Academic Health Center

Health Careers Center

Health Careers

Considering a health career? Use the list below as a resource to help you explore different health professions quickly and easily. Learn about what the University offers for education, as well as other areas in the health field. Find your fit in a health profession and get started today.

Academic Health Center Programs

Explore the links to find detailed information on these programs offered through the University of Minnesota's Academic Health Center. Interested in a specialty area in medicine, nursing, pharmacy, dentistry, or public health? Explore these and other programs offered at the University of Minnesota.

  • Complementary & Alternative Medicine

    The Profession

    In the study of complementary and alternative health care, there are several areas of specialty. Careers options in this field include health coaches, massage therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, ethno-pharmacists and therapeutic landscape designers.

    People practicing in these fields may provide a holistic approach to health and healing. They will diagnose and treat ailments using the self-healing abilities of the body however treatments may be used in conjunction with traditional medical care.

    Self Assessment
    Students interested in this field should enjoy working with and helping others. A background in science including courses such as biology and chemistry is recommended. Chiropractors, acupuncturists and massage therapists are licensed through the state of Minnesota.

    Career Options
    Complementary and alternative health care is one of the fastest growing health care segments in the United States. In particular, there are strong growth areas in chiropractic care and massage therapy. Common employment settings include clinics, hospitals and healing centers. Increasingly, many providers operate private practices.

    Depending on the direction you would like to go in this area, different educational pathways will exist.

    Alternative Therapies: View the University of Minnesota's Center for Spirituality and Healing website for additional information on education in this area. For example, students can pursue a graduate minor, a post-baccalaureate certificate in Integrative Therapies & Healing Practices, or a graduate certificate in Health Coaching.

    Chiropractor: If you are interested in becoming a chiropractor, try exploring accredited educational options at the Council on Chiropractic Education.

    Massage Therapy: Look at the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation for a list of accredited schools.

    U of M Program
    Center for Spirituality and Healing

  • Dentistry

    The Profession

    Who they are: The dental profession consists of health care providers whose primary mission is oral health wellness. The profession is made up of dentists, dental hygienists and support personnel such as dental chairside assistants, receptionists, practice managers, business managers, insurance and other office staff.

    Dentists are part of the total health care team and consider the complete health of the patients, understand his/her medication and medical condition-especially when the disease or medication affects the dental condition or treatment. A dentist's treatment is often in concert with medical treatment for a patient, such as the health of the cardiovascular system, treatment of communicable diseases or systemic diseases, as well as treatment of developmental, psychological, or behavioral problems.

    What they do: Dentists are primarily concerned with the preservation and maintenance of the health of the teeth, periodontium (gums and supportive bone), muscles of mastication and temporomandibular joints (TMJs). Their skills focus on prevention and restoration of the common dental diseases, treating associated infections and developmental abnormalities. They are involved with prevention of oral diseases, esthetics, form and function, and comfort and wellness.

    Dentists are not only providers of clinical care and health but are most often the managers of a small business. They can be personnel mangers, business managers and planners, financial planners for themselves and their team. They are expert at people skills; at establishing relations and communication with their team (staff), their patients and the community.

    Dentists must be licensed in the state in which they practice. For licensure in Minnesota, a dentist must:

    Where do Dentists Work?

    Most dentists work in private practice. They can practice alone or in partnership with one or more other dentists. Dental businesses, clinics and hospitals also employ dentists. Dentists have the option of practicing in the military, the Public Health Service, the Indian Health Service and the National Health Service Corps.

    Most dentists are general practitioners, roughly 79%. Others choose to specialize in the following areas:

    • Orthodontics
    • Oral and maxillofacial surgery
    • Pediatric dentistry
    • Periodontics
    • Prosthodontics
    • Endodontics
    • Public health dentistry
    • Oral pathology
    • Oral and maxillofacial radiology

    The Future of Dentistry

    The future of dentistry looks great! Because of the aging population and the number of practicing dentists at or near retirement age, the dentist to population ratio is also changing. Dental graduates currently find a relatively easy market in which they can locate practices.

    For employment opportunities, there are many underserved populations and areas, but even the well served areas such as metropolitan settings are becoming more available than in the past. There is a strong emergence of the fee-for-service practice of dentistry.

    Financing the purchase of part of an existing practice is now usually very attainable. Even start-up practices are often now supported by banks and other lending institutions.

    Click here for salary information.

    Is Dentistry Right for You?

    Dentists must combine a range of skills, including: technical knowledge, interpersonal communication and the ability to work well with patients, business administration and management, recordkeeping, self-discipline, and the ability to supervise employees.

    Think about your skills and abilities, as well as your comfort level in working closely with patients. Do you have solid hand-eye coordination? Do you enjoy working with your hands, and have a flair for art and creation? Do you enjoy studying the sciences and do well in those courses?

    Talk to dentists you know to find out more about the profession and if it would be a fit for you. Look at the School of Dentistry website, to learn more about the profession and education required. In addition to prerequiste courses and other requirements, know that students applying to dental school must take the Dental Admission Test (DAT).

    Attend an information session to find out what you need to do now to apply!


    U of M Program

    DDS Program

  • Dental Therapy

    U of M Program

    Dental Therapy

  • Dental Hygiene

    The Profession

    Dental hygiene today is an exciting field with many opportunities for employment and professional growth.  It is a career that is socially significant, professionally challenging, and personally rewarding.

