With people living increasingly longer lives, medical care from surgeons, physicians, pharmacists and dentists will increase as well. And since the future of healthcare will look very different from what it is today, the medical field may just be the right industry for you, even if being a doctor or a nurse is not your calling. Many new technologies will be incorporated in the healthcare industry and we will see things like robotic surgeries and 3D printed organ implants, to name but a few. This means that we will be seeing a host of new career opportunities, even jobs that don’t even exist yet. In this article we’ll look at some of these future careers.
1. Healthcare navigator – guides patients through the complex medical system of the future
Being sick can be extremely stressful - for yourself, the doctors and nursing staff. But your family and loved ones also have a lot to deal with when you are ill. Technology will make healthcare more and more complex to navigate in the future. We’ll be introduced to bioprinters, electronic pills, 3D printed medication, surgical robots and DNA manipulation. To make sense of all these new technologies and treatments, and guide the patient as well as the family members through it all, healthcare navigators will become indispensable.
2. Life extension specialist - helps people to live longer, healthier lives
With the world’s Tech giants such as PayPal, Google and Oracle paying hundreds of millions of dollars towards the quest for immortality, we will soon see breakthrough technologies emerging. The problem of ageing is actually an engineering problem – now being delved into by medical scientists. It is estimated that we will have overcome human ageing by the end of the century, or even within a couple of decades. Technology will offer us a number of ways to tackle ageing. We will be able to freeze ourselves, manipulate our DNA and have our failing organs replaced with 3D printed tissue. A life extension specialist will advise us on the best ways to prolong life. He will introduce us to the latest technologies, inform us of the various pros and cons and talk about the risks. Life extension specialists have a background in psychology and social work.
3. Bioinformatician – analyses data from a wide range of biological fields
Bioinformaticians - also referred to as computational biologists, biometricians or biostatisticians – have been around for a while but their numbers are expected to grow exponentially. For those who enjoy working with statistics and science, a career in bioinformatics might just be the perfect plan for the future. Using dynamic simulation methods, mathematical models, sophisticated software and the Internet, bioinformaticians gather and analyse information from pharmaceutical developments, genetics and population biology. A bioinformatician may design 3D models of protein and DNA sequences, design new clinical drug trials or program population growth models.
4. Organ implant designer – designs and prints organs with the patients cells
With donor rates dropping for the first time in over a decade, waiting lists for organs are becoming longer and longer. In the US alone, over 120.000 people are waiting for organ donations, with another name added to the waiting list every ten minutes. Every single day, over twenty patients still die while waiting for a transplant. With the explosive technological developments, 3D printing is now also entering into operating theatres across the world and the technology will soon alleviate the shortages and be as common as a surgeon or a scalpel. 3D printing is already used for the manufacturing of dental implants, hearing devices and prosthetics. The fact that the technology enables us to print extremely complex structures, however, will soon see us bioprinting live tissue and transplantable organs. These organs will most probably be printed using the patient’s own cells, in order to decrease organ rejection. Medical researchers are already growing live tissue to help patients with disfigurements and replacements of body parts or organs. The career prospects for organ implant designers are excellent.
5. Medical roboticist – designs robots to assist medical professionals
The future of surgery will see tiny robots entering a patient’s body through small incisions and fixing or removing whatever the surgeon instructs the robot to fix or remove. These tiny robots and other robotic tools are designed and created by medical roboticists and can be used to assist medical professionals in a host of different ways. Besides assisting in surgical procedures, these robots can also diagnose diseases, you can swallow them to have your insides photographed and neurosurgical robots can enter your skull to perform various procedures. Then there are the so called social robots, which are already used in nursing homes and hospitals. They assist people with taking their medication, serving food and generally to keep patients company. Medical roboticists will require some medical training as well as a background in computer science and engineering.
6. Cryopreservation specialist – freezes people to preserve them for the future
Up until now, people wanting to freeze themselves after death have been the subject of ridicule. Their reason for wanting to be preserved, however, is because there is the hope that one day in the future, new technologies will lead to new cures for diseases that are now incurable. This practice is called cryopreservation – the art of deep freezing a person or his or her organs (or a favourite pet). Cryopreservation specialists are the ones who ‘do the freezing’ and bring the people back to life. Currently, cryopreservation methods are used in IVF (in vitro fertilisation) and to chill sperm and ova. Currently, chilled organs can only be kept for up to two days. Scientists therefore hope that they will soon be able to freeze complex tissues and organs until they are ready to be transplanted. When that day comes, cryopreservation specialists will be in high demand.
7. Health specialties professor – trains future medical professionals
With all these new and exciting future careers and job opportunities on the horizon, one has to wonder by whom all these people will be trained. The health specialties professors will most likely consist of researchers or practicing medical specialists who will train and prepare people for careers in medical fields which are in high demand. These careers will comprise physical therapists, nurses, dentists and pharmacists, but also the bioinformaticians and cryopreservation specialists we spoke about earlier in this article.
8. Medical scribe – handles patients’ medical information
Taking notes during patients’ consultations and thereafter dictating them to the assistant will soon become a thing of the past. One would assume that EHRs (Electronic Health Records) is the logical next step. This type of record keeping is actually much more time consuming for the physician because the information they need to enter into their computer systems is much more detailed. This results in less time for the patient, which would not be a particularly positive development. This is where the medical scribe would come in. He would join the physician during a consultation and enter the patients’ medical data into the system. The medical scribe would also be responsible for gathering patient information before a consultation as well as do some research and take care of basic correspondence. Obviously, medical scribes will have to have some experience with medical terminology and an understanding of basic medical procedures.
Why should you choose a career in healthcare?
Advances in medical technology and aging population have resulted in the formation of and renewed interest in medical careers. Not only is healthcare growing at a faster rate than most other areas of our economy, careers in medicine have also been ranked among the top five careers. This is because they meet criteria such as employment opportunities, job security, great salary and good work-life balance. Most people who choose a career in healthcare however, do so because they see it as a calling - they have a strong desire to make a difference in people’s lives.