falling on the shoulders of nursing assistants. As a result, there is a quickly-increasing demand for qualified certified nursing assistants.

In addition to the changing financial situations of many healthcare organizations, the population in the United States is quickly aging. There are also significant numbers of individuals who have survived severe injury or illness and now require long-term care. The number of individuals requiring nursing home or long-term rehabilitation care has increased at a far greater rate than the rate of individuals entering those career fields. As a result, there is a severe shortage of direct-care professionals in the healthcare industry. More nursing homes, clinics and hospitals are hiring certified nursing assistants in order to meet this quickly increasing demand, allowing those organizations to treat more patients in a shorter amount of time, and at a lower overall cost.

Because of this increased demand, many areas of the country have ample job openings for trained and qualified CNAs. Prospective employees should decide what type of healthcare environment they have the desire and experience to work in. CNAs can seek out employment opportunities with local nursing homes, hospitals, outpatient clinics, rehabilitation facilities, public health departments and physician’s offices.

For many CNAs the first place to to check for job openings is the facility which offered either the certified nursing assistant’s training or externship. These organizations may either be hiring recent trainees or may have contact information for local organizations that are seeking to hire new certified nursing assistants. The contacts made during the training and externship process can be extremely valuable in helping the new certified nursing assistant find a long-term position.

Another good place to check is the CNAs own physician’s office or local hospital. These places are likely to be ones that the certified nursing assistant has already developed a good relationship with, making it more likely that the healthcare organization will be willing to hire a newly certified CNA. In addition, certified nursing assistants can send resumes and qualification information to all local healthcare and nursing care organizations. Checking newspaper classified advertisements or online job posting boards may also help develop new leads for employment opportunities.

Becoming a certified nursing assistant is not a lengthy process as compared with the education and training procedures required for registered nurses or physicians. However, the training can be demanding and rigorous. CNAs can begin training soon after earning a high school diploma or GED, making this a wonderful first job for someone interested in entering the medical field. It may provide an excellent opportunity for training and networking for future physicians or registered nurses. It is also a wonderful job opportunity for those seeking career changes or reentry into the workforce.

While the training may be rigorous and the duties less-than-glamourous, a career as a certified nursing assistant can be very rewarding. This in-demand career fills a huge and urgent need in today’s medical field for qualified professionals who focus on the well-being and quality of life for patients facing significant medical issues or long-term care needs.

Top 25 Highest Paying Medical Jobs

December 24, 2013

The aging population is creating a career boom in the medical industry. There is a growing need for dedicated professionals that wish to have a satisfying career assisting patients with health issues.

Specialty fields are among the highest paying jobs in this category. Salary ranges depend on the level of education, specialized training and work experience.

Here are the best paid medical positions with median salaries:

Surgeon ($342,000)

Sitting at the top of the list are surgeons. This is an exciting and challenging skill that requires mental clarity, physical stamina, curiosity, creativity and specialization in a specific area. It takes years of medical school training and hands-on experience to reach the required level of competency. Surgeons are always on call to do complex procedures that greatly affect lives.

Anesthesiologist ($340,000)

The anesthesiologist is trained to alleviate pain through the use of anesthesia. It involves the administration and monitoring of drugs during surgical procedures.

Obstetrician/Gynecologist ($252,000)

Bringing babies into the world and ensuring their healthy survival is a rewarding task for the obstetrician. A gynecologist specializes in women’s health issues. They conduct health screenings and fertility treatments.

Oral Surgeon ($250,400)

An oral surgeon routinely does dental extractions. They also do complex surgery that involves jaw line reconstruction.

Psychiatrist ($199,000)

A psychiatrist provides specialized psychotherapy treatment for all sorts of mental and emotional problems. They also prescribe medications to alleviate symptoms of mental depression, schizophrenia and other conditions.

Podiatrist ($177,500)

Podiatrists deal with disorders that affect the foot, leg or ankle. They treat minor issues such as calluses, as well as, major injuries and deformities.

General Practitioner ($173,100)

highest paying medical jobsMany communities are in need of a general practitioner. This position is also known as a family doctor. A general practitioner performs annual checkups, administers shots and cares for the general well-being of patients.

Dentist ($150,200)

The dentist is responsible for the oral health of patients. Regular duties include examinations, teeth cleanings, treatment of cavities and tooth replacement.

