Pushing the Frontiers of Modern Medicine: High Tech Medical Careers

Healthcare workers

In the modern age, the number of new jobs developed has always been relative to the level of scientific and technological achievement. Health careers specifically have depended on how technology changes society and its infrastructure. This is especially true today, as health now branches out into a wide range of specializations. In fact, at a glance, some may seem only slightly related to the profession itself, such as information management.

There are currently more high tech medical careers than ever before. Here are some of the professions that have the most promising aspects, one way or another, in terms of pushing the boundaries of healthcare as we know it.

(NOTE: Academic/educational background requirements for these high tech medical careers will not be included in this article.)

Healthcare Data Analyst

Healthcare Data Analyst analyzing health data graph
Credit by Salisbury Public Affairs via Flickr

By nature of what they do, healthcare business analysts and information management specialists also fall under the same profession. The main responsibility of a healthcare data analyst is to collate all healthcare-related data (electronic health records, medical billing, expense reports, patient statistics) and use the information to improve healthcare services.

At a surface level, healthcare data analysts mostly deal with automating information processes within a medical environment. For example, they may develop data-analyzed dashboards that provide pointers to hospital executives to show what data affects which operation, and suggest better courses of action for certain outcomes.

Because of this, their role as decision-makers is possibly one of the most important pillars of modern technological healthcare today. Information is an asset that is valuable to any organization or network. As such, if a healthcare data analyst could provide optimal decisions based on well-documented healthcare data, the serviced medical institution should improve greatly as a whole.

This is especially the case when dealing with big data, where the slightest advantage in analyzing its trends (probably using AI) equates to potentially huge cost savings in daily operations. As a high tech health career, healthcare data analysts are becoming more important for the industry than ever before.

Health Information Technician

ECG print out
Credit by World Bank Photo Collection via Flickr

Modifying what healthcare data analysts can do, a health information technician shifts the focus from decision-making to direct archiving and documentation. So while both jobs excel in extracting and processing healthcare data from various sources, the health information technician does so with an express focus on organizing the data, possibly for the healthcare data analysts themselves to research.

While this type of job is fairly flexible (with openings from auditing to supervisory roles), the job’s technological aspects are where most rewards lie for practitioners. For example, a health information technician may design and produce the very core systems that would make a healthcare platform or facility function. Even better, the technician may even extend their role to assist with deployment and implementation, making sure that the system improves along the way.

Because keeping electronic health records is pretty much a basic requirement in medical institutions today, a health information technician will always be a necessity. So if you intend to go beyond its technological aspects for any other reason, you still have the freedom to do so.

Laboratory Support Technician

Technician in healthcare lab
Credit by World Bank Photo Collection via Flickr

A pretty straightforward career, as its name suggests. In a laboratory setting, not every single person gets to do all types of tasks. Only some of the professionals get to do the tests themselves, and some are assigned only to facilitate the setup for these procedures. This is where a laboratory support technician works best, and where the bulk of their responsibilities lie in a medical setting.

But if we want to be technical in our definition, a laboratory support technician does also include certain administrative tasks. For example, inspecting specimens for quality, or checking acquisition records of individual test subjects. Even more menial tasks that would otherwise be the speciality of a healthcare information technician, such as collating computer system records and tracking receipts, may also be included, provided that it is part of the regular operation of a laboratory or clinical facility.

As with the two multi-role jobs mentioned earlier, a laboratory support technician may be required in almost any field in healthcare or medicine. Of course, there is merit in specialization. But you at least have the option to be professionally qualified for many of the basic maintenance tasks that are part of the career’s responsibilities.

Diagnostic Imaging Technologist

MRI scanner
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Another one of the identified high tech medical careers based on its name is diagnostic imaging technologists. These are qualified professionals who maintain and operate radiation or electromagnetic-based machines used for various medical purposes. This job’s responsibilities don’t just end with understanding the equipment’s mechanisms. All other related procedures (before or after) of using such equipment are also under the profession’s list of regular daily activities.

To clarify, do take note that diagnostic imaging technologists ARE NOT radiologists. Though the skill set may be inherently available for the latter profession, diagnostic imaging technologists are not responsible for interpreting the imaging data. However, they do record and process the patient data, and it is also their responsibility to care for the patient undergoing the exam.

Some of the medical imaging operations done by a diagnostic imaging technologist are as follows:

  • X-ray
  • Radiography using other EM waves
  • CT scans
  • Mammography
  • MRI

As mentioned earlier, maintenance is also part of the main tasks assigned to this job. In this regard, a diagnostic imaging technologist is one of the high tech medical careers that focus on the technology of the procedures alone. Therefore, high interest in the imaging equipment’s intricate workings is a requirement to fulfill this task brilliantly and adequately.

Radiation Therapist

Elderly patient in hospital bed and Dr holding patient hand
Credit by SilverStack via Flickr

Instead of using radiography to visualize and analyze potential physiological issues, a radiation therapist uses radiation directly as a form of treatment. Usually part of a team of caretakers, this type of profession is somewhat exclusive to oncology (the study of cancers), since this is where such treatment options are utilized extensively.

The core responsibility of a radiation therapist is (multi-disciplinary) collaboration. They usually never operate independently, as they always work with oncologists, medical physicists, and even other nurses to perform the aforementioned treatment tasks. They follow the procedures prescribed by the accompanying medical professional. They determine areas of interest in the body that need treatment and intimately know the machines and equipment used for the treatments.

