Unusual healthcare jobs that you may not have heard of

May 7, 2016


Most people are familiar with typical healthcare jobs, such as nurses, doctors, and x-ray techs. As medicine continues to advance, the need for various healthcare specialists has developed. But, there are many more unusual healthcare jobs you may not have considered.

Orthotist & Prosthetics Technicians

Orthotists design and create artificial limbs for patients who have had an amputation. In some cases, accident, disease or genetic condition may have led to the loss of a limb. Orthotists use computers and specialized machinery to make limbs.

Prosthetics technicians may assist orthotists and repair artificial limbs when needed. Technicians may also test the limbs to make sure they are functioning properly.

A master’s degree is required to work as an orthotists while prosthetic techs often have an associate degree. In some instances, techs may also be trained on the job. Some states require orthotists to be licensed. The exact licensing requirements vary by state.


During some types of cardiac surgery, the heart needs to be still. In these instances a special machine, called the heart-lung machine, takes over the circulatory and respiratory functions of the body. The heart-lung machine is essentially an artificial pump, which does the work of the heart during the surgery.

The heart-lung machine is operated by a perfusionist. A perfusionist manages the circulatory and metabolic needs of the patient by using the machine. Perfusionists may be involved in various types of heart surgery, such as coronary bypass, valve repair, and heart transplants.

To become a perfusionist, you must have a bachelor’s degree. Courses in chemistry, anatomy and biology are usually required. The next step to becoming a perfusionist is graduating from an accredited perfusionist program. Most programs are two years and award a master’s degree.

After meeting all requirements, perfusionists are eligible to take the two-part exam required for credentialing. All perfusionists in the United States are required to be certified as clinical perfusionists to work in the field.

Medical Dosimetrist

A medical dosimetrist is not a healthcare career you may be familiar with, but they play a vital role in radiation treatment. Radiation therapy is often used to treat various types of cancer. It has to be given with precision to maximize its effectiveness and decrease side effects.

A medical dosimetrist determines how to deliver the treatment exactly as prescribed. This involves calculating how to distribute the radiation and minimize negative effects. Medical dosimetrists utilize three-dimensional computer models and run computer simulations to make sure the treatment plan will work as intended. They may also supervise the radiation therapist delivering the treatment and calibrate machinery as needed.

To enter the field, a four-year degree in the physical sciences is usually needed. In additional, a medical dosimetrist program must be completed. Program length may vary but may medical dosimetrist programs range from 12 to 24 months. After graduation, certification is available through the Medical Dosimetrist Certification Board.


These careers may not be something you consider when you first decide to study medicine, but with training and perseverance you may well find an unusual healthcare role that is unusually perfect for you! When you’ve decided to take the plunge, why not strengthen your application to medical school with one of our work shadowing placements?

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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists and physician assistants – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.