In recent posts, we’ve taken an in-depth look at entry-level careers , required skills, and training for the radiography, sonography, surgical technology, and medical assisting fields. In this final post in our series on these healthcare careers, we look at long-term career paths in these fields.
As one of these healthcare professionals, you may work in a hospital, physician’s office, or outpatient center. Radiologic technologists and sonographers also work in diagnostic centers. Wherever you work, your career is likely to grow and change over time. As you gain more and more experience, you’ll discover a variety of opportunities for your future.
1. Excelling in Your Profession
Once you enter a field, one option is to focus on your current role and commit to becoming the best surgical technologist, medical assistant, sonographer, or radiologic technologist you can be.
“Staying in your discipline is not a bad thing,” Asheville campus President Lisa Satterfield stresses. “Not everyone is going to leave their profession to go into management or administration. The technologist and assistant roles are important and we have to have those jobs filled.”
Dr. Satterfield looks back fondly on her own roles in patient care, when she worked in radiography, mammography, and nuclear medicine. “I loved patient care because I loved the patients, I loved their families, and I loved working with the doctors,” she recalls.
2. Pursuing a Specialty
As you work with different groups, you may discover an interest in or passion for a particular specialty. According to Dr. Satterfield, these professions offer numerous opportunities to specialize. “These are all really good entry level roles,” she says. “Even if this is not exactly where you want to land, these jobs are a great starting point for getting where you want to go.”
In medical assisting, you might for example choose to specialize as a podiatric, chiropractic, or ophthalmic medical assistant. Surgical technologists can work with doctors ranging from dentists to dermatologists to neurosurgeons. In ultrasound, you can focus on areas like high-risk pregnancies or breast care. After gaining experience, radiologic technologists can pursue roles working with MRI or CT technology.
Working in a new specialty may require additional certification and/or training, but certain specialties can equate to increased earning potential.
3. Advancing into Management
“Moving into management is a very common career path,” explains Dr. Satterfield. “It’s very rare in these disciplines for someone to manage or be an administrator who has not first been an assistant or technologist in the area. That’s how you move up. That is one of the big selling points.”
In addition to experience, having a strong education can prepare you for management roles. Specifically, a bachelor’s degree focused on radiography or sonography or an associate’s degree in medical assisting or surgical technology can equip you with more well-rounded skills so that you stand out from your peers.
4. Sharing Your Knowledge
A fourth career option—one Dr. Satterfield knows well—is sharing your expertise and becoming a mentor to others. According to Dr. Satterfield, “Nothing is more gratifying than promoting your profession through the development of others”.  You can become an educator and trainer within the healthcare setting itself, within academia, or find a way to fit both roles into your schedule through adjunct teaching. Teaching in college and university settings requires advanced education and deep knowledge in your field of expertise. Eventually, if you’re passionate about the field, you can follow Dr. Satterfield’s path and work your way into academic leadership, supporting and guiding other faculty and staff in preparing the next generation of healthcare professionals.
Ready to Start Building Your Healthcare Career?
If you’ve been considering a career in healthcare, South College can help you make your dreams a reality.
Learn more about careers in healthcare from our other blogs in the series:
- Exploring Your Career Options in Healthcare
- The 6 Types of Skills You’ll Need for a Healthcare Career
- How to Prepare for and Start Your Healthcare Career
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