Prosthodontist ($138,000)

A prosthodontist creates, restores or repairs crowns, bridges, dentures and dental veneers.

Orthodontist ($127,600)

It is the orthodontist’s job to fix crooked teeth, which usually involves providing braces for patients.

Physician Internist ($120,000)

The internist focuses solely on diagnosing and treating diseases affecting internal organs such as the liver, kidneys, spleen and glands.

Pharmacist ($119,700)

A pharmacist is responsible for dispensing prescribed medications to patients. They are required to have a basic understanding about various drugs, possible side effects, recommended dosages and be able to answer drug related questions.

Physician Assistant ($92,300)

The physician assistant works closely with doctors and helps with physical examinations, medication, counseling and other delegated duties.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer ($85,000)

This job entails operating ultrasound equipment for diagnostic purposes.

Physical Therapist ($77,800)

Physical therapists are trained to rehabilitate the bodies of severely injured patients.

Occupational Therapist ($78,700)

An occupational therapist helps injured workers recover from physical injury.

Radiation Therapist ($75,000)

Radiation therapists often work with cancer patients getting radiation treatments. They work closely with a team of technical specialists.

Orthotist and Prosthetist ($73,000)

Change lives by restoring lost limbs due to birth defects, disease or injury. Fit patients for prosthetic limbs and other replacement parts.

Audiologist ($72,200)

The audiologist evaluates patients for hearing loss and administers appropriate hearing aid devices.

Speech and Language Pathologist ($72,000)

Countless people struggling with issues such as stuttering, birth defects and stroke recovery need speech and language therapy. This position involves working closely with patients helping them develop their language skills.

Nuclear Medicine Technologist ($71,800)

People with a scientific mind do well in this position. A nuclear medical technologist operates radioactive equipment and administers radioactive drugs to patients. Intimate knowledge of scanning machines and scientific elements is required.

Registered Nurse ($67,900)

Registered nurses assist doctors in a wide variety of fields. This position can be both challenging and rewarding. Nurses are very dedicated to the care of patients. Some work in very high-stress environments. Nurses who specialize earn more.

Dental Hygienist ($66,700)

The job of the dental hygienist is to assist the dentist with teeth cleaning and the general dental hygiene needs of patients.

Radiologic Technologist and Technician ($64,000)

This is a technical specialty that involves diagnosing health issues using CAT scans and X-ray equipment.

Safety and Occupational Health Specialist ($61,000)

Protect the health and safety of workers by becoming a specialist that analyzes, evaluates and enforces safety procedures. Design safety programs for businesses in specific industries.

The medical profession offers a vast range of jobs with high earning potential. Opportunities for employment are strong and continue to grow as more people reach an age where they require treatment. Each position requires advanced education and some amount of specialized training.

Top Paying Medical Careers

December 21, 2013

Everyone knows that medical careers can be lucrative. Not only do they command high salaries, but the entire medical field is rapidly growing. This is one industry that is sure to expand regardless of economic conditions. With this in mind, let’s have a look at the top paying medical careers. We will look at some careers that require a medical degree as well as some that you can enter with less education.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Anesthesiologists earned more than any other medical professionals in 2012, with annual salaries averaging at over $230,000 per year.

Anesthesiologists are highly trained medical doctors who are responsible for the care of patients facing surgery. This includes the time before, during and following surgical procedures. While other medical practitioners are also involved in this process, anesthesiologists are the most extensively trained to supervise in these situations.

This profession requires a medical degree. Those interested in this field who aren’t interested in earning a medical degree can consider becoming an anesthesiologist assistant or technician.


top paying medical careersSurgeons are another very well paid type of medical professional, also averaging more than $230,000 per year. There are many different kinds of surgery. Some surgeons practice general surgery, while others specialize in a particular type.

As medical doctors, surgeons must complete around eight years of schooling, including undergraduate degree and medical school. Surgeons are among the hardest working of medical professionals, usually working 50 to 60 hour work weeks. This is also a branch of medicine that can be very challenging, though rewarding as well.


Psychiatrists are among the best paid professionals in the mental health field, earning on average over $175,000 per year. Unlike psychologists, psychiatrists must earn a medical degree. Psychiatry is actually one of the oldest medical specialties, and the American Psychiatric Association was formed in 1844.