    What they do: The dental hygienist is a licensed healthcare professional who provides educational, clinical, and therapeutic services in order to promote optimal oral health. They are skilled in preventing diseases such as dental caries (cavities), periodontal (gum) disease and oral cancer through education and treatment. The dental hygienist is a clinician, an educator, a researcher, a change agent and consumer advocate, and a manager.

    Where they work: A dental hygienist is a partner in the dental healthcare team, and works in variety of settings, from private dental offices and clinics; to federal, state, and local health departments; to school districts and departments of education. With advanced education, dental hygienists play an important role in teaching and research, as well as in the administration of education and public health programs.

    The Program

    The education become a dental hygienist at the University of Minnesota is a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene. Applicants to the dental hygiene program must complete prerequisite courses prior to application. The program includes three years of professional coursework in the basic sciences and includes biochemistry, microbiology, histology, pathology, and physiology.

    Students should have good interpersonal communication skills and must have good manual dexterity, among other requirements for the program.

    The professional program also includes courses in dental and head neck anatomy; preclinical and clinical dental hygiene; communication skills; patient assessment; cariology and periodontology; oral radiology; pathology; biomaterials; public health; pharmacology; local anesthesia and pain control; research methods; orthodontics and pediatric dentistry; geriatrics; and advanced clinical rotations. A wide range of theoretical and clinical experiences in treating traditional and special-needs patients is provided. Students also participate in a number of community-based clinical and education programs with diverse patient populations.

    The Career

    Employment of dental hygienists in Minnesota and nationally is expected to grow due to the increasing demand for dental care and the active role hygienists play in preventative dental care activities (such as cleaning).

    There is typically excellent demand, solid placement rates, and competitive pay for qualified hygienists. More than half of all dental hygienists work part-time (less than 35 hours a week) and many work in multiple settings. The majority of dental hygienists work in private dental offices. Some work in public health agencies, schools, and hospitals. Population growth and greater retention of natural teeth will stimulate demand for dental hygienists. Click here for salary and employment trend data.

    For licensure/registration in Minnesota, dental hygienists must graduate from a dental hygiene school accredited by the Commission on Accreditation, pass the National Board Examination for dental hygienists, pass the clinical examination administered by the Central Regional Dental Testing Service within five years of application for licensure, pass the Minnesota Jurisprudence examination covering the statutes and rules of the Board within five years of application for licensure/registration, and submit an application fee for licensure/registration.

    U of M Program

    Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene

  • Genetic Counseling

    The Profession

    Genetic counselors are medical professionals. They work with individuals and families with a medical history or increased personal risk for a genetic condition or with individuals/couples at risk for having a child with a birth defect or genetic condition.

    They provide information and supportive counseling, coordinate testing and connect families with community resources such as support groups and funding agencies. As members of a health care team, many counselors have administrative and management responsibilities.

    The future looks excellent. Projections indicate that the field will grow approximately 14-19% between 2008-2018. Additionally, current and anticipated genetic research into predisposition, adult disorders, and new reproductive technologies will lead to a greater need for genetic counseling professionals in traditional and expanded medical settings. Genetic counselors are involved in teaching, research, and screening programs.

    Depending on geographic location and years of experience, the median wages in 2010 for genetic counselors were approximately $44,000.

    Is This Profession a Fit for You?

    Most genetic counseling students have undergraduate degrees in biology, genetics, nursing, psychology, public health, social work or a related biological science. However, individuals from broad based educational backgrounds and those with a keen interest in and knowledge of basic genetics and some counseling experience are encouraged to apply.

    Skills in communications, listening and counseling along with a genuine caring compassion and empathic sensitivity to ethnicity and cross cultural issues are considered extremely important qualities.
    Education Required

    Genetic Counselors must complete a masters degree from a training program which includes a variety of courses focusing on genetics, psychosocial theory and counseling techniques. Counselors who have completed a masters level training program are generally eligible to take the American Board of Genetic Counseling exam.

    (Source: National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc.)


    U of M Program

    Genetic Counseling

  • Health Informatics
  • Medical Laboratory Science

    The Profession
    What they do: Medical laboratory scientists evaluate test results and correlate results with other laboratory data, playing a significant role on the healthcare team in diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of patients. A medical laboratory scientist performs complex procedures in areas like hematology, chemistry, virology, and microbiology, while conducting a variety of laboratory tests on blood, body fluids, and tissues.

    Where they work: The range of potential work settings is growing to include: hospitals and clinic laboratories, commercial firms, research facilities, veterinary clinics, and industrial laboratories. Employment opportunities are expected to increase as well in all areas of clinical laboratory practice, such as molecular diagnostics. There are a wide variety of opportunities within and outside the traditional hospital setting.

    Is This Profession a Fit for You?

    A prospective medical laboratory scientist should develop capabilities in problem-solving, accuracy, working well under pressure, diligence, written and oral communication, and organization. It is critically important for this professional to be committed to the profession, and to enjoy scientific exploration and investigation.

    The University of Minnesota program cites essential functions, offering you some hints at what will be needed in this profession, which is a great way to see if this program is a fit for you both personally and professionally.

    Education and Prerequisites

    Medical Laboratory Science is an undergraduate degree program at the University of Minnesota. Students complete prerequisites and then apply to the program for admission. The degree is offered at both the Twin Cities campus and the Rochester campus. 

    Having previous laboratory or research experience is advantageous when applying to the program and will allow you to gain a better sense of working in a laboratory environment.

