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Careers in Health Care - What They Offer for Students with Disabilities

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  • Synopsis: Most of the jobs in health care are covered by the ADA so health care careers offer a unique opportunity to students with disabilities - Published: 2010-12-15 (Rev. 2013-05-01). For further information pertaining to this article contact: Rebecca Broyce.

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"Students considering making a career choice should consider the vast array of health care career possibilities as there still is a nationwide shortage of skilled health care professionals."

A career in the health care industry can be very rewarding. When we look at the magnitude of the health care industry we can see why: health care jobs comprise nearly 11 percent of the entire workforce, the projected growth in the health care industry is higher than for most other career opportunities, and almost half of the fastest growing career paths are in health care.

Most of the jobs in health care are covered by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act, 2008), so health care careers offer a unique opportunity to students with disabilities.

Students considering making a career choice should consider the vast array of health care career possibilities as there still is a nationwide shortage of skilled health care professionals. Add to this fact that the growing United States population ensures that there will be more people requiring health care services in the coming years. Moreover, having a disability can be advantageous in some situations when working with patients because it may be easier for one to identify with the patient's difficulties. Here is a list of some potential good careers in health care that students with disabilities might want to consider:

Pharmacist and Pharmacy Technicians: Jobs in the pharmacy industry are wide-open with the proper education. Students who require the use of a wheelchair can consider a career in pharmacy. Students with hearing or visual disabilities have found successful careers in pharmacy as long as the proper accommodations were supplied. Even students with mental or learning disabilities have also worked in the pharmacy field when allowed reasonable accommodations.

Physical and Occupational Therapists: Physical and occupational therapists work intensively with recovering patients; however, they do spend a good deal of their time on their feet physically assisting patients. These positions require that you like to interact with people and be able to physically lift moderate to heavy weights. Given the nature of their duties these workers also need good manual dexterity. Some students with certain types of physical disabilities might not be suited for these positions. However, students with visual or hearing impairments, learning disabilities, and certain mental disabilities could qualify for these positions.

Speech Therapists: Speech therapy requires one to work with a patients' cognitive and speech impediments. Therefore, persons with visual, speech, or hearing disabilities may find that these positions are not suited for them. Those with other physical or mental disabilities might want to consider this career.

Nursing Careers: Nursing can be physically demanding, but some areas of specialization are less physically demanding than others. For example an ER nurse or a nurse on an intensive care unit would be on their feet much of the time and be required to assist in transferring patients, whereas a psychiatric nurse, might not be required to do much lifting. So people with certain types of physical disabilities might not be qualified to perform some nursing activities; however, those with less severe physical disabilities might manage just fine. Students with visual impairments, hearing disabilities, learning disabilities, or mental illnesses can also find successful careers as nurses when given proper accommodations.

Careers in Mental Health: Students can find a variety of suitable positions as counselors, psychologists or psychiatrists. Most mental health professionals usually work sitting down, so accommodations are not needed for people who require wheelchairs. Mental health counselors with hearing disabilities can communicate through sign language with other hearing-impaired patients; however, there will be a number of patients that will be uncomfortable discussing personal issues through an interpreter.

Physicians: ER doctors will need to be able to handle the rigorous routine; surgeons require good manual dexterity and remain on their feet for extended periods. However, physicians often can perform many of their duties while sitting down. Physicians with impaired vision might find difficulty in certain environments, whereas physicians with hearing disabilities could function in many different areas.

The potential opportunities in the health care field for students with disabilities are very promising. And of course health care workers with disabilities could function in a large number of non-clinical positions such as teaching or management. However, health care positions require specialized education and different areas of specialization will require different levels of schooling. Consider this and search online schools for programs that best suit your interest and needs.


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