As with most fields, health care has its hidden and overlooked gems of opportunity. Your choices aren’t simply doctor or nurse: There are plenty of less-common careers in the industry that allow you to help patients in a variety of ways. Here are three paths you may not have considered:

 

Physical therapists

Physical therapists spend extensive time working with patients, creating a bond with them and designing programs and rehabilitation exercises. Many of these patients are athletes. “We see athletes enter with concussions, unknown pain or decreases in production or post-op status,” says Chris Keating of Strive Physical Therapy. They create personalized recovery plans, similar to the way a teacher formats a curriculum. “The programs we design will progress enhancing a patient’s strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, endurance and overall performance,” says Keating.

 

Holistic health care

One largely expanding field is that of holistic healing. CAM — an acronym for Complementary and Alternative Medicine — involves sophisticated practices that include acupuncture and acupressure along with massage therapy. More schools are offering courses in this study, and more Americans are seeking medical attention in alternative forms: A National Health Interview Survey found that 38 percent of adults questioned use a form of alternative or holistic medicine.

 

Occupational therapists

Occupational therapists assist the elderly and those who have suffered an illness or injury in relearning everyday skills. It’s a flexible job that offers a variety of positions within the system. “Occupational therapy allows for many jobs in the same career,” explains occupational therapist Jeremy R. Furniss, VP of Operations at Ergo Solutions. “Because we work in so many environments, you can easily switch to avoid burnout. You find OTs in medical care and hospitals, work sites such as factories or offices, schools and just about anywhere else these days.”