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How to Decide Which Allied Health Profession is Right For Me

Posted by Sara Giboney Friday, Oct. 8, 2021

How to Decide WhichA Nebraska Methodist College faculty member works with a student in the respiratory therapy classroom.A career in allied health is rewarding and will provide you with many job opportunities. While allied health jobs are in high demand, you may not know which one is right for you.

The following allied health programs are offered at Nebraska Methodist College (NMC). Consider the job descriptions, salary opportunities and education requirements of each career field to determine which one is right for you.

Find the Right Allied Health Profession For You

Phlebotomy

Job Description: As a phlebotomist, you’ll collect, transport, handle and process blood and other specimens for medical analysis. You’ll work with patients and other healthcare professionals. 

Phlebotomists work in physician offices, medical clinics, hospitals, commercial laboratories and blood donor centers.

Salary Opportunities: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for phlebotomists was $36,320 in 2020. Employment is expected to grow 22% between 2020 and 2030.

Education Requirements: A nine-week phlebotomy hybrid course combines online learning and on-campus laboratory work followed by a three-week clinical experience. Students come to campus three hours each week for hands-on learning. After the course, students are eligible to take the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) certification examination enabling them to be a certified phlebotomy technician.

Pharmacy Technician

Job Description: As a pharmacy technician, you’ll assist pharmacists with critical functions that aid patient care, such as filling prescriptions, managing drug supplies, handling insurance queries and addressing other needs of patients. 

Salary Opportunities: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmacy technicians made an average of $35,100 per year in 2020. Employment is expected to grow 4% between 2020 and 2030.

Education Requirements: A 10-week hybrid course combines online modules and in-person skills laboratory work along with experiential training at local pharmacies. Students who complete all course requirements and have a cumulative grade of 80% or higher receive the Nebraska Pharmacy Technician Certification. After completion of the course, students take the National Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam.

Sterile Processing Technician

Job Description: Sterile processing technicians are responsible for cleaning and sterilizing surgical equipment before and after procedures. Sterile processing is a great entry point for individuals who want to pursue a career in the operating room. 

Salary Opportunities: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, sterile processing technicians made a median salary of $38,800 in 2020. The projected job growth is 14% between 2019 and 2029.

Education Requirements: A six-week online course with hands-on clinicals at Methodist Hospital. Students who complete the course receive a certificate and can take the Sterile Processing Technician exam through the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution, Inc.

Surgical Technology

Job Description: Surgical technologists help prepare patients for surgery, inspect and ensure surgical instruments are sterile and make certain the operating room is organized for the medical team. During surgery, they help position patients on the operating table and drape them with sterile cloths. They troubleshoot equipment and may be called upon to help clean and cauterize blood vessels or close wounds.

Salary Opportunities: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for surgical technologists in 2020 was $49,710, with a projected job growth of 9% between 2020 and 2030. 

Education Requirements: An associate’s degree in surgical technology is a 21-month program and allows students to work one-on-one with experienced instructors to develop professional skills in patient care, surgical technology and communication. In the final semester, students take the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam.

Cardiovascular Sonography

Job Description: A cardiovascular sonographer aids physicians in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders affecting the cardiovascular system. Using ultrasound and other technology, sonographers collect and evaluate images of the heart, the heart valves and related blood vessels.

Salary Opportunities: Salary ranges vary by education and experience level. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor of Statistics, sonographers made a median salary of $70,380 in 2020. The projected job growth is 19% between 2020 and 2030.

Education Requirements: An associate of science degree in cardiovascular sonography is a 21-month program. A bachelor of science in cardiovascular sonography is a four-year program. The first two years of the program are on campus, the third year combines online coursework with clinical fieldwork and the fourth year is online.

Completion of either program makes students eligible to take the adult echocardiography and vascular technology exams administered by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers.

Multispecialty Sonography

Job Description: Sonographers use advanced technology to generate images used for assessment and diagnosis of various medical conditions.

Salary Opportunities: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary in 2020 for diagnostic medical sonographers was $75,920 per year with a projected job growth of 19 percent from 2019 to 2029.

Education Requirements: An associate of science degree in multispecialty sonography is a 21-month program. The program provides students with the knowledge and hands-on clinical training to become a certified sonographer.

The curriculum focuses on different parts of the body. The obstetrics and gynecologic portion focuses on imaging of the female reproductive system and includes one of the more well-known uses of sonography - examining the fetus of a pregnant woman to follow the baby’s growth and development.

The abdominal portion of the curriculum involves learning the anatomy of the abdominal cavity to help diagnose and treat conditions primarily involving the aorta, gallbladder, bile ducts, kidneys, liver, pancreas and spleen. During the program you will also focus on the breast, thyroid and male reproductive system.

Graduates can take exams administered by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS).

Diagnostic Medical Sonography

Job Description: A diagnostic medical sonographer is skilled in serving patients with unique psychological and social needs, including coping with fetal loss, breast cancer, infertility and the complexities of high-risk obstetrics. 

Salary Opportunities: The U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the median salary for diagnostic medical sonographers was $75,920 in 2020. The projected job growth rate is 19% between 2020 and 2030.

