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Health Sciences Career Pathways

The Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences major at Drake prepares students for successful careers in a variety of pathways within health care.  Whether you are interested in pursuing a career in health care practice, management or research, this degree program is designed with your future success in mind.  There are hundreds of career pathways within health care for students to choose from.  We have provided explanations for the pathways we see our graduates pursue most often. is a great resource for students who are looking for some guidance as they explore the different career pathways in health care.  This website lists hundred of health care careers and includes information about job outlook, work environment, estimated salary, education, licensing, and much more!

Allied Health Professions

Hundreds of professionals work within the health care industry in allied health care careers.  These professionals deliver services involving the identification, evaluation and prevention of of diseases and disorders, dietary and nutrition services, rehabilitation, and health systems management.  Allied health professions represent approximately 60% of all health care providers in the U.S.  Many professions fall under the wide umbrella of allied health care including, but not limited to, audiology, dental hygienist, emergency medical technicians, health administration, information management, physical therapy, radiology, and speech pathology. 

Athletic Training

Athletic trainers are highly qualified, multi-skilled healthcare professionals specifically trained in the prevention, examination, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of medical conditions and emergent, acute, and chronic injuries. Athletic trainers render service or treatment and reduce risk in a variety of settings. 

Athletic training is recognized by the American Medical AssociationHealth Resources Services Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services as an allied health care profession. 

Where do athletic trainers work?

  • Educational institutions (elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, colleges/universities)
  • Professional and amateur sports organizations
  • Hospitals and clinics
  • Corporate workplaces
  • Armed forces
  • Police and fire departments
  • Performing arts


Chiropractic Medicine

Chiropractic medicine focuses on patients' health in relationship to the body's main structures: the skeleton, the muscles and the nerves.  These professionals believe your health can be improved and preserved by making adjustments to these structures.  This field has become a well-recognized and highly respected profession within health care.  Because of the holistic approach to care, many patients seek chiropractic services as an alternative to a primary care physician because they prefer treatments that do not rely on medicine or surgery.


The field of dentistry includes a variety of careers in addition to being a dentist.  These careers are highly sophisticated and provide a wide range of oral health care.  They are instrumental in the early detection of oral diseases and disorders that manifest in the mouth.  They can also serve as first responders in the event of a large-scale health emergency.  Careers within dentistry include, but are not limited to, dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, dental laboratory technicians and allied dental educator. 

Health Care Administration

Although we do not typically think of health care as a "business" in the same way we think of other services we use, many of the same business principles apply to health care organizations.  Like a good business, health care organizations need good management to keep things running smoothly.  Health care administrators are professionals who plan, direct, coordinate and supervise the delivery of health care.  Health care management is one of the fastest growing fields within the health care industry and is expected to continue to expand and diversify. 


Medical infomatics involves understanding, promoting the effective organization, analysis, management and use of information in health care.  People who work in medical informatics must be knowledgeable about both information science and health care in order to understand how data and information affect health care organizations.  They understand how to acquire, store, protect, retrieve and use a wide range of information about health and medicine. 

Medicine (M.D. and D.O.)

Doctors diagnose illness and injury, prescribe and administer treatment, and advise patients about disease prevention and management.  Most people think of doctors in the allopathic medicine (M.D) pathway.  However, students can also choose to pursue Osteopathic medicine (D.O.).  Osteopathic doctors are licensed to do everything an allopathic doctor can do, including diagnosing, treating, prescribing medications and performing surgery.  In addition to these skills, osteopathic doctors have a strongly holistic approach to their practice and use "manipulative" medicine, which is a distinct system of hands-on diagnosis and treatment that focuses on the musculoskelatal system. 

Mental Health

Mental health is a broad field with a wide range of career choices.  Health professionals in mental health-related careers help individuals of all ages deal with a variety of life stresses and problems, including addiction, substance abuse, problems with self-esteem, aging-related mental health issues, family, parenting or marital problems, grief, anger or depression, and other emotional or behavioral issues.  Some mental health professionals hold advanced degrees and specialize in brain function and human behavior.  They are able to help patients with clinically diagnosed mental illnesses and may use a variety of strategies for treatment including, but not limited to, medical, psycho-therapeutic, or psycho-social therapies. 