    Prepare to Apply

    Applicants to the baccalaureate program need to be familiar with the admission requirements of the program. Students first take prerequisite courses and apply for admissions to the program at the beginning of their junior year, to complete program requirements and other needed courses required for the degree.

    U of M Program

    Medical Laboratory Sciences


  • Medicine

    The Profession

    Physicians work with patients to maintain or restore their health. They promote disease prevention, diagnose illness or injury, and prescribe treatments including medication, surgery, physical therapy, and others. Physicians do many things in their day-to-day practice, including: examining patients, obtaining medical histories, and ordering, performing, and interpreting diagnostic tests. They counsel patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive health care. Some physicians are clinical researchers and spend time in patient-oriented research. Physicians receive one of two types of training - either as an allopathic physician (M.D.), or an osteopathic physician (D.O.) The primary difference between the two is in the training they receive (learn more about D.O.s here). The University of Minnesota Medical School grants the M.D. degree. There are 136 allopathic medical schools (AAMC), and 26 colleges of osteopathic medicine (AACOM).

    Effective physicians who work with patients must be caring, emotionally stable, and able to make decisions in emergencies. They must commit to continuing education throughout their career in order to stay current with medical advances. Upon completion of medical school, physicians take a licensing exam and complete a residency program. Physicians wanting to practice a specialty must complete additional training.  

    Specialty Areas Within Medicine

    Explore the many specialty areas offered in the field of medicine. The University of Minnesota Medical School offers the following specializations, including:

    • Anesthesiology
    • Dermatology
    • Emergency Medicine
    • Family Medicine & Community Health
    • Neurology
    • Neurosurgery
    • Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Women's Health
    • Ophthalmology
    • Orthopaedic Surgery
    • Otolaryngology
    • Pediatrics
    • Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
    • Psychiatry
    • Radiology
    • Surgery
    • Therapeutic Radiology
    • Urologic Surgery

    Is This Profession a Fit for You?

    Medicine is a demanding career. You need to have a strong academic record to be a competitive applicant and you need to enjoy science and math. However, while medicine has a strong science foundation, you also need to like working directly with people.

    A good physician is caring, empathetic, a good listener, and someone who can explain medical and technical details so that people not trained in the field of medicine can understand them. In addition, physicians work with people from many different backgrounds, so they need to be able to navigate diverse languages, cultural norms, educational differences, and value differences.

    Start Preparing Today

    Need help in getting organized in your application to medical school? Complete the Planning for Medical School online workshop:

    • Develop a personalized action plan for getting prepared for medical school
    • Make an appointment with a Health Careers Center career counselor
    • Discuss your plans and goals
    • Get answers to your questions

    Look here for details on the Planning for Medical School online workshop and other other online workshops.

    Understanding the Prerequisites for Medical School

    There are over 130 accredited medical colleges in this country. While prerequisite courses and application processes may appear similar across different schools, there are important differences you need to understand as an applicant. Your first step should be to review the sources available through Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Look here for most comprehensive information on applying to a medical school.

    Look here for specific details on the University of Minnesota Medical School prerequisite and pre-admission information.

    Learn more about the U of M Medical School by attending an information session designed for pre-med students.

    What Admissions Committees are Looking for in an Applicant

    The most important thing to know is that admissions committees are looking for a number of different qualities in future physicians. Here are some traits that medical school admissions committees seek in their candidates:

    • Academic excellence in the physical sciences combined with knowledge in humanities and social sciences.
    • Evidence that you understand the field of medicine, most likely obtained through volunteer experience in a patient-care environment.
    • Strong character qualities like leadership, compassion, resilience, and tolerance.
    • Strong communication skills, including verbal and written.

    Learn more here about the University of Minnesota Medical School’s selection criteria.

    Learn more about the U of M Medical School by attending an information session designed for pre-med students.

    Gain Relevant Experience

    Gaining experience is an important part of preparing for medical school. Experience will help you determine if a career in medicine is a good fit for you and whether the time investment will be worth it to you. Remember that you will be spending at least seven years of your life in school, with additional training for a profession in medicine!

    The best experience will put you in contact with patients, and physicians. Those experiences will help you to understand both the patient perspective and the types of activities physicians are engaged in through their work. There are many different opportunities to volunteer in settings that will give you patient and physician exposure. Look here for links to volunteering opportunities.

    Applying to Medical School

    Applying to medical school is a multifaceted process. There are many steps and pieces to it. Understanding what is expected of you early will help you to manage the process effectively.

    Visit the websites of individual medical schools for specific information about their programs. Many schools provide a list of frequently asked questions about their program, so be sure to explore that information! Those will be the best place to find information describing program highlights, special emphases, admission requirements, and important advice for prospective students.

    After determining which schools to which you will apply, plan to complete all of the prerequisites, prepare for and take the Medical College Admission test (MCAT), write the required personal statement(s), obtain letters of recommendation, send your transcripts, and complete the online application. Most medical schools use the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), which is a national, online application. Note that it can take a number a weeks to process your application, after all of the information is received.

    Be prepared for additional elements and supplemental applications as well. View detailed information on the application process here.

  • Mortuary Science

    The Profession
    Funeral directors provide support to the bereaved during initial stages of their grief; they remove the deceased from the place of death, prepare the body according to the wishes of the survivors and requirements of the law, secure information for legal documents, direct funeral ceremonies, and help individuals adapt to changes in their lives following a death through post-death counseling and support group activities.