Education Requirements: The bachelor of science in diagnostic medical sonography is a traditional four-year program that includes hands-on learning in high-tech labs, helping improve skills and confidence. 

Clinical rotations expose students to diverse populations, facilities and technology.

Graduates can take exams administered by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS).

Physical Therapist Assistant

Job Description: Physical therapist assistants follow the physical therapist’s plan of care to help patients return to their maximum level of physical function after an injury or illness.

Salary Opportunities: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for physical therapist assistants was $59,770 in 2020 with a projected job growth of 35% between 2020 and 2030.

Education Requirements: In 21-months, students can earn a physical therapist assistant associate’s degree. Students gain experience by practicing physical therapy procedures in a clinical setting and learn to provide care specified by a physical therapist. 

Students are exposed to many different specialties, taught by clinicians who are experts in the field and work with cutting-edge equipment and technology.

Radiologic Technology

Job Description: A radiologic technologist produces images of the human body used in various diagnostic procedures. Doctors rely on radiologic technologists to take accurate X-rays while maintaining a high level of sensitivity with patients. Technologists typically work in hospitals, clinics or diagnostic imaging centers.

Salary Opportunities: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, radiologic technologists' median annual salary was $63,710 in 2020. The projected job growth is 9% between 2020 and 2030.

Education Requirements: Radiologic technology requires a two-year associate's degree. The program provides a liberal arts foundation and professional training. Hands-on experience in clinical settings is needed. 

Graduates must pass the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists exam.

Imaging Sciences

Job Description: Medical imaging professionals administer radiation, primarily X-rays, in disease diagnosis and injury assessment. They must apply their knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pathology, patient positioning, radiation protection, image production and evaluation.

Salary Opportunities: Salary ranges vary by education, additional certifications and experience level. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the median salary for a radiologic technologist was $63,710 in 2020 and the projected job growth rate is 9% between 2020 and 2030.

Education Requirements: Students can earn a bachelor of science degree in imaging sciences with a three-year dual-degree option on-campus or a degree completion for associate degree graduates. Students can specialize their degree with courses in CT, MRI or mammography.

Graduates must pass the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists exam.

Respiratory Care

Job Description: As a respiratory therapist, you will use a combination of scientific standards and practices to discover, manage and prevent dysfunctions of the cardiopulmonary system.

Respiratory therapists work with diverse patients, from children to adults, at wellness centers, medical offices, asthma clinics, sleep disorder centers and hospitals. They help diagnose lung and breathing disorders, determine therapies and implement and manage ongoing care and treatment programs. 

Salary Opportunities: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary in 2020 for a respiratory therapist was $62,810, with a projected job growth of 23% between 2020 and 2030.

Education Requirements: A respiratory care associate’s degree program is 24 months and includes the study of human physiology and the cardiopulmonary system. Students learn critical thinking and communication skills, patient assessment skills, disease management protocols and care plan development.

Graduates must take the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) exam, which leads to an advanced practitioner exam to earn a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential.

Respiratory Therapy

Job Description: Respiratory therapists evaluate and treat patients who are suffering from labored breathing or who have lung disease.

Salary Opportunities: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the median salary for a respiratory therapist was $62,810 in 2020 with a projected job growth of 23% between 2020 and 2030.

Education Requirements: A bachelor’s degree is the future of the profession as determined by the American Association of Respiratory Care (AARC). A bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy features a curriculum that supports the changing role of the respiratory therapist and includes content in health promotion, health education, leadership, case management and healthcare policy.

At NMC, students can enroll in the RRT to BSRT program or the dual degree AS + BS program.

Graduates must take the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) exam, which leads to an advanced practitioner exam to earn a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential.

Occupational Therapy

Job Description: Occupational therapists treat patients who have injuries, illnesses or disabilities through therapeutic practices.

Occupational therapists work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, private clinics and in patients’ homes.

Salary Opportunities: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for occupational therapists in 2020 was $86,280 with a projected job growth of 17% between 2020 and 2030.

Education Requirements: The master’s program in occupational therapy at NMC combines classroom learning, research assignments, lab work and fieldwork teaching in an on-campus and online hybrid format over 24 months. 

The program is designed to provide graduates with the technical background, therapeutic interaction skills and critical thinking needed to work as the main point of contact with clients in many healthcare settings.

Graduates of the programs can take the National Board of Certification of Occupational Therapists (NBCOT) exam.

Those who have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in occupational therapy can advance their studies in the areas of clinical practice skills, research skills, administration leadership, education and program development through the Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate (PPOTD) program. This program is 100% online.

How to Get an Allied Health Degree

At NMC, you’ll gain the skills and experience you need to become a successful healthcare provider. Students receive a high-quality education from highly credentialed faculty in state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories and build real-life skills by working in clinical settings.

NMC is a top accredited nursing and healthcare college that offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees with programs available both on-campus and online.

You can enroll in an allied health program at NMC at methodistcollege.edu/apply-now.

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Topics: allied health career, rad tech program, surgical technology, occupational therapy, sonography, allied health

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