It takes a lot of people to make our healthcare system run. This is an undeniable fact, and yet so often we reduce the field to doctors and nurses. If you’re considering an allied health career or another profession related to healthcare, then, it’s important to understand the full scope of the industry. While becoming a doctor or nurse are both excellent goals, our healthcare system would come to a screeching halt without the work of these 4 other professionals.

From The Front Lines To The Lab, Recognizing The Scope Of Healthcare Careers


When a patient comes in for a checkup or presents with a health problem, doctors typically order some tests, many of which require the patient to have blood drawn – but doctors don’t perform blood draws. That’s a task for a phlebotomist, a type of medical technician whose job it is to draw blood and who often assists with specimen collection for other medical tests. Phlebotomists work in hospitals and medical practices, as well as in independent labs.

Medical Imaging Technician

Blood draws are one of the most basic types of medical tests, but there are many other important tests that doctors order, including imaging studies like X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and ultrasounds. These tests are performed by medical imaging technicians, who have special training in using the different equipment for these tests.

Many medical imaging technicians perform scheduled outpatient tests at ambulatory care centers, but others specialize in more targeted imaging settings. For example, sometimes surgeons require X-rays or other images to be taken in the middle of a surgery, in which case the technician needs to know how to perform their tasks within a sterile environment. Others work in mobile radiography units, in which they travel to patients, or in trauma imaging, assisting in the emergency room with incoming cases.

Respiratory Therapist

Though respiratory therapists always play an important role in the day-to-day operation of hospitals and other healthcare centers, COVID-19 has thrown these professionals into the spotlight. In fact, in some regions, respiratory therapists in training who are close to graduating are being graduated early by their programs to serve in overwhelmed intensive care settings. These same areas are also calling on retired respiratory therapists, who perform many tasks, including managing patients on ventilators, to come back to work.

In addition to working with intensive care and surgical patients who are on respirators, respiratory therapists also work with patients with conditions like cystic fibrosis, asthma, and COPD. They may also participate in the care of infants with underdeveloped lungs, provide specialty treatments using inhaled medications, and support patients in learning to use medical equipment on an outpatient basis.

Medical Billing And Coding Specialist

As patients move through the healthcare system, they’re assigned a range of diagnostic codes, their insurance information is collected, and other details about treatments and procedures are noted. In order for patients and insurance companies to be billed for these treatments, though, someone needs to translate all of that information and communicate it to insurers. This work falls to medical billing and coding specialists, who specialize in creating invoices and claims, have learned the specific coding structure used in healthcare to indicate diagnoses and treatments, and spend their time acting as the liaison between providers and insurers.

Medical billing and coding specialists may work in hospitals or medical offices, but because of the nature of the work, many also work remotely. Unsurprisingly, medical billing and coding is a rapidly growing field and one that offers qualified applicants exciting opportunities.

There are countless other professionals who work to either directly provide healthcare or support providers – this list is just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, no matter what your particular skills and passions, there is likely a way you can put those abilities to work in the healthcare industry. You just have to be curious and explore all aspects of the work. You might be surprised by what you find.