According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of psychology is expected to grow by 14% between 2016 and 2026, which represents faster-than-average growth. In general, psychologists study the social processes, behavior, cognition, and emotional responses of people in order to help their patients improve their mental processing abilities and interpersonal relationships. As such, many people who pursue a degree in psychology may find themselves asking, “What can I do with a psychology degree in the medical field?”
Since psychology is inherently a part of the medical field as it relates to one’s overall well-being and mental health, there are many career options within the medical field that are relative to one’s degree level. Let’s take a look at some of the opportunities and their job roles.
Career Options in the Medical Field
There are seemingly endless choices for career paths when it comes to having your degree in Psychology. This list is broken down by degree type so that you can align your educational goals with your desired career path.
1. Associate’s Degree in Psychology
An associate’s degree is a higher education degree that is typically earned in just 2 years. With an associate’s degree in psychology, graduates can enter the field in many entry-level roles, such as:
- Mental Health Technician: A mental health technician, which may also be referred to as a mental health assistant, aids in giving care to those suffering from mental health issues. They work in hospital settings under the supervision of mental health care professionals, including doctors and psychiatrists. In fact, you can become a mental health technician with nothing more than a high school diploma; however, having a relevant associate’s degree can expand your job opportunities.
- Medical Record Keeper: As a primarily administrative job, mental record keepers (or medical records technician) helps to keep medical records organized and updated in a medical office. While it’s also possible to work in this role with a high school diploma, some employers may require additional training or an associate’s degree.
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2. Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology
Those with a bachelor’s degree have expanded work opportunities. With a bachelor’s degree in psychology, graduates can work more closely and directly with patients, as well as serve as intermediaries between psychologists and patients.
- Rehab Specialist: Working with patients with mental disabilities or illnesses, rehab specialists design plans to help their patients live their everyday lives better. From teaching personal grooming skills to planning recreational activities, specialists can make a huge difference in their patient’s lives.
- Laboratory Assistant: As the title implies, laboratory assistants work in labs and help to process samples, record findings, and organize results. They are generally highly analytical and have to possess a strong ability to pay attention to details.
- Psychiatric Technician: Psychiatric technicians work closely with patients and assist them by listening and then work to plan recreational activities, admit and discharge them, and record their progress. In this role, you may work with patients who are disabled, mentally ill or overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction.
- Case Manager: A case manager oversees many aspects of patient care, including: patient admission and orientation, record maintenance, treatment analysis, and budget and expense allocation. The role requires someone who is a strong communicator, highly organized, and good at problem-solving.
3. Master’s Degree in Psychology
After completing a master’s degree in psychology, which generally takes 2 to 4 years, gaining a high-level position within the medical field becomes a possibility. Here’s a look at some of the career paths:
- Addictions Psychologist: Addictions psychologists devise treatment plans to help those suffering from addiction to overcome their dependence on drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc. They work alongside patients to first quit the vice and then maintain a long-term plan to keep them on track.
- Psychologist Supervisor: Working under a Director of Psychology, a psychology supervisor organizes programs to treat mental health disorders. Sometimes, they have the opportunity to train new employees and oversee their work. For some employers, the role may require a doctoral degree, as well.
- Mental Health Counselor: A mental health counselor encourages people to discuss their emotions and feelings so that they can work through them to positively shape their overall mental health and wellness.
- Rehab Counselor: For those with either a mental health issue or physical disability, rehab counselors help their patients overcome such drawbacks. In doing so, they assist patients in managing day-to-day activities, from work, interpersonal relationships, and recreational activities.
- Pain Psychologist: Pain psychology is a specialization within the field of psychology that is developing and may require a doctoral specialization in the subject area. Pain psychologists work with patients who suffer from chronic pain and ailments so that they can cope with the negative side effects of chronic pain, including lack of ability to exercise, decreased self-worth, depression, anxiety, and more.
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Skills and What You’ll Learn
Not only do psychology degrees teach a wide range of subjects within the medical and science field, but they also provide you with many transferable skills. Some of the coursework for the major includes classes in biology, cognitive psychology, ethical issues in psychology, history of psychology, and more.
Additionally, those who major in the field will gain skills that will benefit both themselves and their patients for a lifetime. These include: writing skills, critical thinking, time management, communication, research, prioritization, problem-solving capabilities, and more.
Degrees in psychology merge an array of interdisciplinary knowledge that will provide students with the expertise to work in a variety of medical settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation clinics, and laboratories, to name a few.
The Medical Relation
A lot of people desire to work within the medical field, but do not want to become doctors, nurses, physician assistants or the like. Instead, you can opt to pursue a degree in psychology and still reap the benefits of helping people with their mental and physical health and well-being.
Those who hold a psychology degree benefit from the lucrative career opportunities, the wide array of career paths and specializations, and the fact that they work in a field that is constantly evolving. Since every patient is different, each day is a new adventure and provides a chance to positively impact the lives of others.