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Career Paths in Healthcare: From Vocational Nursing to Medical Imaging

health professionals huddling together celebrating teamwork

The healthcare industry continuously grows and adapts in response to the ever-changing seasons. Since then, numerous practices within the industry have emerged, offering various rewarding and fulfilling career paths for aspiring medical professionals. In this article, we will discuss different career paths in healthcare, specifically focusing on vocational nursing and medical imaging. By understanding the responsibilities, educational requirements, and potential growth opportunities in these fields, you can confidently choose the path that best suits your ideals and future plans. 

 Career Paths in the Healthcare Industry  

From doctors and nurses to medical researchers and administrators, the healthcare industry offers diverse roles. It extends beyond the traditional notion that the industry is solely dominated by physicians and direct patient care practitioners. Each career path has specific requirements and responsibilities, enabling individuals to discover fulfilling and rewarding roles aligned with their preferences. If you have a passion for care and assistance and are considering a healthcare career, it’s important to thoroughly explore and comprehend the various available career paths. 

Growing Demand for Healthcare Professionals

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the healthcare industry was already experiencing steady growth in demand influenced by various factors, such as population growth, advancements in medical treatments and technologies, and an aging population. All of which led to a bigger need for healthcare services, including medical professionals, support staff, and specialized facilities. When the pandemic struck, it highlighted the resiliency of healthcare systems and the professionals that manned the industry. While some healthcare sectors, such as hospitals dealing with COVID-19 cases, faced challenges, other areas, like telemedicine, digital health solutions, and research into vaccines and treatments, experienced rapid growth in demand. 

As the world advances, there is a demand that needs to be constantly met. Whether you are already settled on a healthcare career path or not, don’t forget to keep an eye on trends and factors that could significantly impact your future in the healthcare industry! 

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Career Path in Healthcare

Before we delve deeper into vocational nursing and medical imaging, here are some factors to consider when choosing a career path in healthcare: 

  • Passion: Considering your interests and hobbies and incorporating them into your career will help you achieve greater job satisfaction in the long run. 
  • Opportunities: Prospecting the current job market or the career you are considering ensures long-term job security and growth opportunities. 
  • Skills: Evaluating your skills and capabilities is essential for discovering a career that aligns with your strengths. 
  • Balance: Assessing the work-life balance of a specific career path early on will allow you to effectively juggle work and personal life with ease. 
  • Education: Choose the right training and educational requirements needed for the career. With the right guidance under the proper programs, you can flourish in your chosen field. 

Note that it is also imperative to consult with career counselors, industry experts, and established individuals in the field to gain invaluable insights into your decision-making process.  

Vocational Nursing as a Career Path

Vocational nursing, also known as licensed vocational nursing (LVN), is a specialized nursing field focused on delivering basic patient care. It is a practice overseen by registered nurses or physicians. Vocational nurses contribute significantly by providing aid to patients, administering medication, and offering emotional support to patients and their families.  

Role of a Vocational Nurse

Vocational nurses work under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs) and doctors to provide basic nursing care to patients in various healthcare settings. The following are the basic roles of a vocational nurse:  

  • Patient Care: Vocational nurses contribute to basic patient care tasks, taking on responsibilities such as administering medications, monitoring vital signs, tending to wounds, and assisting with personal hygiene activities like bathing and dressing.  
  • Basic Health Assessments: They carry out routine patient assessments, like collecting and documenting important information about patients’ health conditions.  
  • Record Keeping: They maintain accurate and current patient records, including medical histories and progress notes. This documentation ensures seamless patient care and coordination of healthcare services.  
  • Collaboration: Vocational nurses collaborate closely with various healthcare professionals, including physicians, registered nurses, and therapists. They communicate vital patient information and help devise strategies for better caretaking. 
  • Patient Support: Vocational nurses provide a supportive presence to patients and their families during hard times. They attend to concerns, offer comfort, attentively listen and give emotional support where needed.  

Education and Licensure Requirements

To become a vocational nurse, you’ll need to complete a vocational nursing program. Smith Chason College School of Nursing offers this program, which requires just 15 months of learning. 

