Doctor, Doctor: Alternative Education and Career Paths in the Medical Field

By eLearning Inside
May 20, 2021

It’s no secret that becoming a fully-fledged doctor can take a huge amount of work. Professionals in this field need to be able to deal with a huge range of medical conditions and issues and think on their feet. The years of medical school, working to gain experience, and proving yourself in this field can make it too much for many people. This doesn’t mean, however, that a career in the medical world isn’t something that you can achieve.

While being a general practitioner can seem like the ultimate goal to strive for, there are countless alternatives for those who want to work in the medical field without having to become a doctor. To make this easier for you, this post will be outlining some of these different careers and the education paths required to achieve them, giving you the chance to get started on your plans for the future. No matter your age or previous education, there is always room for more healthcare professionals.


Being a nurse is a varied role that involves many of the tasks that a normal doctor would perform. This role can cover many different types of work, but the general idea is that you will be working to facilitate the treatment that is prescribed by doctors. This can be done in hospitals, doctor’s practices, and even more specific medical organizations.

A great example of the varied nature of this role can be found in most hospitals. Regular nurses in this setting will administer treatments, provide care and support to patients, and carry out tasks for physicians and surgeons. Alongside this, though, a theater nurse will spend all of their time supporting surgeons while they perform operations.

Becoming a nurse can take a lot of studies, but there are many online courses that can be used for this, for instance, when it comes to training, online DNP programs are a great option. In the U.S., you will need to pass a nursing accreditation, clear NCLEX-RN examinations, and obtain a state license before you can begin applying for jobs. The beauty of online learning is that you can often make this process move much faster than necessary.

Medical Assistants

Many people mistake the role of a medical assistant with that of a nurse, but these jobs are actually quite different. A medical assistant will occasionally perform the duties of a nurse, but a large portion of their role will be administrative. Unlike many of the desk jobs in the world, though, this career will provide you with daily challenges that enable you to test yourself on a regular basis. But what does a medical assistant do?

  • Interacting with patients to offer support and make sure that their treatments are going to plan.
  • Performing record keeping and other administrative tasks.
  • Administering medication under the strict instructions of physicians and nurses.
  • Preparing patients for surgery, examination, and other medical procedures.
  • Performing basic treatments and medical procedures, like recording vital signs.
  • Talking to the friends and families of patients to make sure that they are happy with the treatment their loved ones are being given.

As you can see, this sort of role involves a lot of different duties. This is good for many people, giving you challenges to complete each day and making each shift different. Becoming a medical assistant takes less time than becoming a nurse. You don’t need specific qualifications for a role like this, with many medical assistants getting into this sort of role with a simple high school diploma.


Most people know what a dentist does, with this role being very important to your oral health. There are a lot of different types of dentists out there, though, and this can make it a little bit confusing when you’re looking at a role like this. Whatever the specific field you enter as a dentist, you will always be working inside people’s mouths. Let’s take a look at some of the different types of dentists that you can find in the modern world.

  • Dental Nurses: Much like a regular nurse, a dental nurse is specifically trained to help a dentist to perform procedures and look after patients. A role like this can be extremely varied, but you don’t necessarily need specific qualifications to be able to do it.
  • General Dentists: A general dentist is the type of dentist you see for regular appointments. This role will involve performing a huge variety of procedures, making this role quite similar to being a general practitioner. It can take a long time to secure the qualifications you need for this role.
  • Orthodontists: An orthodontist works on tooth alignment, rather than regular oral health. This sort of professional can prescribe braces, along with offering support and treatments that will prevent your teeth from becoming misaligned.
  • Cosmetic Dentists: As their name suggests, cosmetic dentists perform procedures that are purely cosmetic. This can include but isn’t limited to, teeth whitening, gold teeth replacements, and a range of other treatments that are designed to alter the appearance of your teeth.

Dentistry is a complex field, and it can take a long time to get into it depending on the exact job that you choose. Likewise, though, you can also do this sort of work without any formal or specific qualifications.


As senses go, most people would agree that being able to hear things is one of the most important. Audiologists are hearing specialists who can help patients with their sense of hearing, working with a variety of tools to ensure that people of all ages are able to make the most of life. A role like this is very varied, with a huge range of different treatments available for those with hearing problems.

Prescribing hearing aids, providing earwax cleaning, and performing hearing examinations are all elements of a job like this. Like many other medical fields, you will need to study before you can perform a role like this. Audiology practices tend to be private, and this means that you can earn a huge amount doing this job. Of course, though, you will also get to enjoy the satisfaction of helping people to regain an important part of their lives.

Eye Doctors

Much like hearing, vision is a very important sense, and there are specific doctors out there that are able to work on this part of your body. This sort of role won’t be as varied as other medical roles, as you will only be able to prescribe glasses or laser eye surgery to your patients. Of course, though, you will also be able to offer advice and support that will help the people you see to improve their vision.

Working as an eye doctor can be demanding and satisfying. Your appointments will always be quite short, but you will be able to make a huge difference to someone’s lifestyle in this brief window. While the treatments you can offer are limited, the types of tests you can perform are extremely varied. This makes the role of an eye doctor include a lot of problem-solving, giving those with creative skills a good chance of success in this job.

Care/Support Work

In the past, families would usually be responsible for caring for elderly or disabled members of their flock. This has changed over the last few decades, though, with care and support work becoming increasingly popular. These two roles can be very different, but the requirements to get started are quite similar, and some jobs in this field will cross between the two.

  • Care Work: Care work is a very involved job, often included providing personal care to service users. You perform many roles that a nurse would perform, only with others that may make you feel more like a doctor.
  • Support Work: In most cases, support work will involve spending time with those who are elderly or have disabilities, performing jobs like cooking and cleaning. This job can be incredibly rewarding, as you will have the chance to make the lives of your service users much better.

There is a lot of demand for support and care workers in the modern world. This means that you can often find an abundance of jobs available in these fields, and you can even get trained by your employer rather than having to get qualifications beforehand. Of course, jobs like this are incredibly demanding, and this means that you need to make sure that you are up to the task before you apply.

With all of this in mind, you should be feeling ready to start working towards a career in the world of medicine. Jobs like this can be satisfying and interesting, while also enabling you to test yourself. Many people assume that they won’t be able to work in this field without years and years of studying, but this simply isn’t the case.

Featured Image: National Cancer Institute, Unsplash.