If you’ve been thinking about starting a new career, one of the questions you’ve no doubt wondered about is how long it takes to get started. It’s no secret that certain careers require a lot more education and experience than others, but you may be surprised to learn that particular jobs in the medical field don’t take nearly as long to master as you might think.

For example, did you know that you could become a Registered Nurse in as little as four years?

To learn more about Registered Nurses, nurse practitioners and other jobs in the medical field, keep reading.

There Is More to the Medical Field Than Just Doctors

When you tell some people that you are thinking about entering the medical field, they may immediately think that you want to become a doctor.

While that is certainly an enriching and challenging career choice, it’s not the only one that exists within the realm of medicine. As a matter of fact, there are actually almost three times as many nurses in the US than there are doctors.

A few other jobs you can find in the medical field are:

  • Nurse practitioner
  • Pharmacist
  • Physician’s assistant
  • Registered Nurse (RN)
  • Nurse anaesthetist

Continue reading to learn a bit more about these jobs and how long it takes before you can start practicing in the field.

How Long Does it Take to Become a RN?

A Registered Nurse, or RN, is a nurse who has successfully completed a nursing program and has been certified to practice in his or her area. RNs can be found in a variety of settings, from doctors’ offices to hospitals, and their list of responsibilities can seem never-ending.

Some of the things they do on a daily basis include:

  • Administering medications
  • Filling out paperwork
  • Performing physicals
  • Assisting doctors and other professionals
  • Preparing exams rooms
  • Setting appointments
  • Following up with patients

While it can take many years of study and real-world experience to become a doctor or surgeon, it can take as little as four years to become an RN. To become one, you must earn a bachelors degree from a university that offers a nursing program.

From there, you can immediately try to find a job in the medical field or you can pursue higher education to seek a more complex job, such as that of a nurse practitioner.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Nurse Practitioner?

Nurse practitioners are similar to Registered Nurses (RNs), with the distinction that they have received advanced training and they are capable of treating certain conditions without the need of a doctor’s supervision.

What does a nurse practitioner do?

Nurse practitioners can perform many of the same duties as a doctor, including conducting exams, diagnosing illnesses and prescribing medication. Unlike doctors, nurse practitioners focus more on preventing illness rather than diagnosing it. They do this by educating their patients and working with them to avoid illnesses and certain medical conditions.

If you don’t already have a college education, it typically takes five to seven years to become a nurse practitioner. If you’ve already got a bachelor’s degree, there are programs that can fast-track you towards certification to become a nurse practitioner.

As many nursing students also work full time while studying, it can sometimes take a little longer to fulfill the requirements of becoming a nurse practitioner.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Pharmacist?

A pharmacist is in charge of dispensing medicine. They don’t actually prescribe medicine (you have to go to a doctor for that), but they do have to know a lot about the drugs that they are storing and handing out to ensure the safety of themselves, their associates and their patients.

Though the job of a pharmacist may seem pretty straight forward, there is actually quite a bit of responsibility riding on their shoulders. In most cases, they must know just as much about the medicine that they are dispensing as the doctors who are prescribing them.

If a patient has concerns about drug interactions or possible side effects, a pharmacist must have the knowledge to assist them.

As such, pharmacists require several years of education to prepare themselves for the tasks ahead of them. If you enroll in a fast-track program, you can become a pharmacist in about six years. If you take the traditional course of study, it can take up 13 years for you to complete the requirements.

There are a variety of rewarding careers in the medical field. If you don’t think you’re cut out to be a doctor, consider some of the other interesting and challenging careers in this line of work, including Registered Nurses, nurse practitioners and pharmacists.

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