    Undergraduate coursework generally includes: anatomy and physiology, pathology, embalming procedures, restorative arts, psychological aspects of death and dying, grief or bereavement counseling, funeral home management, and legal requirements.

    An individualized apprenticeship with a funeral director or licensed embalmer is also required for licensure. Look here for a list of clinical sites used for the University's mortuary science program.

    In high school, prospective students should take laboratory science courses such as biology, chemistry, and physics as well as psychology courses in order to prepare for admission to undergraduate programs in mortuary science. Work or internship experiences in funeral homes are another good way for students to learn more about the practical aspects and necessary characteristics of working in the field.

    Funeral directors often work irregular hours and sometimes on an on-call basis with evening and weekend shifts. Working as a funeral director can be stressful and emotionally demanding. In addition to technical and scientific skills, prospective funeral directors should also exhibit tact and compassion for their work as helping professionals.

    Read these student testimonials from U of M students on why these students chose the mortuary science program.

    Exploring Options
    In Minnesota, employment for funeral directors is expected to grow about as fast as average for all occupations. There will be job openings associated with retirements and meeting the needs of the aging population in the next decade. Funeral directors practice in both small homes and, increasingly, as part of large corporations. Median wages for funeral directors in 2010 were reported to be approximately $54,000.

    U of M Program

    Mortuary Science

  • Nursing

    The Profession
    Nursing professionals provide preventative and restorative health care to patients in a variety of settings. Nurses work to promote health, prevent disease, and help patients cope with illnesses. Registered nurses (RNs) are highly educated professionals who help people maintain good health and/or recover from illness or injury. Responsibilities of an RN can include: administering therapies and medications; participating in surgical procedures; managing units; teaching, assessing and counseling patients; responding in emergencies; and supervising others.

    A nurse who has their undergraduate degree (BSN) can return to school for an advanced degree and specialized training in:

    • Adolescent Health
    • Adult Health
    • Children with Special Health Care Needs
    • Family Health
    • Gerontology
    • Informatics
    • Nurse Anesthesia
    • Midwifery
    • Nursing and Healthcare Systems Administration
    • Pediatrics
    • Psychiatric-Mental Health
    • Public Health
    • Women's Health

    Students who wish to be nurses must be able to accept responsibility to direct patient care, delegate duties for care as appropriate to others, supervise others, and determine when consultation is necessary. As advocates for patients, families and communities, nurses should be caring and sympathetic. Nursing is a science that requires in-depth knowledge, skills and understanding. Nursing deals not only with a person's biological needs, but their psychosocial and cultural needs as well.

    Exploring Options
    Changes in health care trends, an aging RN workforce, increases in job opportunities in many settings have increased the demand for more nurses in the workforce than ever before. RNs can work in a variety of health care settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, long term care facilities, private homes, business and industry, HMOs, public health agencies including rehabilitation and government, schools, and the armed forces. Look here for salary information.

    School of Nursing Programs

    Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
    Master of Nursing (MN)
    Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
    Doctoral (PhD)

  • Occupational Therapy

    The Profession

    What they do: Occupational therapists blend scientific knowledge of the human body and mind with an understanding of the challenges of disability, environment and culture. Occupational therapists serve as vital members of a treatment team.

    Professional duties include providing direct treatment, managing treatment programs, promoting health and wellness, and conducting clinical research in order to help individuals maximize their independence and quality of life.

    Who they work with: They work with children and adults who have physical, cognitive, or emotional disabilities that interfere with their ability to engage in life's tasks.

    Where they work: Occupational therapists work in diverse settings including: hospitals, schools, rehabilitation and mental health centers, home healthcare, college/university teaching, skilled nursing facilities, and private practice.

    Is This Profession a Fit for You?

    As an occupational therapist, you should enjoy working directly with people and helping them to achieve greater independence and satisfaction in life. You should develop skills in creative problem solving, interpersonal communication, attention to detail, and manual dexterity.

    Education and Prerequisites

    The University of Minnesota offers a Masters in Occupational Therapy program. View program prerequisite information and pre-application requirements before applying to the program.

    Transfer prerequisite course planning lists to the U of M Occupational Therapy program are available if you are taking prerequisite courses at another college or university. See prerequisite link for more information

    Volunteer and/or work experiences will strengthen your application during the application process. Gain volunteer or work experience where you have a chance to work closely with people who have a disability or other places that help people work through the physical challenges they endure on a daily basis.

    Prepare to Apply

    Application to the Program in Occupational Therapy at the University of Minnesota includes completing a universal application at This includes submitting official transcripts from each school you have attended, taking seven (7) core prerequisite courses and a medical terminology course, submitting the application processing fees, and submitting supplemental materials required directly to the program. Look here for details on applying to the program. See below link for additional information: Universal Application.

    U of M Program
    Occupational Therapy

  • Pharmacy

    The Profession

    The responsibilities of pharmacists have expanded substantially from their traditional role of dispensing medicine prescribed by authorized health care professionals. Pharmacists today consult physicians, work in direct patient care and educate patients about their medications. Some pharmacists work in research, exploring the development of new pharmaceuticals.

    Is This Profession a Fit for You?

    If you have strong skills in chemistry, math and science, you might consider becoming a pharmacist. Attention to detail is another important quality of the work of a pharmacist.

    Solid communication skills and problem-solving abilities are also a need for pharmacists. Many pharmacists work directly with patients, so communication and being able to problem-solve with patients is important, since they need to be certain their patients have the appropriate or correct medications.

