Exploring Medical Professions

Brianna Placeway

Photo from New York Times article about health professionals working during COVID.

There are a variety of jobs in the medical field, and while all require a certain extent of the same knowledge, each different job requires a specific set of skills unique only to it. In order to ensure proper patient care, every type of medical professional must know the ins and outs of working with equipment, communication with patients, and have a large amount of schooling and experience in a variety of science courses. The three professions covered in this article will be Ultrasound Technicians, Oncologists, and Surgeons. 

Ultrasound Technicians

Ultrasound technicians use a variety of skills in order to detect health problems in patients, but most importantly they need a high level of understanding of different machines and how to identify health problems on those machines. According to Cambridge College, “a diagnostic ultrasound technician uses specialized equipment to examine parts of the human body including the abdomen, reproductive systems, prostate, heart and blood vessels. Sonographers help physicians and other medical professionals detect heart disease, vascular diseases, pregnancy and much more.” 

Ultrasound techs must use this equipment to help find problems in patients but they don’t actually treat the problems. Cambridge states that “Ultrasound technicians are directly involved in patient care, helping physicians diagnose and detect diseases and other medical concerns. Some of the other duties sonographers are responsible for include: managing equipment settings and maintenance, diagnostic procedures for detection and diagnosis. analyzing diagnostic imaging, and image reporting to other medical professionals.” Quality diagnoses and understanding of the equipment is a large part of the job, but working with patients is just as important.

UCEG says you will learn how to “[show] compassion and empathy, stay calm under pressure, listen and communicate skills, ethical conduct, independent work ethic, [and to show the] ability to function as part of a team.” Being able to stay professional while also being sympathetic is a main part of this job, since one of the main parts of it is delivering bad news. 

Oncologists

Oncologists are another type of job found in the Medical field, and they work with cancer. They must be extremely knowledgeable in carcinogenic cells in order to provide the best care. “Oncologists are the primary healthcare providers for people with cancer and are in charge of coordinating and managing a patient’s care and treatments throughout the course of their disease,” says the MUA. Diagnosing and then treating cancer, whether that be by surgerys or medicines, is the main job of an oncologist.

The MUA also states that in order to be a quality oncologist, they must “Possess a deep understanding of the symptoms and signs related to different types of cancers, and how each one affects the human body, determining which tests are appropriate for making an accurate cancer diagnosis and reading the associated test results, including tests such as CAT or MRI scans, biopsies, and ultrasounds, and prescribing an appropriate type of cancer treatment which may include medication, chemotherapy, radiation, surgical removal, or hospice care.” This is a ton of responsibility, and in order to accurately treat such a deadly disease, around 10 years of schooling is needed. 

Some additional skills that oncologists need are “Delivering quality and compassionate care, staying up to date about new research and findings associated with the field of oncology, and talking about all treatment options and their recommendation”. Being knowledgeable and up-to-date on new findings, since more and more is being discovered about cancer, is extremely important in order to provide the best care for patients, especially in such a hard part of the patients lives. Some oncologists can also operate, but generally that job goes to general surgeons. 

Surgeons

Surgeons specialize in performing procedures for issues that medicines cannot solve. They must be equipped for many situations and understand human anatomy extremely well. Very Well Health states “A surgeon is a physician who is trained to perform surgical procedures. It is a profession that demands exceptional manual dexterity and fine motor skills to carry out the techniques needed to investigate disease, repair or remove damaged tissues, or improve the function or appearance of an organ or body part.”

Rolling with the punches is a big part of Surgery. Many things can go wrong in operations, and staying calm under the pressure is important. According to Very Well Health, another important part of the job is to, “review the outcomes with the patient, disclosing any findings whether adverse or favorable. In addition, the surgeon will be responsible for ensuring the appropriate long-term follow-up in the event of an ongoing postsurgical problem.” Follow up after surgerys are just as important as the surgery itself, since making sure infections or postoperative complications do not occur is essential. 

Unfortunately, surgery is one of the medical professions that require the most schooling. Very Well Health states “The educational pathway takes an average of 13 years to complete upon graduating from high school. This can be broken down into undergraduate school, medical school, residency, and fellowships.” It is very difficult to become a surgeon, so if it  sounds like a time commitment you are not willing to take, it may not be the right medical field path for you. 

There are a variety of different occupations in the health field, three of them being ultrasound technician, oncologist, and surgeon. All three require similar knowledge, however all contain specific necessary skills in order to provide the best health care possible for patients. If you are interested in potentially going into the medical field, make sure to do your research to see what skills are necessary for certain positions and if it is the right fit for you.