A psychiatry may use any number of treatments and modalities to treat mental health conditions. They may employ techniques such as psychotherapy, prescribe medications or recommend hospitalization for patients. There are many specialties within psychiatry, and someone entering this field may choose to specialize in areas such as addiction, child psychology, organizational psychiatry, or forensic psychiatry, which is involved with the criminal justice system.

Read our in depth guide on becoming a psychiatrist here.


Dentistry is another essential medical profession that is always in demand. While the median salary for a dentist in the U.S. is around $150,000, many dentists earn in excess of $200,000 per year.

There are many specialties within dentistry, such as pediatric dentistry, orthodontics, periodontics and oral surgery. The educational requirements for becoming a dentist are similar to those required to earn other types of medical degrees. First a bachelor’s degree must be obtained, then you must go to dental school, which typically takes four years.

Those interested in the dental field can also pursue other careers that require less education, such as dental assistant or dental hygienist.

The above are a few of the highest paying medical careers that require a medical degree. Yet there are also quite a few lucrative careers that one can enter without going to medical school. These careers typically require a bachelor’s degree.

Medical Perfusionists

This medical career, which many people have never even heard of, is one of the best paying health care careers that does not require a medical degree. Perfusionists are specialists who operate heart and lung machines during cardiac and other types of surgery. These machines ensure that the patient’s blood continues to flow during the medical procedure.

Perfusionists are among the few non-physicians in the medical field who commonly earn over $100,00 per year. There are bachelor’s degree programs that specialize in this field. Many people, however, first compete their bachelor’s degree and then enter a perfusion certificate program.

Physician Assistants

With the growth of the entire medical industry, there is an increasing demand for physician assistants. These professionals must be familiar with a wide range of medical processes and they may assistant physicians in everything from diagnosis to surgery.

The average annual salary for a physician assistant is around $86,000. While this career does not require medical school, it does require a special program that usually takes two years to complete. These programs may be given by medical schools or by colleges or universities.

Radiation Therapist

Radiation therapists are currently highly in demand. These medical professionals use the latest medical technology to apply ionizing radiation to cancer patients. The average annual salary of a radiation therapist is nearly $75,000.

To become a radiation therapist, you need either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy. This is another of the most lucrative medical careers you can enter without a medical school degree.

How to Become a Nurse

December 18, 2013

Becoming a nurse is no easy task. The nursing profession is expected to see substantial job growth from 2010 to 2020. The need for nurses is continuing to grow. It’s an excellent and lucrative profession, but there are a lot of different things that go into becoming a nurse. If you just want to become a nurse for the money and an easy job, you’re going to be in for a very rude awakening. The road to becoming a nurse is long, rough, and takes a lot of knowledge and dedication. However, this guide is going to show you the road on how to get ready for your dream profession. Using these steps, you will understand exactly what you need to do in order to jump-start your career as a registered nurse.

Step 1: Do All the Research You Can On Being a Nurse

how to become a nurseSome people want to get into professions without knowing exactly what those professions entail. Generally speaking, nursing can be one of those professions. That’s for a good reason, however. Nursing is a very noble profession and you get to help people on a daily basis. However, it’s important to do a lot of research on what being a nurse actually is. You may find that you don’t want to have anything to do with it. Even better, you may find that you become even more interested and you’ll want to work even harder to get into the profession. Either way, you want to be informed about your routine.

While you will want to do research on your own, here is a small idea of what nurses actually do:

  • Nurses are trained to treat patients and alleviate their symptoms.
  • Nurses are also there to provide emotional support for family and friends. This aspect can be very rewarding and very stressful. A lot of nurses have to be social and get along well with other people.
  • Nurses are required to keep records of the patient’s medical history.
  • Nurses can administer different medications and treatments.
  • Nurses have to be able to operate medical machinery.

As you can see, nurses do a lot! You have to have a great deal of understanding in many different technical aspects of medicine. If any of this sounds attractive to you, nursing may very well be the right career path for you. If not, you may want to look elsewhere. There are plenty of other jobs in the healthcare profession.

Step 2: Get On the Right Educational Path

Like doctors, students have to go through extremely strict educational requirements before they can become registered as nurses. First off, it’s best if your start your educational preparation as early as possible. When you’re in high school, you want to make sure that you’re doing well and understanding your science courses: Physiology, chemistry, biology, or anatomy. Do your absolute best in these classes, there’s only more to come if you decide to pursue the nursing profession. If there are electives that seem like they would lend themselves well to the nursing profession, take those as well. This is a great way to prepare yourself. Don’t be completely discouraged if some of these classes don’t come naturally to you. Anyone can learn anything. If you need to, hire a tutor or do a lot of extra studying. Not everyone is great at understanding the sciences, but these people can still become nurses.