    Due to the nature of their jobs, pharmacists are required to be on their feet for long periods of time particularly in community pharmacies. As pharmacists become more involved in educating patients about their medications, as well as possible drug interactions and side effects, interpersonal skills and a desire to help others are vital characteristics.

    Additionally, pharmacists are increasingly required to have business skills, supervisory skills, and management abilities, in running the pharmacy.

    Explore whether the field of pharmacy is right for you at the American Association of College of Pharmacies (AACP) website.

    Education and Prerequisites

    After completing required coursework and other prerequisites, aspiring pharmacists apply to a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program, which takes four years to complete. Like other health professions, admission is competitive.

    Prerequisites and requirements for pharmacy schools can differ from school to school. Explore the admissions page for details on the requirements for the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy. To learn more about general requirements, look here for the Pharmacy School Admission Requirements (PSAR).

    To gain experience before you apply, the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy suggests participating in community service, college extracurricular activities, and activities that show leadership. Leadership experience and sustained community service are excellent ways to show your commitment to serving others, just as you will do in a pharmacy career.

    Prepare to Apply

    A good starting place when considering application to a pharmacy school is the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP). You will also find information on the Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS), a centralized application service for applicants applying to colleges and schools of pharmacy. They provide a comprehensive checklist and other information useful in the planning process.

    Review the requirements for the schools you are most interested in. If you are planning to apply to the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy, view the prerequisites and application process guidelines here.

    U of M Program

    College of Pharmacy (PharmD)

  • Physical Therapy

    The Profession

    Who they are: Physical therapists are health care professionals who evaluate/treat people with health problems that impair bodily movement.

    The profession is dedicated to promoting/maintaining maximum physical function in healthy individuals and to restoring the highest possible level of physical function in individuals impaired by disease or injury.

    Physical therapy is a healing art that recognizes the nature of the human spirit that mobilizes the body and the importance of handling people with tolerance, compassion, dignity, and wisdom.

    What they are trained to do: Physical therapists are trained to be generalists with skill in evaluation/treatment of patients, resources management, supervision, education, consultation, screening, and referral – serving patients with a variety of clinical conditions.

    Where they work: They work in a variety of settings:  hospitals, rehabilitation centers, long-term care facilities, acute care facilities, private practice, school systems, industry, sports medicine, and home health.

    Is This Profession a Fit for You?

    Physical therapists integrate solid basic science and clinical knowledge with strong interpersonal skills to direct care for persons of varied backgrounds and health conditions. It is an active profession, assisting patients with movement. Effective problem solving and motivational skills are essential.
    Projected Future of the Profession

    Factors such as aging population and improved management of chronic conditions have created a greater need for physical therapists.  Both national and local projections indicate a continued growth in physical therapy jobs through at least the year 2014. Click here for salary information.
    Education and Prerequisites

    The University of Minnesota offers a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. View the program details, prerequisite information, and experiential requirements before applying to the program. Details on those elements and admission statistics can be found here:
    Physical Therapy website.

    U of M Program

    Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)

  • Public Health

    The Profession

    The field of public health: Public health is defined by any health threat that can be prevented or health condition that can be improved.

    Public health professionals work to prevent illness, disease and injury with whole communities and populations at a time. They conduct and implement research, promote health and disease prevention interventions, and develop policies to improve and enhance quality of life.

    In their work, public health professionals also address a very wide range of public health threats including infectious diseases (such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and influenza), chronic diseases (like diabetes and cardiovascular disease) and other epidemics (such as obesity). They work to implement safety laws and policy to positively impact people at work, school, at home, and beyond.

    The field of public health is also constantly changing and evolving to reflect new threats, such as bioterrorism and avian influenza, but also includes policies, such as assuring smoke-free restaurants for employees and customers.

    Who they are: The field of public health includes a wide-array of professionals, including epidemiologists, community health educators, biostatisticians, health administrators, health researchers, environmental health specialists, nutritionists, and maternal and child health specialists to name a few.

    Public health professionals come from a wide-array of backgrounds, both in medical fields and non-medical fields. They might have academic backgrounds in social sciences, liberal arts, or quantitative fields. They might have backgrounds in health fields such as medicine, nursing, nutrition, and veterinary medicine, to name a few. They might even have backgrounds in other professional areas, such as law or journalism.

    Is this Profession a Fit for You?

    If you are you interested in a health profession, but prefer not to be involved in direct patient care, public health can offer you many options.

    Public health professionals demonstrate a wide range of core competencies, including:

    • assessing risk factors and patterns of disease,
    • conducting primary research,
    • evaluating programs,
    • planning, organizing, and managing projects and people,
    • demonstrating cultural sensitivity and competency, and
    • applying systems-based leadership.

    If you like math and science and the idea of tracking diseases is interesting, you might like epidemiology or biostatistics. If you want to help educate whole communities how to stay healthy, or are interested in designing policies to help encourage healthy behaviors, you might be interested in community health education. If you enjoy business, administration and policy development, you might like public health administration and policy or healthcare administration. If you are interested in the environment and want to protect people from environmental threats (both indoors and outdoors), you might like environmental health.

    To learn more about public health, explore the “What is Public Health” and "This is Public Health" websites. Try taking on a role in the field of public health through one of these interactive game simulations: Epidemic! and Outbreak at WatersEdge

    Education and Prerequisites

    The University of Minnesota School of Public Health offers many different educational opportunities. Explore the different areas of study and degrees offered to help you decide which major/area is the best fit for you.

