Unexpected Medical Career Paths

medical stethoscope and mask composed with red foiled chocolate hearts
Madeleine Karydes
Madeleine Karydes

Madeleine attended UC Berkeley and double-majored in English and Media Studies. She is now an integral part of the Empowerly team.

Are you curious about going to medical school? For those of you asking what comes after, let’s discuss some unexpected medical career paths. (And not all of them require 8+ years of schooling!) In fact, a strong foundation in the STEM fields provides useful perspectives on many seemingly-unrelated sectors. From writing, to data analysis, to more hands-on positions dealing with wounds or blood, there are many options. The sooner you start imagining your future, the sooner you can start working to make it happen! 

Why Medical School?

As a matter of fact, the study of medicine is one of the most common interests our students share at Empowerly. Some want to help patients directly; others want the challenge of solving diagnostic puzzles. Some are drawn to the fact that curing disease and easing pain requires technical knowledge and skill. Additionally, it typically offers consistent salary ranges. But, we’re not here to prove that medicine is important! 

If you know that you want to work with medicine, that’s great. You should know, becoming a doctor isn’t the only end goal! So for those of you who haven’t quite made up your mind, check out the following options. 

Wait… Do I Have to Decide Now?

Nope! For high schoolers, you don’t even have to declare your major when you apply to most colleges. However, as they say: knowledge is power…  so learn all your options. It’s worthwhile noting that the traditional (or perhaps “expected”) career path for medical school creates Doctors (or MD’s). This is a great aspiration too! 

So, why do we at Empowerly know it’s useful to start thinking about your career path now? First, because becoming an MD bypasses many of the specialities we will discuss in this article. Second, because it can help you make smaller decisions today. Whether that is choosing a major, picking certain classes on your schedule, or just planning for graduate school applications, having vision puts you ahead of the pack. 

This information is here to help you. Hopefully, you can understand that there are plenty of unexpected medical career paths that you may not even have heard of yet! Save yourself time, stress, and even money by making the most informed decisions you can. Next, let’s learn about unexpected medical career paths together.

Unexpected Medical Career Paths

Physician’s Assistant

A Physician’s Assistant, or PA, is able to perform many of the same tasks as a Medical Doctor, or MD. However, a PA operates under the supervision of an MD. This profession is available in all states and medical settings. Read more here!

Legal, media, or corporate consultant

A solid medical background holds incredible value to many other sectors. For example, you can consult to prove or disprove medical information in a legal case; make recommendations for best practices in a business; or even provide context to a news outlet. The sky’s the limit.

Medical writer

The communication of scientific information is critical. However, most of the time you need a medical professional to confirm the accuracy. A medical writer is able to do both! You tackle journal articles, studies, reports, and more

Anatomical illustrator

Writing isn’t the only aspect of accurate communication. Anatomically accurate diagrams, teaching materials, and patient resources are necessary! Who do you think creates life science textbooks? If you have a talent for accurate drawings and design, you could impact many lives. Check it out.

Wound care specialist

Looking for hands-on work? This one requires a stronger stomach. If viewing wounds and infected tissue doesn’t phase you, however, this could be your calling. These specialists help treat and clean flesh wounds, and provide additional therapies, to ensure rapid healing! 


The perfusionist is the one who operates a heart-lung machine while a surgeon works on a patient on the operating table. Not only must you be trained on the machines and anatomy of these key life-sustaining organs, you also need to be comfortable in an operating room. It’s a lot of responsibility, to be sure. Read more here.


Nope, this doesn’t have anything to do with phlegm. Instead, phlebotomists draw blood samples! If you have a cool head around needles and the ability to reassure patients who may be scared, this is a necessary element of medical care. Appropriately and safely drawing blood helps many. See more details here.


A cytotechnologist examines samples and cell tissues under a microscope to assist with diagnostics and research. Cytotechnologists have the chance to work with some of the most cutting edge machines, and collaborate with other medical professionals regarding their results. Explore more here.

Instructor or professor

Of course, if you enjoyed your experience in school and loved the experience of learning new facts, teaching could be for you. Dedicated and passionate minds that can inspire future students to understand medicine are always needed. 

Biomedical engineer

Overlapping with the other engineering fields, this career still requires medical knowledge. From designing new life support technology to cutting edge prosthetics, science can do incredible things. For those of you with a math and spatial reasoning aptitude, this career holds promise to continue to grow as technology develops.

Informatics specialist 

Informatics specialists don’t work directly with patients, but rather, the charts. The amount of medical data recorded in a single hospital is probably more than you might think! With a simultaneous emphasis in computer science, You can be the hero that collects, understands, and analyzes this valuable data. Read about it here.


Did any of these strike your fancy? If 8 years of schooling plus several years of residency isn’t for you, consider these options! Many allow you to start working with patients much earlier than that. 

If this was helpful to you, that’s great! We at Empowerly love helping students explore their options for the future, including college and beyond. Reach out to talk to us and get answers to your questions. 

Questions? Let us know!