Once you graduate high school, it’s time to focus on college. Most bigger colleges offer programs in nursing. At this point, it’s up to you to go whatever college tickles your fancy. There are three different ways to become a registered nurse:

  1. Get a LPN or LVN- Generally speaking, this degree is obtained by a year of training at an actual hospital. If normal colleges aren’t for you, this degree can also be obtained at a vocational or technical college. This is great for people that want to become a nurse, but don’t want to go to a traditional four year university.
  2. Obtain an ASN- These programs take about two years to complete. However, after his step, most people do move on to get their BSN.
  3. Obtain a BSN- This requires graduation from a traditional four year college. You get a lot of preparation while you’re pursuing your BSN. These courses include topics such as psychology, nursing theory, chemistry, biology, anatomy, and many other aspects of the medical field.

It’s also advisable that you take a little bit of time to do some volunteer work in a hospital or private practice. This allows you to gain some real world experience and get a feel for what some of your daily responsibilities are going to be. This will make your transition into becoming an actual nurse a lot easier and you will probably be able to impress some of your employers by how much you already seem to know.

Step 3: Choose Your Nursing Specialization

Nursing is one of those career options in which people get overwhelmed by how many different specialties there are. There are many different things that you can do with a nursing degree. As you’re getting your degree, you’re likely to get a feel for what some of the different specializations are.

A lot of nurses choose to be in the labor unit. This a great specialization for those that are interested in helping women. You will be there to help deliver the baby and this can be a great experience for some people.

Those that want to be on the “front lines” of sorts, should be in critical care. In critical care, you have a much smaller patient load, but the patients are usually in a very bad way. Those nurses that you see, in the movies and TV shows that are with our hero after he just suffered a fatal gunshot to the heart, those nurses in critical care. That could be you.

Pediatrics is another choice for those that like children. Caring for children can be a great experience, but it can also be a pretty stressful one. No one likes to to see sick people. Everyone hates seeing sick children. However, you will have a hand in making them feel better and bonding with them.

Psychiatric nursing is another option for those that want to help with the mentally ill.

All in all, there are many different specializations to choose from. Choose whichever one you think is going to be the best for you and whichever one you think you are going to be able to shine in. Not everyone can work with kids, maybe you can. Not everyone has the patience for working with the mentally ill, perhaps you do. Maybe you can handle all the blood and gore in the world, but seeing someone in labor makes your stomach turn. The great thing about the nursing profession is that there is a place for everyone.

Step 4: Prepare For, Take, and Pass the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse

Nursing Exam (NCLEX)If you want to, you can call it the “NCLEX” for short. Just like you heard a lot about the SATs during high school, you’re going to be hearing a lot about the NCLEX during nursing school. While prerequisites for this test do vary from state to state, you will need to have completed one of the three nursing programs mentioned earlier if you want to be able to take the test. In order to become a registered nurse, you have to pass this test.

Preparing for the test is fairly straightforward. Luckily for you and everyone else, the Internet exists. There are plenty of study guides that will help prepare you for the test. You are also in a nursing program with other people that plan on taking the test. Study with them and get some of their insight. A lot of people do better studying with other people. After all, misery loves company. The test is multiple choice, so get into good multiple choice test taking habits. Some people aren’t great at multiple choice, there are also study guides to ensure that you become a better multiple choice test taker.

All in all, you want to use all of the resources at your disposal. You want to be prepared, but don’t stress yourself out too much. You can always take the test more than once. In addition to that, the first timer pass rate was a solid 83%. If you’ve been working hard up to this point, the statistics show that you will probably do fine. If you’ve been struggling, you just have to work extra hard. Don’t stress out if a lot of these things didn’t come easy to you. As long as you persevere and do your best, no one can fault you.

Step 5: Find Your First Job as a Nurse

Now that you have passed the NCLEX, it’s time for you to find your first job as a nurse. This transitional period can be a very confusing time for people of every profession, let alone nurses. Luckily, there are over 2 million nurses currently working in the United States. This makes nursing the biggest profession in all of healthcare. First-year nurses should look into working on a specialty unit. The patients in the specialty unit are more homogeneous than those that will be in a surgical unit. This is a great way to get your feet wet and get a feel for what nursing is going to be like as your proceed with your career. If you did any volunteer work for a hospital or private practice during your education, it’s also a great idea to get in touch with them again. If you did well, you may end up having a job waiting for you before you even pass your NCLEX.