    Prerequisites can include both courses and experience. They will vary depending on the area of public health to which you are applying and the level of degree (MPH, MHA, MS, or PhD) or graduate certificate program. Prerequisites differ by program, so look at the “Admissions” tab in the blue box for each area to view the prerequisite information you seek.

    The range of experience required for public health varies from program to program. When exploring the prerequisites, it is important to pay close attention to the type of experience identified.

    Prepare to Apply

    Look here for detailed information on the application process to the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

    U of M Program

    Public Health

  • Veterinary Medicine

    The Profession

    What they do: Veterinarians attend to the health of pets, livestock, zoo, sporting, and laboratory animals. Additional opportunities include careers in research, education, industry and government. Veterinarians may also be employed in public health positions.

    Where they work: Most graduates enter private veterinary practice at the conclusion of their program. Other opportunities include careers in research, education, industry and government. Veterinarians are also employed in lab animal medicine, zoo and wildlife medicine and in public health and regulatory medicine.

    Is This Profession a Fit for You?

    Students who wish to become veterinarians must demonstrate eagerness to work with animals as well as an ability to communicate with people. Students should like mental challenges and work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions.

    Education and Prerequisites

    The Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (D.V.M.) is a four-year professional program preceded by three to four years of pre-professional study. Find out more about the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine program by exploring links on the prospective students' page.

    To gain expereince in advance, students should try to find experiences with veterinarians or scientists in clinics, agribusiness, research or some other area of health science or with animals on a farm, ranch, stable or animal shelter.

    Prepare to Apply
    To apply to the program, students must complete the application requirements and forms. Complete details and information can be found on the College of Veterinary Medicine’s application procedures page. Full details and information can be found at the prospective students page.

    U of M Program

    College of Veterinary Medicine

Other University of Minnesota Health-Related Programs

Additional health professional and health-related programs are also housed within the University of Minnesota. Explore these links below:

  • Applied Plant Science

    The Profession

    Advances in our knowledge of plants and human health have led to increased interest in identifying and understanding plant compounds that affect health. One of the many areas plant scientists can specialize in is focused on improving the healthful benefits of the plant products we eat or use everyday. Plant scientists use analytical techniques to investigate the composition of plant products and test their safety. They use molecular techniques as well as breeding methods to identify and manipulate genetic components related to desirable plant traits. Plant scientists work to develop production practices that directly affect human health by providing high quality, nutritious food or that indirectly enhance health by ensuring a safe environment. Questions related to plants and human-health are addressed by plant scientists working with industries, universities and government agencies.


    Students who wish to be plant scientists should be interested in learning how plants are manipulated and grown to produce useful and healthy products. They should be inquisitive and enjoy problem-solving.  Organizational skills are very important.  Plant scientists who conduct research need skills in data management and statistical analysis.  

    Exploring Options

    There is a need to understand how to produce and process plant compounds for use in foods, medicines, cosmetics, and animal-feeds. Plant scientists equipped with technical skills and research experience can play an important role in these areas. Alarming trends in human health, such as obesity and heart disease, are related to consumption of highly processed plant materials.  Plant scientists are needed to work with health professionals and food processors to identify and develop alternative, healthy food choices. Guarding our food supply against the threat of bioterrorism will require plant scientists who can work with food scientists and regulatory agencies to ensure that foods are safe.

    Learn More

    The Applied Plant Science major is an interdisciplinary program offered through the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics in the College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences/Natural Resources. Located on the beautiful St. Paul campus, we offer a small-college environment within a Big Ten university. Hallmarks of the Applied Plant Science major include a flexible curriculum that easily allows students to minor or double major, small class sizes, one-on-one interactions with faculty, and many opportunities for hands-on experiences (internships, research projects, study abroad). For more information, please visit our website.

    U of M Program

    Applied Plant Science

  • Biomedical Engineering

    The Profession

    Biomedical Engineers focus on applying engineering knowledge and techniques to solve biological and medical problems. They do this by designing and building new devices, instruments and techniques to treat people suffering from injuries or diseases. They have created such devices as pacemakers, artificial skin, artificial organs, and automated insulin injectors. The also design and adapt computer software for medical uses such as laser systems for eye surgery and computer-based systems for diagnosing diseases. They often work in a lab setting. Biomedical engineers provide a vital link between advancing technology and health care treatment. They often work with a multidisciplinary team of surgeons, nurses, occupational therapists and medical specialists where they may be involved in clinical trials or demonstrating medical devices and equipment.


    Students who wish to become biomedical engineers must have strong quantitative abilities and a desire to master two different areas: engineering and biology. Students should have a diverse background in biology, chemistry, math and physics. They should be analytical thinkers and have good problem solving skills. Often working in a collaborative environment, communication skills are important. Biomedical engineers must commit to lifelong learning since the field is rapidly evolving.

    Several career paths are available to biomedical engineers. Those interested in work in industry will often pursue a Master's degree in addition to a B. S. in biomedical engineering or related engineering discipline, such as chemical or electrical engineering. Students interested in advanced research in industry or academic settings will pursue a doctorate degree. Students interested in clinical applications and treating patients may pursue combined degrees, such as the M.D./Ph.D.

    Exploring Options

    Biomedical engineering is presently one of the most rapidly expanding engineering specialties. Common employment options include work for medical device companies or for research laboratories. Specialties in the area include biomaterials, medical imaging, bioinstrumentation, biomechanics, clinical engineering, cellular, tissue and genetic engineering etc. Due to the increasing aging population, there is a growing demand for biomedical engineers to develop new devices and software to meet their health care needs.

