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Other Health Professions

In addition to providing information and guidance to pre-medical students, Steinbright's pre-health advisor works with students considering the full scope of health professions. Listed below are introductory information and resources on a select number of health professions. This list is by no means exhaustive — in exploring the diverse array of career paths in the healthcare field, students are also encouraged to utilize the Explore Health Careers website, which provides detailed information on the broad range of health careers. Drexel students considering a career in healthcare are encouraged to schedule an appointment with the Steinbright Career Development Center's pre-health advisor.


Nurses are found in nearly every healthcare setting. As part of a collaborative healthcare team, they play a central role by assisting physicians in providing patient care. Nurses have widely varying responsibilities, including but not limited to: performing patient exams and assessments, administering medications, wound care, patient education, and more. The traditional Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (BSN) takes four years to complete and prepares nurses  to work in a host of public and private healthcare settings such as hospitals (including critical and emergency care), nursing care facilities, doctor's offices and clinics. Nurses also have the opportunity to advance into graduate nursing programs for professions including nurse anesthetist, nurse-midwife, nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialists, and more.

The College of Nursing and Health Professions at Drexel University offers a full-time educational program leading to the BSN. There are also opportunities for students to complete an accelerated second-degree BSN; often these second degree programs are associated with graduate programs leading to a Master of Science in Nursing and certification as a nurse practitioner.  The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (see below) has a directory of accelerated nursing programs.

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Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists are state-licensed to assist people of all ages in accomplishing important tasks through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. Occupational therapists teach patients self-care through both productive and leisure activities to enhance functionality, independence, and overall life satisfaction. Common occupational therapy practices include helping disabled youth in participating in school and social activities, helping people recovering from sudden accidents or injuries to regain motor skills, and providing support for older adults suffering from physical and cognitive changes (AOTA, 2016). State-licensed occupational therapists need to possess a master's degree in occupational therapy, which typically takes two years to obtain after undergraduate studies.

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Optometrists are primary healthcare providers that focus specifically on the eye and associated structures. Optometrists are trained and licensed to manage eye diseases and conditions, correct vision problems by prescribing contact lenses and eyeglasses, prescribe medications, provide vision therapy, and more. Optometrists are doctors that have earned a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree, which takes four years to complete after obtaining an undergraduate degree.

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Pharmacists are medication experts, working in all healthcare environments where medications are utilized. Pharmacists distribute the drugs prescribed by a physician to the patient, while also providing vital information to the patient including medication usage, dosage, side-effects, and contraindications. Pharmacists work in a range of settings, including but not limited to: retail, hospitals, clinics, nursing facilities, home healthcare facilities, and military. Pharmacists are also employed in industry settings, often working in research and development for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Pharmacists must earn a PharmD degree to legally practice, which takes four years after obtaining an undergraduate degree.

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Physical Therapy

Physical therapists, often referred to as PTs, help patients improve range of motion and flexibility and manage pain through the use of exercises, therapies and manual techniques. An integral component to a collaborative healthcare team, PTs help their patients regain form and function essential to everyday activities as well as sports and athletics. PTs often help patients recovering from sudden injury or accident, sports injury, surgeries, and chronic conditions. PTs generally consult with physicians and other healthcare providers to ensure the best care plan for their patients. In the United States, PTs need a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree and state-licensing to practice, the former typically taking three years after undergraduate studies.

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Physician Assistant

Physician assistants (or PAs) are nationally certified and state-licensed medical professionals. In the United States, PAs are allowed to prescribe medication in all 50 states. PAs are trained in accredited programs that generally take about two years (between 24-27 months) to complete after obtaining an undergraduate degree. Under the guidance of a doctor, a primary responsibility as a PA is to diagnose and treat patients; however the degree of autonomy and scope or practice varies depending on state laws and the supervising physician. Specific job responsibilities of a physician assistant include, but are not limited to: taking medical histories, assisting in surgeries, performing patient examination and treatment, counseling patients, and prescribing medications.

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Podiatrists are doctors that provide specialized care and treatment of foot and ankle ailments such as fractures, sprains, infections, bunions, and foot and ankle deformities. Podiatrists usually work in private or group clinical practices, but can also work in hospitals and long-term healthcare facilities. Podiatrists must obtain a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree, which takes four years after completing an undergraduate degree, followed by a two- to four-year residency.

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