Physical Health

Healthcare degrees in physical health train students for patient-facing roles. With an enormous number of specializations available, physical health programs vary widely in their curricula and focus. Some careers only require a few years of education, while others need nearly a decade of training.

No matter which path you take to a career in physical health, you are entering into a field that needs you. The retirement of the Baby Boomer generation is increasing the demand for qualified care providers and physical health professionals are on the front line. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many of the fastest-growing occupations in the U.S. fall under the scope of physical health, including medical assistants, physician associates (assistants), and physical therapy aides. Check out the programs and careers below to find the one that’s right for you.


It can be easy to picture anesthesiologists sitting at the head of a patient during surgery monitoring their vitals. While this is commonplace for anesthesiologists, they do so much more. They also can provide pain relief for chronic pain or cancer patients or may place epidurals for laboring mothers.

Athletic Trainer

Athletic trainers can work for a professional sports team, in high school or collegiate athletics, at a hospital, or in physical therapy clinics. Their goal is to help identify, prevent, and rehabilitate athletic injuries. They are essential medical professionals who keep athletes of all abilities on their feet and at their peak.


Audiologists are trained allied health professionals who can assess, prevent, diagnose, and treat hearing and balance disorders in patients of all ages. Treatments can include hearing aids, hearing assistive technology systems (HATS), audiologic rehabilitation, and cochlear implants.

Cardiovascular Perfusionist

Cardiovascular perfusionists operate extracorporeal circulation equipment during medical procedures that require temporarily replacing a patient’s circulatory or respiratory function.

Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)

Certified nurse-midwives are caring advanced practice nurses who have received additional training in the care of women and newborns during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, certified nurse-midwives reduce the stress of pregnant mothers, the cost of care, and the number of interventions during pregnancy and labor.


Chiropractors use spinal adjustments, ultrasound, massage therapy, and more to help patients with musculoskeletal health problems. The musculoskeletal system includes nerves, ligaments, bones, muscles, and tendons.

Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists examine patients for oral disease, provide preventative dental care, and educate their patients about oral health. As the general population lives longer (and keeps more of their teeth), more dental hygienists will be needed.


Routine dental care is important because not only does it help maintain healthy gums and teeth, but it can lead to early treatment to avoid losing teeth or having more invasive procedures.


As with all medical careers, becoming a dermatologist requires many years of schooling, medical residencies, and licensure examinations. Read on to learn more about what it takes to become a dermatologist.


Dosimetrists’ primary job is to design, generate, and measure patient radiation doses. They will calculate overall dose distributions and provide oversight to the entire radiation therapy process.


The famous African proverb “it takes a village” rings true for many community-supported endeavors—and childbirth is no exception. The care provided by birth doulas to laboring mothers and their families has lasting positive impacts on the physical and emotional health of mothers and babies, as well as improved societal and financial outcomes.

EMT & Paramedic

EMTs and paramedics have received extensive training on how to provide emergency care to individuals and transport them safely to the hospital. EMTs can provide first aid, administer auto-injectors such as epi-pens, assist with breathing treatments, stop external bleeding, and stabilize broken bones. Paramedics have received further training that allows them to open airways, provide breathing assistance through ventilation, administer medications, and even deliver babies in emergency situations.

Exercise Physiologist

Knowing how to improve or maintain fitness is a challenging proposition, especially after an injury or hospitalization. Thankfully, there are trained exercise physiologists nationwide with extensive education on how to help patients and clients meet their fitness and mobility goals.


Gerontologist is an all-encompassing term for a healthcare provider who works with aging clients. This can include social workers, occupational therapists, social service aids, nurses, and more.

Lactation Consultant

Breastfeeding is a lifelong gift that keeps on giving in the form of health to parents and babies. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), both reap numerous health benefits from breastfeeding.

Licensed Acupuncturist

The word “balance” gets used a lot in today’s culture, but it has been an essential concept in Eastern healing practices for centuries. To help patients manage pain or to rebalance their “qi” (energy flow), acupuncturists use ancient Chinese medicinal techniques to realign energy meridians in the body.

Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT)

Massage therapy is an essential act of self-care for some and a critical method of injury prevention or treatment for others. Massage therapists care for clients’ healthcare needs by manipulating muscles and soft tissues to promote healing.

Medical Assistant

Medical assistants perform administrative and clinical tasks in their everyday roles, making it a solid choice for those contemplating a career in healthcare but unsure as to whether they are best suited to work in an office or patient-centered setting.

Medical Esthetician (Aesthetician)

Licensed skincare specialists who work in a clinical setting are called medical estheticians. They are employed in dermatology offices, plastic surgeon clinics, hospitals, and medical spas.

Medicolegal Death Investigator

When someone dies from unknown causes, law enforcement is required to perform an investigation. Determining the cause of death is the responsibility of the coroner or medical examiner.