Because of the potentially dangerous nature of radiation itself, surveillance and monitoring are also part of what radiation therapists do. They watch out for possible complications and monitor their patients if there would be any unusual actions or activities.

Lastly, there is also a stronger emotional requirement factor for this type of job. Much like end-of-life caregivers, radiation therapists always have to deal with the (considerable) possibility of premature death, due to the still-unpredictable nature of cancer diseases.

Orthotists and Prosthetists

Two orthotist looking at prosthetic limb
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Both are different enough to be categorized separately. But, due to their similar body-augmenting nature, they are generally considered a single profession. Orthotists, technically speaking, deal with corrective devices (orthoses) that help reintegrate body parts into their original positions and functions. For example, an orthotist may use braces to correct a dislocated spine’s alignment, supporting that part until it completely recovers.

Prosthetists, on the other hand, deal with the replacement of body parts that are lost due to various circumstances. For instance, designing robotic limbs for specific people is the most commonly cited responsibility of a prosthetist.

The key phrase for both professions is mobility recovery. Both focus on allowing patients to regain motor functions, and to stand, walk, or run normally as any normal body should, using artificial augmentations. The design may be one part. But building the braces or artificial arms themselves using specialized equipment is actually also part of what orthotists and prosthetists do.

To this end, 3D printing may perhaps be one of the most revolutionary technologies that has graced high tech medical careers over the past decade. It is expected that in the future, more and more orthotists and prosthetists will be able to take advantage of the platform benefits of having their own personalized augmentation manufacturing center.

Biomedical Engineer

Scientist in Lab testing with a test tube
Credit by This is Engineering via Flickr

This profession combines design and building principles with medical knowledge to create systems, both hardware and software, that help facilitate healthcare services. They are quite unique in this article’s technological context because they combine what are usually academically separated fields of science, physics, and biology. Thus, as a high tech medical careers go, this may be the most technologically developmental inclined job when assigned at the frontiers of research and discovery.

For the most part though, a typical biomedical engineer will be responsible for the following engineering tasks:

  • Combining electronics, software development, and measurement systems to develop medical instruments.
  • Discovery of natural or artificial materials that can potentially be used for medical devices and implants.
  • Application of mechanics to develop assistive systems and adaptive treatments.

Many interconnected fields and disciplines within biomedical engineering are currently at a revolutionary point in their development timespan (for example, 5G in telecommunication and wearable tracking accuracy, to name a few). This makes the profession one of the most likely jobs that will very soon branch out yet again into other specializations, should any of these technologies become sufficiently advanced in the near future.

Genetic Counselor

Mother and Dr  speaking with a female Dr
Credit by UNICEF Ukraine via Flickr

Perhaps one of the most advanced-sounding high-tech health medical careers listed in this article, the genetic counselor almost sounds like something of a sci-fi flick. Well, they do give an exciting glimpse of what’s coming. But, at the moment at least, their core responsibilities and objectives are still somewhat down-to-earth.

If you are a genetic counselor, chances are you would most likely be consulted by married couples who wish to plan for pregnancy. As a medical professional, you should be able to address potential concerns, as well as point out factors that will affect the development of your child.

Alternatively, people also seek genetic counselors’ help to find solutions for (possible) chronic conditions that would occur depending on their hereditary traits. Lastly, genetic counselors may also collaborate with oncologists for more serious disorders like leukemia, and prostate or breast cancers, any of which might be genetic or hereditary in nature.

The emergence of modern gene-editing tools could very well change the game for genetic counseling in the next few decades. Perhaps the long-proposed “designer baby” service might eventually also be included when consulted for pregnancy planning. But for now, this type of technology would be limited to frontline researchers, and institutions focusing on field tests, not to genetic counselors themselves.

Nanomedical Engineer

Nanomedical Engineer
Credit by UCSD Jacobs via Flickr

Another one of the many high-tech medical careers that sounds straight out of science fiction is nanomedical engineering. Nanomedical engineers have been at the forefront of medical research for the past couple of decades.

Again, the current responsibilities of such a profession are comparatively simple. They mostly deal with the development and (cost) effective production of nano-scale materials for medical purposes.

One of the most revolutionary branches of research that nanomedical engineers do today is the creation of nanoparticle formulations. In certain situations where non-water-soluble drugs need to be administered, surfactants or non-water-based solvents are often used. This requires an additional level of medication, since those substances may also affect the efficacy of the drug or may cause unintended side effects.

If an alternative nanoparticle solution can be developed, the need to use extra materials to dissolve the drug into a solution is eliminated. The formulation is already created at a molecular level, and can even be administered directly to the site where it is absolutely needed (for example, on a cancerous tumor). Of course, the testing and approval for such medications is one inherent disadvantage, but this is practically the same for every other new medication developed today.

Another challenging role of a nanomedical engineer is the development of nanomaterials that can act as mediums for carrying very specific compounds. However, this is mostly within the realm of pharmaceutical research, with more generic objectives leaning towards manufacture and production efficiency.

A Grain of Sand in the Sea of Possibilities

Needless to say, the high tech medical careers listed here are not the only high tech health careers currently available. Very specific jobs, such as VR therapists, stem cell biologists, or even something like gamification specialists, keep the healthcare industry fully diversified thanks to rapidly evolving technologies.

In fact, its industry is still seeing strong exponential growth. Statistical projections by reputable organizations show that it could grow as much as 14% by the end of 2028. By then, more specializations could be available, while other innovations might push for new concepts that would introduce even newer high-tech health careers in the coming years.

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