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Beyond Nursing: Hot Health Care Jobs

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Thanks to this defibrillator of a recession, health care's future has a beat. Not long ago, baby boomers were promising to hit medical care providers with a double whammy: retiring from their jobs as nurses and doctors and aging their way into hospitals and clinics in waves as patients. But the recession seems to have caused something of a reprieve as older workers delay retirement and a younger, newly pragmatic generation gravitates toward careers in this more stable field.

The array of health care jobs can be mind-boggling, and the titles often read like medical gibberish. Here's a brief guide to six promising health care jobs you may not know much about.

Dosimetrist:This job is critical to the treatment of cancer. As members of the radiation oncology team, dosimetrists are responsible for calculating and measuring the dose of radiation that will be used for treatment. Dosimetrists will find plenty of demand for their skills. On-the-job training may be an option for working radiation therapists, while study programs often require a bachelor's degree in the physical sciences.

Phlebotomist: If you faint at the sight of blood, this probably isn't a good career choice, as phlebotomists are medical technicians who draw blood. Training programs last from a single semester to a full year of study, so it's a good option for people with only a high school diploma. The median pay is in line with the shorter duration of required training: about $11 to $12 an hour, according to Labor Department data.

Cytotechnologist: This job requires an interest in the details and patterns of the human body at a cellular level. Cytotechnologists examine human cells under a microscope for signs of malignancy, infection, and other diseases. They work side by side with pathologists to determine a diagnosis of abnormalities.

Nurse practitioner: Americans pay nearly 600 million visits to nurse practitioners each year, according to the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. They head to a nurse practitioner for services similar to a physician's--diagnosing and treating conditions, prescribing medication, and ordering tests--in various settings, including clinics, hospitals, schools, and nursing homes. NPs are registered nurses who have advanced degrees and other qualifications that meet states' nurse practitioner licensing requirements. Although the growing use of practitioners has been especially prominent in lower-income rural communities, Mote says the trend has recently accelerated in urban areas as well.

Nurse anesthetist: These nurses provide anesthesia and pain management services. They complete three years of additional training to become qualified to provide anesthesia without a supervising doctor. Although the median salary--roughly $125,000 a year--sounds like premium pay, it's far less than the $250,000 median pay of anesthesiologists. Medical record coder: If you like the health care field but you're not much of a people person, this job may be a good fit. Medical record coders are responsible for parsing patients' records and assigning codes to their diseases and treatments for the purpose of billing insurance companies or programs such as Medicare.

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