A physician may include a doctor of medicine (MD) or a doctor of osteopathic medicine
(DO) who is
dedicated to the study, diagnosis and treatment of disease or injury. Among the fields
available to physicians
are primary care and general practice or, with further training, medical specialization
in fields such
as internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry or surgery. Both the MD
and DO degrees
require at least four years of medical school, followed by a three-to-five-year residency.
The medical practice of dentistry deals directly with the conditions of the oral cavity
and how they affect
human health. A dentist may work within general practice or obtain further training
in dental specialties
such as endodontics (treatment of the roots of teeth), orthodontics (teeth straightening),
(treating areas surrounding the teeth, such as the gums) or pediatric dentistry. Becoming
requires four years of dental school working toward a doctor of dental surgery (DDS)
or doctor of dental
In a health care setting, nurses assist in the treatment and recovery of patients
and work closely with
physicians, patients and their families to help them manage injury and illness and
improve their overall
health. Some programs grant a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), and students who
already have a
bachelor’s degree can enroll in an accelerated 12-to-18-month program after graduation.
grant a master’s degree (MSN) that requires two years in addition to undergraduate
and may require a nursing license (RN) prior to enrollment.
The physical therapist helps maintain and restore function to the body and the musculoskeletal
Many physical therapists are involved in helping patients adjust their activity and
movement to prevent
injury, treating existing injuries, or rehabilitating patients back to their original
healthy state. The terminal
degree in physical therapy is the DPT, which requires 2 1/2 years in a PT program,
with possible additional
education for a specialization in orthopedics, pediatrics, or geriatric physical therapy.
In veterinary medicine the interest is in applying medical , diagnostic and surgical
principles to animals.
The doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) requires at least four years in a veterinary
medical program, and
involves learning specialized techniques and a diverse group of patients—from dogs
and cats to livestock,
exotic pets or wildlife. The veterinary fi eld can be highly competitive but rewarding,
and include specialized
techniques also used to study and enhance human health.
Under the supervision of a licensed physician, a physician assistant provides health
care services such as
physical exams, diagnosis, surgical care and testing. The PA requires three to four
years of education, but
unlike the physician the PA is not required to complete a residency. Physician assistants
are a valuable
part of the healthcare team, fi lling a vital role in areas under-served by physicians.
The doctor of chiropractic (DC) specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention
of disorders of the
musculoskeletal system, and requires approximately four years of chiropractic education.
may include manipulation of the spine, joints, and soft tissues, as well as patient
exercises. A doctor of
chiropractic places strong emphasis on wellness and enhancing the body’s natural ability
to heal itself.
In medicine, podiatry focuses on the disorders of the foot, ankle and lower leg, and
involves the study, diagnosis
and treatment of problems with the lower extremity. A podiatrist is required to undertake
year program toward the doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM). Many podiatrists work
in primary care,
and others may go on in specialties such as surgery, sports medicine or orthopedics.
The pharmacist connects health science and chemistry through pharmaceutical drugs
and other treatments,
and is an expert on the use of medications to enhance human health. Pharmacy requires
years of basic study for the PharmD, and students can go on into the familiar area
of dispensing medications,
or even nuclear pharmacy, to prepare radioactive materials for tests and treating
Optometrists emphasize vision care and the study of the eyes and related structures.
An optometrist may
work in conjunction with ophthalmologists (MDs with advanced training in eye problems)
(who design and fi t corrective lenses). In general, training in optometry requires
a four-year program
toward the doctor of optometry (OD).
ALLIED HEALTH PROFESSIONS
Nearly 60 percent of the health workforce works within the allied health professions.
The fi eld of allied
health requires two to three years of training to learn patient care through diagnosis,
and support. There are numerous disciplines within the allied health professions,
from fi rst responders
such as paramedics to technicians, occupational/speech therapy, nutrition, or healthcare
COMBINED ADVANCED DEGREES
For students with multiple interests there are many programs offering combined degrees
with a degree
in the health professions. Dual degrees may include a PhD. (for someone interested
in health research),
a JD (for the study of health care and the law) or MBA (for healthcare administration
While these programs require more time, they can be excellent options for students
with interests across
For the most up-to-date information and links to specific health professions schools,
visit the pre-health page at udallas.edu/prehealth.