Building your alternative career in healthcare

There are way more health occupations than you ever realized

You do not need to be a doctor or nurse to have a fulfilling career in the health industry.

Healthcare is an attractive sector for many people, as it is perceived to offer job security and a high salary. It is also the obvious choice for anyone who loves science and helping people.

The most highly visible professions within this sector are definitely physicians and nurses. As a result, plenty of students dream of careers in these fields. Unfortunately, these programs have become prohibitively difficult to enter as more and more students apply.

Nursing is already a competitive program in Manitoba and with Red River College axing 75 seats in its nursing school, students will be competing for fewer seats. Since grade point average (GPA) is the criteria for admittance, the minimum grade for entrance into Red River’s program is likely to increase.

Fortunately, these two occupations represent only a fraction of the career possibilities within healthcare. Canada’s National Occupational Classification lists 36 broad occupational unit groups within health.

This list is extensive, but not exhaustive. Occupations outside of direct service healthcare, such as epidemiology, health policy analysis or hospital social work are in other sections of this database. In reality, the list is even longer.

Do not limit yourself to two options. If you want to work in the health sector, research the diversity of training available to you.

Let’s explore some health occupations you could consider beyond medicine and registered nursing.



Dietitians are experts in healthy eating who create nutritional plans in line with their clients’ health goals, allergies or medical conditions.

They work in many settings including private practice, health care facilities, government and the food industry. If you love biology, chemistry and food, this could be an exciting job for you.


Occupational Therapist (OT)

This is the coolest job you have probably never heard of.

OTs support individuals in adapting their environments so they can continue to live their lives fully even if they have experienced a limitation to their functioning caused by physical disability, illness or a psychological concern.

Their work is varied, occurring in a multitude of settings with a diverse group of clients, making it difficult to explain.

As an example, an OT might support a client who has lost mobility in one arm in finding creative ways to cook, drive their car, dress or do their job.  They might also work in a psychiatric facility, supporting an individual with an eating disorder in engaging in social activities or grocery shopping.


Athletic Therapist (AT)

Though often confused with its more physical cousin, athletic therapy is a unique profession with distinct expertise and training.

ATs treat musculoskeletal injuries using taping, exercise and massage in a clinical setting or right on a sports field. This is a great profession for individuals who are interested in working in a hands-on healthcare job and who are fascinated by the human body.


Licenced Practical Nurse (LPN)

LPNs care for patients by monitoring therapies, administering medications and taking vitals.

They also teach patients and their families about health.

LPNs complete a two-year college program. Unlike the GPA competitions for entry into most bachelor of nursing programs, applicants to LPN programs, like the one at Assiniboine Community College, are admitted based on a lottery system.

This might be the perfect second chance for students struggling to be admitted to GPA-based programs.

If you decide you would like to further your education, you can eventually seek out an LPN to bachelor of nursing bridging program to become a registered nurse.


Physician Assistant (PA)

PAs provide healthcare services such as making diagnoses and planning health interventions under the supervision of a physician.

With a master of physician assistant studies, you can provide up to 75 per cent of primary care interventions without physician referral, including prescribing some medications.


Find more health jobs

Dig a little deeper and do your research: from the National Occupational Classification’s online job descriptions to healthcare job boards, you can find a plethora of opportunities in healthcare if you just seek them out.

For example, if you check out the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s job board, you will find over 400 posted positions covering all kinds of jobs, including social workers, audiologists, radiology technologists and more.

Healthcare is a diverse sector composed of workers with all kinds of specializations. Take a closer look and you might find something special.