Everybody is talking about health care lately – whether it is in politics, personal finance or everyday life. Health – how to keep it, pay for it and preserve it – is a hot topic.

And while we’d all like the perks of being a doctor, that path isn’t for most people. Trust me, my brother-in-law is a practicing doctor with a prestigious job and the bills to match. Plus, it takes so many years to complete that you’ll be a grandparent before you can put your own name on the office door.

So I did a little research into the medical field…and there are so many accessible and interesting fields to study. It seems within medicine it pays to specialize. I surfed the Concorde Career Colleges web site, but there are many others out there to consider.

Here are some options you might find fits your lifestyle and your family’s needs:

  • Medical assistant: In this position, you are a “multi-tasked” helper. So you get trained on the clinical and administrative ends. On the clinical side, you would take patient histories, help the physician, do tests and more. On the administrative side, you’ll schedule patients, prepare medical records and handle calls along with a bevy of other things.
  • Dental assistant: Hope you like pretty smiles! Clinical responsibilities include sterilizing and preparing instrument trays, exposing and processing x-rays, conducting oral inspections, preparing patients for treatment and taking vital signs. Administrative responsibilities include patient charting, appointment setting, completing insurance forms, and processing accounts payable and fee collections.
  • Occupational therapy assistant: Occupational therapy is going to be a huge career in the years to come. Its goal is to help patients get back to everyday life — doing things like eating, dressing, bathing, leisure, work, education and getting out there for social occasions. The occupational therapy practitioner works directly with patients  to assess them for needed services, set therapeutic goals, develop a plan and implement intervention to enable the person can function in any way they need.

Granted, being an “assistant” might not sound very sexy. But these are important, necessary positions that improve people’s lives – and help you pay for yours! Plus, the degrees are readily available and can be completed within the confines of a busy family life. That aspect in and of itself is substantial.

I am especially intrigued by the Health Information Technology (HIT) program. According to Concorde, it “provides the skills needed to organize and manage health information needed by patients, hospitals and insurance companies.” The job handles the accuracy, accessibility, and security of medical records including medical history, symptoms, examination results, diagnostic tests, and treatment methods.

Here’s a description of the program: Students are enrolled in general education courses, health information courses and clinical practice. The health information courses begin with classes that introduce students to medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, database structures and health information management. Students then advance through courses that include more complex concepts in health data systems, healthcare statistics and managing personnel and processes in the healthcare setting.

How about that? It mixes technology with health care. So there are two of the hottest career areas in most geographic locations all rolled into one job. And the coursework takes a little under two years, so you could be up and running within a reasonable amount of time. That to me is exciting. I am not the one doing the work for you, so do the research before getting too hyped up. (Trust me, I’m always getting into things before I think about the ramifications on me and everyone around me!)

I’m constantly impressed with how much information is available to students on the Internet – you can do online chats with the colleges and universities, email for more information and get packets sent to you via snail mail. All of it is worth checking out if it means a new, better life for you and your kids.

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