LVN courses typically combine classroom instruction and hands-on clinical experience, allowing students to gain hands-on experience in simulated clinical settings by shadowing nurses at a hospital and applying practical skills gained from classroom work. At Smith Chason, hybrid programs are offered to both Nursing and Medical Imaging that guarantee a more fulfilling educational journey. Our online classes offer engaging lectures and didactic courses, as well as a hands-on clinical experience that best suit our students’ educational needs.  

Upon the completion of a vocational nursing program, you’ll need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) to become a licensed vocational nurse. This exam tests your knowledge and competency in various areas of nursing practice. Once you pass the exam, you’ll be eligible for state licensure, allowing you to practice as a vocational nurse. 

Exploring the Field of Medical Imaging

Medical imaging is a branch of medicine that uses advanced technology to craft visual representations of the human body’s internal structures. These images help doctors spot diseases, track the progress of treatments, and plan surgical procedures. There are various approaches in medical imaging, including ultrasound, X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (C.T.), and nuclear medicine. 

Specializations in Medical Imaging

Once you have completed your education, you can specialize in a specific area of medical imaging. Some common specializations include: 

  • Radiography: Radiographers use X-rays to produce images of the body’s internal structures. They often work in hospitals, clinics, or imaging centers. 
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): MRI technologists operate specialized equipment that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of the body. They work closely with radiologists to diagnose and monitor various conditions. 
  • Computed Tomography (C.T.): C.T. Technologists use a combination of X-rays and computer technology to create cross-sectional images of the body. These images help in diagnosing and treating a wide range of medical conditions. 
  • Ultrasound: Ultrasound technologists use sound waves to create images of organs, tissues, and blood flow within the body. They often work in obstetrics, diagnosing conditions in pregnant women, but can also be involved in other areas of medical imaging. 

Education and Career Opportunities

To secure a career path in medical imaging, you must obtain proper education and undergo appropriate training. Most positions in this field require at least an associate degree, although some roles may require a bachelor’s degree or higher. Smith Chason College School of Medical Imaging offers programs in line with this that might be of interest to you, including medical sonography, cardiovascular sonography, and magnetic resonance imaging,  

A career in medical imaging offers a wide array of growth and advancement opportunities. Your work will revolve around hospitals, clinics, imaging centers, and research institutions. With more experience and higher education, you can progress to positions such as chief technologist, department manager, or professor. As technology and techniques constantly evolve, learning never stops in this field.  

Establish Your Career Path in Healthcare with Smith Chason College School of Nursing and Smith Chason College School of Medical Imaging Today!

Whether you’ve been enticed to choose a career in nursing or medical imaging, Smith Chason College offers opportunities for growth in your education in both fields!   

Smith Chason’s current California NCLEX Pass Rates for our Los Angeles Vocational Nursing programs is 76% and 64% at our Ontario campus* while being nationally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). Our vocational nursing programs are also approved by the Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians (BVNPT) for its Los Angeles and Ontario campuses. For more information on the Smith Chason LVN program, you may read up here. 

Grow your knowledge in medical imaging with Smith Chason College WCUI School of Medical Imaging. Smith Chason offers Associate Degree, Bachelor’s Degree, and Diploma programs, where you can divide your learning experience between online lectures, hands-on labs, and externship activities. For further information, you may contact admissions.  

Nurture your passion for healthcare, and start your fruitful educational journey with Smith Chason College!  

Vocational refers to the entry-level aspect of a healthcare provider responsible for rendering basic nursing care—a vocational nurse practices under the direction of a physician or registered nurse. 

Registered nurses (RNs) hold a higher nursing position compared to licensed vocational nurses (LVNs). One distinction between the two is that LVNs operate under the guidance of registered nurses and typically undergo less formal training. While their tasks might overlap, LVNs usually shoulder different responsibilities than R.N.s.

Medical imaging, sometimes referred to as radiology, is the field of medicine in which medical professionals recreate various images of body parts for diagnostic or treatment purposes. The procedures within medical imaging encompass non-invasive examinations that allow physicians to diagnose injuries and illnesses without resorting to intrusive measures. 

The four five types of medical imaging include Ultrasound, X-rays, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Computed Tomography (C.T.), and Nuclear Medicine.Ultrasound Imaging, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), Pediatric X-ray Imaging, and Medical X-ray Imaging.