    What The University Offers

    The University of Minnesota offers both an undergraduate and graduate program in biomedical engineering, based out of the College of Science and Engineering.

    U of M Program

    Biomedical Engineering

  • Echocardiography

    U of M Program (Rochester)


  • Food Science

    The Profession

    Food scientists design and create healthy and appealing foods. Food scientist work behind the scenes to ensure the food products we buy are safe and of high quality. Others work in research and development of foods to limit food-related problems such as salmonella or shelf life of food.


    Students who wish to be food scientist should be interested in learning how food is processed before it reaches the table. Have strong math, science and research interests. Students have to be very detail oriented and like to work in labs or test kitchens.

    Exploring Options

    New health risk such as bioterriorism opens a new avenue for food scientist. There is a need for increased research and new regulations on food safety precautions. Food scientist can work in a variety of jobs including product development, quality control, research, and nutrition educator.

    U of M Program

    Food Science and Nutrition

  • Health Communication

    The Profession

    Health communicators plan and execute communication campaigns that aim to increase awareness and understanding of healthcare issues, such as disease prevention or health policy; promote public health and improve quality of life; develop messages for health promotion and advocacy, carry out communication research and evaluate the effectiveness of message strategies; and tailor health messaging for target audiences and draw on fields such as public health, marketing and social and behavioral sciences to develop messaging strategies.

    Self Assessment

    Students should have an interest in strategic communication and public health and well-being. The BA/MA in Health Communication program is designed around a curriculum of academic and professional skills courses from strategic communication, public health and other relevant disciplines. Core courses will connect mass communication messaging to the field of public health, and will introduce students to factors influencing health-related behavior. In addition, students will choose electives that will further their understanding of public health and the social and behavioral sciences, as they relate to strategic health messaging. The practicum and capstone courses will allow students to apply their knowledge to real-world contexts. Students must be declared in the Journalism major–Strategic Communication track to apply to the MA program.

    Exploring Options

    In the Twin Cities, healthcare employment is estimated to represent 11 percent of total employment with a growing demand for communications expertise. Graduates of this program will have a combination of specific message strategy and content development knowledge paired with knowledge of the healthcare field. Career options include: Director of Health Communication, Patient Services Specialist, Health Account Executive, Director of Public Relations, Advocacy Director, Health Marketing Consultant and Hospital Communication Specialist.

    U of M program: BA/MA in Health Communication in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication

  • Nutrition

    The Profession

    Nutrition professionals provide knowledge on nutrients and the foods from which they are derived, to aid in the maintenance and prevention of disease. Registered Dietitians have the responsibility of assessing a person's nutritional status, recommending appropriate therapeutic diet, and evaluating respond to the diet.


    Students who wish to be Registered Dietitians should enjoy working with food and with people, such as helping clients plan meals for their nutritional needs. Students should be interested in the role of nutrition in health and wellness, weight loss, disease prevention or the food service industry. Nutrition is a science that requires knowledge in chemistry, physiology, biology, mathematics and physics.

    Exploring Options

    Registered Dietitians work in a variety of health care settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, long term care facilities, business and industry, and federal and government agencies. A nutrition background can also prepare you for graduate school, medical or dental school, and other professional schools. Click here for salary information.

    U of M Programs


    Nutritional Science

  • Radiography

    U of M Program (Rochester)


  • Respiratory Care

    U of M Program (Rochester)

    Respiratory Care

  • Scientific and Technical Communication

    The Profession

    Scientific and technical communicators work with physicians, engineers, scientists, researchers, and other experts to gather information about a product or service. Then, they transform complex information into language that audiences can understand and use in brochures, web sites, online documentation, multimedia, or videos.

    More Than Just Writing

    Scientific and technical communicators do far more than write. In fact, some spend more than half their time gathering information, and for this reason, they must possess excellent interpersonal skills.  This is a major that is interdisciplinary and can take you down a variety of career paths. Possible job titles might be Training Specialist, Medical Writer, Medical Editor, Documentation Specialist, Communication Consultant, Marketing Writer, Website Designer, or Publications Specialist to name but a few.

    U of M Program

    Scientific and Technical Communication (undergraduate program)

    Scientific and Technical Communication (graduate program)

  • Sonography

    U of M Program (Rochester)


  • Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences

    The Profession

    Speech pathologists and audiologists help clients identify what problems exist and how best to help them hear better and speak more clearly. Clients may have problems due to strokes, developmental delay, syndromes, physical impairments, etc. The audiologist can diagnose hearing problems by using a series of hearing tests and determine if their client would benefit from a hearing aid or other assistive listening device. The speech pathologist can complete evaluations and treatment for a wide variety of disorders of speech and language, including things like stuttering, lisping, and voice problems. They may also determine the factors contributing to the problem and suggest treatment options. They can work in a wide range of settings including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, geriatric facilities, etc.


    Students interested in speech pathology and audiology should be good communicators and problem solvers. They should have the desire to help others and be able to communicate well with the client as well as family members. A background or interest in science, psychology, art, music, education, linguistics and languages is helpful. They should have patience for working with patients as progress in treatment can vary across individuals. Students will need to have a Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology or Audiology and pass a licensing exam in order to practice in the state of Minnesota.