Neurologists are either doctors of medicine (MD) or doctors of osteopathy (DO) who have completed a neurological residency. They have the education and skills to address general neurological disorders in patients.

Nurse Case Manager

Nurse case managers are registered nurses who have specialized education and training in case management. With medical knowledge and strong interpersonal skills, they advocate for patients’ needs, help schedule appointments, ensure follow-up care is completed, monitor medications, and educate patients.

Nurse Practitioner

The current increase in demand for healthcare practitioners has put nurse practitioners in high demand. NPs are registered nurses who have an advanced degree and certification.

Nutritionist (Dietician)

Nutritionists teach people how to care for their health by empowering them with diagnostic health assessments, individualized meal plans, and dietary counseling.

Obstetrician or Gynecologist (OB-GYN)

It can take over 12 years of postsecondary education and training to become a generalist OB-GYN, and even longer to subspecialize. But this is also a rewarding career, in both a monetary and personal sense: OB-GYNs are very well paid, and they make a difference in their patients’ lives on a daily basis.

Occupational Therapist

An occupational therapist’s goal is to help patients gain physical strength and pursue the rehabilitation of key musculoskeletal systems that are crucial for a self-sufficient lifestyle at home and work.

Occupational Therapy Assistant

Occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) play an important role in helping individuals with physical or mental disabilities gain or regain skills necessary for their highest quality of life. Keys to this job include providing support, compassion, and guidance to patients.


Medical eye experts, called ophthalmologists, have completed the necessary medical education and training to handle everything from surgery to emergency cases, eyeglasses prescriptions, and disease diagnosis.


Eye care is an important part of maintaining a healthy body. Not only are eyes the windows to the world, but they also provide insights into general well-being. Regular eye examinations by a qualified optometrist are crucial for early detection and prevention of eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration. Eye care can also play a key role in detecting systemic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and even cancers, which often manifest early signs in the eye

Patient Care Technician

Learn what it takes to become a patient care technician, including diplomas and certifications, on-campus and online programs, program accreditation, certification and licensure, and annual salaries.


Doctors who specialize in the care of babies, children, and teens are called pediatricians. These licensed doctors have completed medical school and a pediatric residency and have the skills to care for growing kids. With their specialized training and education, they can ensure a child is developing correctly, diagnose childhood diseases, and treat common childhood illnesses such as ear infections or colds.


Phlebotomists draw patients’ blood in the correct amount and into the right containers, label it, and make sure it gets transported appropriately for testing.

Physical Therapist

Physical therapists are on their feet for most of their day and use exercises, hands-on therapy, and assistive equipment to provide care. They also work with patients to develop recovery plans, which may be short- or long-term depending on the required care.

Physical Therapist Assistant and PT Aide

Physical therapist assistants and PT aides typically work in offices, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, or home healthcare settings that provide one-on-one care. Some of the patients they work with may include those who have neurological disorders that impact movement, such as a stroke; work- or sport-related injuries; and more.

Physician Assistant (PA)

Physician associates (PAs) perform many of the same tasks that doctors do: examining patients, diagnosing illnesses, ordering tests, and prescribing medicine. But compared to medical doctors, physician associates finish school faster, get to work sooner, and often have more personal interactions with their patients.


Podiatrist can diagnose and treat infections, injuries, deformities, and disorders. They practice as either physicians or surgeons in a number of specialties. These can include orthopedics, sports medicine, wound care, and pediatrics.

Prosthetist (Orthotist)

Orthotics, supportive devices, and braces are essential to many people’s day-to-day lives. Injuries, birth defects, or sprains may require a prosthetist to measure, select, and fit people with a brace or device to maintain or improve mobility.


Prosthodontics is one of the ten specialties recognized by the American Dental Association. In order to earn board certification from the American Board of Prosthodontics (ABP), candidates must complete three or more years of prosthodontics residency.

Radiation Therapist

Radiation therapy specialists guide radiology treatment for cancer patients. Their main tasks include operating radiation machines (e.g., linear accelerators) and guiding concentrated radiation therapy to the specific physical regions of a patient’s tumor.

Registered Nurse

In the US, there are over three million nurses employed in a variety of fields. Over 60 percent of nurses work in hospitals providing care for patients, assisting with surgeries, and administering treatments.

Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT)

A respiratory therapy specialist is responsible for helping those who suffer from respiratory and pulmonary conditions and disorders. Their daily tasks include examining patients with breathing or cardiopulmonary disorders, performing diagnostic tests like lung capacity and nasal capabilities, and treating patients for chest physiotherapy and aerosol medications.

Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP)

The need for speech-language pathologists has been rising for years. Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts openings in the profession will grow 21 percent between 2021 and 2031, a rate that’s more than four times the national average.


Surgeons are physicians who have completed a five-year surgical residency. They have practiced hundreds, if not thousands, of procedures under the careful supervision of more senior doctors to ensure they know how to perform procedures and keep patients safe.