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Health Care Providers


Medicine is the science of healing. Practitioners diagnose, treat, and work to prevent diseases of all types in people. Early medicine began with prehistoric people who believed that supernatural powers caused diseases. These early people used techniques such as drilling holes in a patient's head to release the evil spirits. The first doctors, known as medicine men, turned to herbal concoctions, ritual dances, and incantations to heal their patients. Ancient Egyptians introduced the idea of specialization within the field of medicine and developed systematic methods for treating illnesses. Hippocrates, a Greek physician, was first to determine that natural forces cause diseases. He introduced a method of conduct and ethics for the practice of medicine. Today, physicians still recite the Hippocratic Oath upon graduating from medical school.

From early medical practices, health care has evolved and continues to develop rapidly with the discoveries of new drugs, treatments, and cures. Modern technologies, such as computers and virtual reality, are used by the medical community to perform tests, compile data, diagnose illnesses, and train professionals. Many surgeries are no longer performed with a scalpel, but with lasers. Disease, illness, and injury are now being treated and cured so successfully that the general population is living much longer and the number of elderly is increasing. The field of genetics is one area being researched by scientists with promising results.

The structure of the health care industry offers a wide variety of jobs to choose from and many different facilities in which to work, once the job is chosen. Health care providers are employed as physicians, nurses, nursing aides, technicians, technologists, therapists, and medical researchers, to name just a few. They are employed in settings that include private offices, hospitals, clinics, managed-care facilities, nursing homes, research facilities, and private homes.

Medical and health care has become one of the largest and most varied occupational areas in the United States. More than 18 million people were employed in some aspect of the U.S. health care system in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Employment in the health services industry is projected to increase by 14 percent through 2028, adding about 1.9 million new jobs, according to the Department of Labor. Employment opportunities are expected to be strong in the areas of gerontology, home health care, and nursing and residential care to meet the needs of America's aging population.

Equally strong employment opportunities will be available in nursing. As health care services expand, even more nurses will be needed. In May 2018, there were nearly 3.1 million registered nurses. Other health care professions with good employment opportunities are dental assistants and hygienists, cardiovascular technologists, emergency medical technicians, and respiratory therapists.

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