Jonathan Golding, Ph.D. and Anne Lippert, PhD

Careers in Psych

Medical Careers with a Bachelor's in Psychology

Think medical careers are out of reach with a BA in psychology? Think again!

Posted Nov 04, 2015

Source: jarmoluk/Pixabay

The idea that the mind-body relationship is important in the treatment and prevention of disease has only recently gained traction in western medicine. For a time, the only conceptual model of disease in western medicine viewed illness as due singularly to biological factors. When research revealed that in the past few decades the United States has seen little increase in life expectancy1 but large increases in health care costs2, it became clear that the really hard health issues were not being answered under this model. As a result, the medical community has started to consider the importance of psychological and social factors in disease, which has created a demand for psychological expertise in a wide array of medical issues.  This means that individuals with a psychology degree face unprecedented career opportunities in health care. This week’s post is dedicated to exploring some of these career opportunities for those with a bachelor’s degree.

            If you have an interest in patient care and a bachelor’s in psychology, there are many career options available. For instance, you could become a mental health technician and help doctors, nurses, and psychologists in treating patients with mental/behavioral problems (e.g., substance abuse). You may also consider being a psychiatric technician and work with special needs populations, including the elderly and those with mental or emotional illnesses or developmental disabilities. Another option is to become a recreational therapist and use a variety of methods (arts and crafts, drama, music, dance, sports, games, and community reintegration field trips) to help maintain or improve a patient’s physical, social, and emotional well-being.


T.K./Wikimedia Commons
Source: T.K./Wikimedia Commons

  If you are more inclined toward the research aspect of medicine, you may consider government jobs with your degree in psychology. There are many opportunities in the government to study medical related topics, for example with the Environmental Protection AgencyCenters for Disease Control, the National Institute of Health, and many others listed here.  Another option is to become a medical laboratory technician for a university or hospital, helping with research on a medical related topic.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics3, employment of medical laboratory technicians is projected to grow 22 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. It is thought that the increase in the aging population will lead to a greater need to diagnose and research medical conditions (e.g., cancer, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease) in the laboratory.

            We hope you found our post useful, but remember, these are only a select handful of the careers available to you at the bachelor’s level. If you would like to suggest other options for psychology majors in terms of pursuing a career in health care or medicine, please comment below. We would love to hear from you!  If you feel short changed because we did not discuss medical related careers for those of you who decide to pursue (or have already pursued) a professional or graduate degree, don’t despair- next week’s post is dedicated to just that topic! Until next week, happy career hunting!

Please note that the comments of Dr. Golding and the others who post on this blog express their own opinion and not that of the University of Kentucky.

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