Healthcare does not function without the laboratory. Biomedical research and practice inform better diagnoses, technological innovations, and individualized treatment plans. This often requires a mix of technical proficiency and hard-nosed science, so degree programs in this field do not deal in fluff. Expect your training to be either hands-on high-tech practice, densely complex theoretical study, or a mix of both.
Degree programs in the lab and biomedical spheres vary depending on the career they service. A technician might spend just a few years in school, while a microbiologist might spend an entire decade. The hands-on nature of many of these professions means that purely online programs are a rarity, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t several hybrid programs and other versatile options available. Check out the programs and careers below and see which one is right for you.
|Bioinformatics takes cues from the world’s organisms to build a healthier and cleaner future and has a staggering number of applications in the modern tech landscape. The field combines analytics and data representation to make sense of the vast amounts of data generated every day.||As the name suggests, biomedical engineering is a branch of engineering that combines biology, medicine, and engineering to help improve human health. Tasked with developing biomedical equipment, biomedical engineers also responsible for the installation, maintenance, and technical support of equipment.|
|Biomedical equipment technicians (BMETs) are also known as medical equipment repairers. These professionals are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing patient care equipment.||Performing cardiac sonograms requires training and education. To work in this field, professionals must complete a cardiac sonography education program. These programs are offered at the associate, bachelor’s, or certificate level. As part of a program, students will complete didactic coursework as well as intensive clinical rotations to gain hands-on skills.|
|There are many diseases and cancers that can only be diagnosed by trained laboratory specialists called cytotechnologists. These inquisitive and detail-oriented professionals have the skills and training to prepare cell samples, determine abnormalities in cells, and write detailed reports so pathologists can make a diagnosis.||Diagnostic molecular scientists primarily work in laboratories, studying various human samples including fetal cells, hair follicles, and blood and bone. Their duties include sequencing DNA, preparing samples, reporting findings, and analyzing data.|
|Most commonly, embryologists can be found assisting with in vitro fertilization or IVF. This process starts with the stimulation of a woman’s ovaries, so she begins to ovulate. Once the eggs are formed, they are harvested using ultrasound guidance.||Endoscopy technicians assist doctors and nurses with endoscopies. They establish and maintain a sterile field, assist with equipment set up, help run equipment during procedures, sterilize equipment after procedures, and can be responsible for maintenance and repairs.|
|Epidemiologists study the distribution of determinants of health issues and events within a population. In other words, they use scientific, data-driven studies to understand the patterns of health issues and risks within a group of people, such as children or residents in a specific neighborhood.||Receiving a genetic disease diagnoses can be incredibly hard. As tests have become more prevalent, so has the crucial support role of genetic counselors. Genetic counselors provide advocacy, education, and expertise to patients and clients who are pursuing genetic testing or have received a genetic disease diagnosis. They are empathetic individuals with strong listening skills who can help people facing difficult choices think critically and make necessary decisions.|
|What happens when something in the blood isn’t working correctly? It can lead to a variety of disorders such as blood clots, leukemia, and anemia. All of these disorders (and more) are diagnosed, managed, and treated by hematologists.||Medical laboratory scientists (MLS) must know how to use specialized lab equipment, perform complicated multistep tests, interpret results, and troubleshoot irregularities. Because of the technical nature of the work, MLSs must have at least a bachelor’s degree, if not higher, in medical laboratory science or a related field.|
|Microbiologists study microorganisms, observing how they grow, interact with other organisms, and survive within their environment. They also delve into the structure, growth, and development of these organisms.||Nuclear medicine technologists must complete an associate’s degree higher in nuclear medicine technology. Certification in this field is optional, although it is an industry-standard and required by most employers. Nuclear medicine technologists must be licensed in at least 30 states.|
|If you have an interest in physiology, health science, mathematics, and compassionate personal care, a career as an ophthalmic technician could be an ideal fit. The U.S. News & World Report has rated ophthalmic technical support as #21 in Best Health Care Support Jobs. Ophthalmic medical technicians work with an ophthalmologist to provide patient eye-care by performing mechanical and medical procedures.||Pathologists are medical doctors who specialize in the study of tissue, bodily fluids, organs, and blood to understand and diagnose disease and illness. They take samples and run diagnostic tests, working with a care team to develop treatment recommendations based on their findings.|
|Pathologists’ assistants work in hospitals, private pathology labs, morgues, and medical teaching facilities under the supervision of pathologists. They are responsible for many of the day-to-day tasks including gross (initial) examinations, preparing specimens for testing, and collecting samples.||Pharmacists have extensive knowledge about medicines, how medications interact within the body, and state and federal regulations. They also must be skilled communicators who can assess a patient’s knowledge of a medication and convey enthusiasm and trust for a prescribed course of treatment. In addition to direct work with medication and patients, pharmacists often help file insurance forms, manage staff within pharmacies, and administer vaccines.|
|Pharmacy technicians have received specialized training with an associate degree or certificate program; others have completed extensive on-the-job training. These professionals are knowledgeable about medications, order entry and processing, federal regulations, and how to dispense medications correctly. Additionally, they assist with pharmacy operations such as receiving payment, processing insurance, and answering basic customer questions.||Simply put, radiologic technologists take x-rays of areas of a patient’s bodies. MRI technologists use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines to make diagnostic images of a patient’s entire body or specific areas as needed.|
|Sonographers are the professionals who perform sonograms. They are required to have specialized education and training to use the equipment, know what they are looking at, summarize findings for doctors, and help patients understand their procedures.||Aspiring professionals can become a surgical technologist by completing an approved certificate or associate’s degree in surgical technology.|
|Allied health professionals called vascular technologists have the training and skills to use ultrasound equipment to examine blood vessels in order to aid doctors in making clinical diagnoses.|