    Exploring Options

    There are many options for people with a bachelor's degree in Speech and Hearing Science. There are opportunities in social service careers such as case management, careers in business focusing on communication skills, hearing aid sales, as well as graduate research and educational opportunities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that employment outlook for this profession is expected to increase faster than average.

    U of M Program

    Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences

Additional Health Career Fields

In addition to the training programs offered at the Academic Health Center and the University of Minnesota that are described on our web site, there are several other options for health careers.

While only a handful of other health occupations are highlighted here, a number of resources exist to help you find more information on your intended career path. Check out the resources below:

Health related programs are listed on the "Careers: Health Science" page.

Explore Health Careers
An extensive list of different health careers, including both traditional and non-traditional career paths.

  • Chiropractic

    According to the U.S. Department of Labor:

    "Chiropractors, also known as doctors of chiropractic or chiropractic physicians, diagnose and treat patients whose health problems are associated with the body's muscular, nervous, and skeletal systems, especially the spine. Chiropractors believe interference with these systems impairs normal functions and lowers resistance to disease. They also hold that spinal or vertebral dysfunction alters many important body functions by affecting the nervous system, and that skeletal imbalance through joint or articular dysfunction, especially in the spine, can cause pain."


    MN Board of Chiropractic Examiners

    American Chiropractic Association

    Discover Chiropractic

    Full List of North American Chiropractic Colleges

  • Forensics

    The Profession
    Individuals interested in this field may work as forensic science technicians, medical examiners, laboratory scientists, criminologists, forensic pathologists (MD), forensic nurses and forensic dentists, just to name a few possible career paths. Some roles in forensics may require a certain kind of education, such as nursing, medicine, or dentistry.

    People in the profession may interpret lab findings to identify physical evidence, reconstruct crime scenes, prepare reports, testify as expert witnesses in trials, and analyze fluids.


    Students interested in a career in forensics should have good problem-solving skills as well as knowledge of math, chemistry, biology, and public safety. Students should have investigative interests. Common majors include biology, chemistry, psychology, criminology, medical technology and computer science.

    Exploring Options
    There are many specialty areas in forensics including ballistics, DNA analysis, toxicology, arson, fingerprinting, criminal profiling etc.

    Major employers include federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.



    American Academy of Forensic Sciences

    American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors

    National Center for Forensic Science

  • Optometry

    According to the U.S. Department of Labor:

    Optometrists examine people's eyes to diagnose vision problems and eye diseases. They use instruments and observation to examine eye health and to test patients' visual acuity, depth and color perception, and ability to focus and coordinate the eyes. Optometrists analyze test results and develop a treatment plan. Optometrists prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses, and provide vision therapy and low vision rehabilitation.They administer drugs to patients to aid in the diagnosis of eye vision problems and prescribe drugs to treat some eye diseases.

    Optometrists often provide preoperative and postoperative care to cataract, laser vision correction, and other eye surgery patients. They also diagnose conditions due to systemic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and refer patients to other health practitioners as needed. Licensed optometrists must earn a Doctor of Optometry degree from an accredited optometry school and pass a written and a clinical State board examination.



    Association of School and Colleges of Optometry

    American Academy of Optometry

    Optometry Admission Test (OAT)

  • Osteopathic Medicine

    Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is incorporated in the training and practice of osteopathic physicians. With OMT, osteopathic physicians use their hands to diagnose injury and illness and to encourage your body's natural tendency toward good health. Osteopathic medicine provides all of the benefits of modern medicine including prescription drugs, surgery, and the use of technology to diagnose disease and evaluate injury. It also offers the added benefit of hands-on diagnosis and treatment through a system of therapy known as osteopathic manipulative medicine.

    Source: Rural Health School Program


    American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine

    AACOM (for Applicants)

    American Osteopathic Association

  • Physician Assistant

    Physician assistants (PAs) provide healthcare services under the supervision of physicians. PAs are formally trained to provide diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive healthcare services, as delegated by a physician. Working as members of the healthcare team, they take medical histories, examine and treat patients, order and interpret laboratory tests and x-rays, make diagnoses, and prescribe medications. They also treat minor injuries by suturing, splinting, and casting. PAs record progress notes, instruct and counsel patients, and order or carry out therapy. In 47 States and the District of Columbia, physician assistants may prescribe medications. PAs also may have managerial duties. Some order medical and laboratory supplies and equipment and may supervise technicians and assistants.

    Source: U.S. Department of Labor



    American Academy of Physician Assistants

    MN Board of Medical Practice

  • Podiatry

    Podiatrists treat corns, calluses, ingrown toenails, bunions, heel spurs, and arch problems; ankle and foot injuries, deformities and infections; and foot complaints associated with diseases such as diabetes. To treat these problems, podiatrists prescribe drugs, order physical therapy, set fractures, and perform surgery. They also fit corrective inserts called orthotics, design plaster casts and strappings to correct deformities, and design custom-made shoes. Podiatrists may use a force plate to help design the orthotics. Patients walk across a plate connected to a computer that "reads" the patients' feet, picking up pressure points and weight distribution. From the computer readout, podiatrists order the correct design or recommend treatment.          

    Source: U.S. Department of Labor



    Minnesota License Board for Podiatry

    American Podiatric Medical Association

    American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine

  • Radiation Therapy

    Radiation therapy is one of the methods that healthcare professionals use to combat cancer.

    Mayo School of Health Sciences
    Radiation Therapy Program
    Rochester, MN

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  • Last modified on July 17, 2012