What Does a Health Care Professional Do?

Dan Cavallari

The job responsibilities of a health care professional can vary significantly according to what type of professional he or she is. This term generally refers to anyone who works in the health industry to provide services to patients in a variety of settings. A health care professional may be a doctor, a nurse, a community health worker, or another type of practitioner. These professionals must be trained to be qualified to provide healthcare, which means a college education or certificate program must be completed before that person can work in the field.

Doctors are health care professionals.
Doctors are health care professionals.

When one thinks of a health care professional, a doctor usually comes to mind. Many types of doctors exist: surgeons, general physicians, specialists such as gastroenterologists or cardiologists, and interns. Of all the health care professional positions, doctors often have to go through the most schooling and on the job training. Medical schools allow students to focus on a particular area of medicine, but they also offer training that allows a doctor to become a general practitioner. Coursework such as anatomy, physiology, biology, pathology, and many more are covered during one's education at a medical school. The doctor's education continues once he or she begins working in a medical setting such as a hospital; he or she is likely to be an intern under the guidance of more experienced doctors for an extended period of time.

Doctors and nurses can serve in highly specialized areas of healthcare.
Doctors and nurses can serve in highly specialized areas of healthcare.

Other health care professional jobs are less in-depth but equally important. Nurses, for example, often staff hospitals and doctor's offices, and while they are not qualified to perform many of the functions a doctor will perform, nurses can perform some medical procedures. They will directly tend to patients as well, which can be a difficult job in itself. Orderlies and interns can also help nurses run wings of a hospital or doctor's offices, though these people are usually not qualified to perform any medical procedures.

Nutritionists, physical therapists, and mental health professionals also fall under the very broad category of health care professional. Physical therapists specialize in the human body and movement; people who are injured or who undergo surgery will often visit a physical therapist to undergo rehabilitation. Nutritionists focus on healthy diets and other practices necessary to maintain the human body; they will often work with overweight patients, athletes, and anyone else who wants to improve overall health. Mental health professionals can focus on a variety of topics; therapists can work with patients to work through difficult mental health issues, while other professionals may diagnose illnesses and prescribe treatment for those illnesses.

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