One thing to never forget is the military. While there are plenty of jobs in the States, you never know, you may want to join the military and become a nurse for the enlisted. You will get a lot of experience and you are going to be a shoe-in with your educational background. It’s a very fulfilling and noble option. You may wish to do it for years and years to come.

Whatever the case, nursing jobs are always in demand. Unlike a lot of other professions, getting hired is honestly the easy part.

Step 6: Moving Forward

Now that you have your first job, don’t think your work is over. The medical and healthcare fields are so exciting because they are constantly changing with the times. There is a lot of new legislation being passed, medications being tested, and economic factors that are going to affect you and the way you perform your job. It is very important that you keep current with all these trends and keep your practices up to date. Read medical journals, articles, and keep yourself informed. Few things in healthcare are stagnant.


Likely, this guide provided enough information to let you know whether becoming a nurse is something you want to pursue. There may have been some aspects to nursing that you found very exciting, or there may have been some aspects to nursing that you found completely repulsive. It’s important to be informed before deciding if nursing is the right career path for you. If this guide persuaded you in one way or the other, then it did its job. Becoming a nurse takes a long time and it’s hard road to go down. However, this guide was also meant to convey just how rewarding of an experience nursing can be. While it may not be the easiest career path in the world, those that take the time and effort to pursue it are going to learn a lot, make a lot of friends, and do a lot of good for a lot of people.

What is a Medical Assistant

December 18, 2013

A Medical Assistant works in the health field and performs administrative and medical tasks that assist nurses and physicians. Medical Assistants often work in doctor’s offices, but some of them work in hospitals as well. Some of the tasks they may perform include:

  • Administering medications and injections to patients
  • Measuring vital signs in patients
  • Giving patients important medical information
  • Collecting samples of bodily fluids and tissues for lab testing
  • Preparing a doctor’s medical instruments

On the administrative side, medical assistants may perform tacks such as:

  • Answering the phone
  • Updating patient medical records
  • Filling out paperwork related to medical insurance
  • Scheduling appointments for patients
  • Setting up hospital admission or lab services for patients
  • Handling billing and book keeping

Preparation and Training

what is a medical assistantOne of the benefits of a career in medical assisting is that it doesn’t require an extensive education. Someone interested in becoming a medical assistant has a couple of options in educational programs to pursue a career in medical assisting. The path to a career as a medical assistant could take as little as one year because some schools offer a one-year certificate programs. Others can take a different route by completing a two-year associate’s degree from an accredited school. The educational requirements for an aspiring medical assistant will include classes in math and science, medical billing, medical terminology, anatomy and physiology. Depending on the program, a medical assistant student may have a clinical internship as part of their program. With a clinical internship, the student will work as a medical assistant in a medical clinic, gaining valuable experience. An important aspect to consider for anyone pursuing a career as a Medical Assistant is how their education will be funded. Potential students should explore options for financial aid.

Medical Assistant Certification

Students who complete the medical assisting program can sign up to take the certification exam to become a Certified Medical Assistant. The American Association of Medical Assistants offers the exam three times per year in January, June, and October, and the exam is taken on a computer. Certified Medical Assistants are required to renew their certification every five years. It is important to note that not every employer requires the CMA certification, so prospective medical assistants should be aware if this is a requirement for a job they are pursuing. Certified Medical Assistants typically have more job options to choose from than those who don’t have the certification.

Why Medical Assisting?

When it comes to looking for a career for which people are in high demand, medical assisting is one way to go. Medical Assistants are one of the fastest growing occupational needs in the United States. According to the expectations of the Bereau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the field of medical assisting will expand by 31% from 2010 to 2020. An added benefit is the nature of the work itself. Medical Assistants have the opportunity to genuinely help people on a daily basis. They can make a real difference in people’s lives. They are also trained in a variety of tasks, so skill development is always a part of the job.

Because Medical Assistants are in high demand and many find the work to be personally rewarding, a career in medical assisting is a smart pursuit for someone looking to help people on a daily basis, work steady hours, and receive steady pay. The path is clearly laid out and takes as little as one to two years to complete.