The field of nursing is very diverse and requires a wide range of skills and knowledge.  Nurses promote health, prevent disease and help patients cope with illness.  They have a unique scope of practice in that they can practice independently, although most collaborte with all members of the health care team.  Nurses are hands-on health care professionals who provide focused and highly personalized care.  Career opportunities in this field range from entry-level to doctoral-level. 


Scientific research shows that changes in diet can have a signigicant impact on our health.  Sometimes what we eat can be the difference between causing and preventing or controling many health problems including, but not limited to, obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.  Dietetics is a health field that focuses on the interaction between nutrition and heath.  Dietitians design "nutrition therapies" that help the body use the natural nutrients and properties in food to protect against disease and promote health. 


Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists focus on increasing independence, participation and engagement in daily living activities for individuals, groups and populations.  They enable individuals of all ages to live their lives to the fullest by promoting health and well-being.  Occupational therapists help people develop, recover, adapt, enhance, learn and improve the skills needed for accomplishing their goals and dreams.  Employment for occupational therapists is projected to grow almost 30% through the end of 2022, faster than the average for most professions.  Occupational therapy will continue to be an important part of treatment for people with various illnesses and disabilities. 


The field of optometry involves everything having to do with eyes and vision, including examination, diagnosis, and treatment of eyes, facial structures, and vision.  Although optometry includes a variety of professions, the most well-known is the optometrist, who is the primary physician for eye and vision care.  Opthamlmologists are professionals that can also perform eye surgery in addition to diagnosing and treating eye conditions.  Opticians fit patients for eyeglasses and contact lenses. 


As "medication experts," pharmacists play a vital role in improving patient care through the treatment and information they provide.  The goal of pharmacy care is to maximize positive health care outcomes and improve a patient's quality of life with minimum risk.  Much of what the general public knows about pharmacists includes dispensing medications in community settings.  However, with dispensing becoming more automated, pharmacists are able to work more directly to counsel patients on their treatments and advise other health care practitioners on the selection, dosages, interactions and side effects of prescribed medications.  There are a wide variety of career opportunities within community, clinical, regulatory, institutional, and many other areas of pharmacy. 

Physical Therapy

Physical therapists provide services that help restore function, improve mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities in patients with injuries or disease.  These professionals work closely with patients of all ages, using a variety of different methods to help them recover from and manage a wide variety of physical challenges. 

Physician Assistant

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, physician assistant is one of the fastest growing careers in health care, with a projected growth rate of 37% by the end of 2026.  Physician assistants are licensed health care providers that can do many of the same functions as a doctor including diagnosing and treating illness and disease, prescribing medication, performing physical exams, and advising patients of preventative medicine.  In primary care settings, physician assistants treat patients with a significant amount of automony and can make clinical decisions under a written agreement with a licensed physician.  Physician assistants work in a variety of settings and specialties. 


Doctors who specialize in the study of human movement and the medical care of the foot and ankle are called podiatrists.  Our feet and legs are one of the most important parts of the human body, since they essentially hold up our entire body weight and make many essential movements possible.  Podiatrists diagnose, treat, and advise in the prevention of foot and ankle disorders, diseases, and injuries.  Many times podiatrists are able to detect serious health problems that might otherwise go unnoticed because many diseases manifest first through symptoms in the lower body.

Public Health

Public health is the science and art of creating health communities through education, research and promotion of health lifestyles.  Public health professionals focus on health promotion and disease/illness/injury prevention in the U.S. and abroad.  In contrast to other health professionals, who primarily focus on diagnosing and treating individuals, public health professionals have a more "big picture" perspective as they analyze and develop programs that protect the health of comunities in a variety of areas.  Public health professionals play a key role in emergency preparedness and response. 

Speech, Language and Hearing

Careers in communication science and disorders are extremely rewarding and the need for professionals is expected to grow over the next ten years.  Career pathways in speech, language and hearing professions include, but are not limited to, audiologist, speech-language pathologist, speech, language and hearing scientist, and many others. 

Sports Medicine

The broad field of sports medicine focuses on helping people improve their athletic performance, recover from injury and prevent future injuries.  Patients are not always just professional athletes.  Professionals in the field of sports medicine treat patients who participte in athletic activity in school, just for fun, or who want to get better results from their program.  They also treat patients who have suffered injuries and want to regain full function, or have a disability and want to increase their mobility and capabilities. 



In addition to these resources, visit the Professional & Career Development Services web site.

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