Amy Gruen

Author: Amy Gruen

Career Spotlight: Podiatrist

Do you want to be one step ahead in the medical field, and be able to make puns about your work? Consider becoming a podiatrist! Jokes aside, foot health is vital to the health of the whole body, especially because some serious conditions first present through symptoms in the lower extremities. Podiatrists serve a valuable role in medicine by specializing in this important area of the body. Read on to explore the field of podiatry and how you can get there! 

What do podiatrists do? 

In the same way that dentists specialize in mouths, podiatrists specialize in feet. Specifically, a podiatrist’s work includes preventing, diagnosing, and treating foot-related issues. They work with both injuries and diseases, and may also specialize in a subset of these issues or in a type of treatment. A common treatment specialty is surgery. Additionally, since no part of the body functions in isolation, podiatrists frequently work with ankles and other nearby leg structures. 

What is their work environment like? 

Podiatrists can work in a diversity of settings. These include medical centers such as hospitals, trauma centers, private practices, group practices, and surgical centers. They also include interdisciplinary practice settings like professional sports teams, long-term care facilities, and the armed forces. Podiatrists may also perform academic, educational, and research work in universities and schools of podiatry. This variety allows for a lot of flexibility in work hours, patients, and medical conditions. 

Who do they work with? 

This flexibility in work environment goes hand in hand with a flexibility in both patients and coworkers. These factors depend largely on a podiatrist’s work setting. For example, a podiatrist working on a sports team may see athlete patients who have primarily injury and repetitive stress-related issues, and may work closely with physical therapists. A podiatrist working in a surgical center, however, may see a variety of clients with serious conditions, and may collaborate with other hospital staff. 

What is the job outlook for podiatry? 

The job outlook for doctors of podiatric medicine is excellent. Thea average salary is $190,675, and podiatrists typically work between 30 and 60 hours per week. 

How do I become a podiatrist? 

Podiatrists are doctors, and complete medical school programs tailored to the study of podiatry. These typically take place at accredited podiatric medical colleges. There are currently nine accredited colleges of podiatric medicine in the United States, as well as over 200 podiatry programs at hospitals and other organizations. Browse a list of programs here. Programs take around four years to complete. The first two years include coursework and laboratory experience, and the last two years focus on clinical sciences and patient care. The four-year program is followed by a 36-month residency. 

In the Know: Professional organizations and resources 

There are several professional pediatric organizations, and all have helpful resources in the field of podiatry, the educational, residency, and licensing processes, and scholarships. Here are some of these organizations: 

Wherever your career journey leads you, thank you for dipping your toes into the world of podiatry! 

Career Spotlight: Genetic Counselor

One of the wonderful things about the world of the health care and medical professions is the variety and quantity of subfields. One great option that straddles the fields of genetics, medicine, and counseling is genetic counseling. With flexible job duties, opportunities for specialization, and direct patient interaction, genetic counselors bridge the gap between specialized knowledge and patient communication. Does this sound like it might be a good fit? Read on to learn about careers in genetic counseling. 

What do genetic counselors do? 

Genetic counselors meet with patients who are considering genetic testing. Genetic counselors help patients to determine the best course of action, based on factors such as the patient’s risk for certain diseases and their family health history. Genetic counselors can meet with patients before and after genetic testing, and part of their work may include helping individuals and families to process the medical, psychological, and familial consequences of their test results. Additionally, genetic counselors may conduct research, teach, work in marketing, or perform other non-clinical work. Genetic counselors often specialize in areas including prenatal, pediatric, oncology, neurology, ophthalmology, and psychiatry. 

Where do they work? 

Genetic counselors can work in several settings, including hospitals, medical centers, private clinics, laboratories, universities, and non-profits. Genetic counseling work is also conducive to telehealth, which means that genetic counselors can sometimes work virtually. 

Who do they work with? 

In addition to meeting with patients, genetic counselors work closely with doctors and other medical staff. Obstetricians, oncologists, and medical geneticists, as well as primary care doctors and other specialists, may refer patients to a genetic counselor. They also may work closely with the families of patients. 

What is the job outlook for this profession? 

Genetic counselors make around $84,886 per year (the median salary calculated by an NSGC survey). Employment is projected to grow faster than average in the coming years. 

How do I become a genetic counselor? 

Genetic counselors receive advanced training in both medical genetics and counseling, in order to fill both genetic expert and counseling roles. Education typically involves a two-year master’s program in genetic counseling, following an undergraduate degree. After earning a master’s degree, prospective GCs take a certification exam, and thus become certified genetic counselors. 

In the Know: Professional organizations and resources 

The National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) is a primary resource for all things genetic counseling related. They have information on education, jobs, and policy relating to genetic counseling. 

The Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC) is also a great resource to know about. As the accreditation board for graduate programs in genetic counseling, it has a directory of accredited master’s programs. 

Lawrence Connections: Alumni in the genetic counseling field 

Lawrence has several alumni with professional experience as genetic counselors! There is no better way to learn about the field than from professionals themselves, so check out these profiles on Viking Connect, Lawrence’s alumni platform. Feel free to reach out to any or all of these alumni! 

Wherever your career explorations lead you, thanks for taking a minute to learn about this valuable field! 

Career Spotlight: Occupational Therapist

Are you looking for a dynamic career where you can interact with people of all ages, in all places, and help create meaning in their lives? Consider becoming an occupational therapist. Occupational therapy is an incredibly flexible field, with opportunities to work in settings as diverse as hospitals, schools, homes, and community centers. Regardless of the setting, occupational therapisits can make a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. Are you interested in exploring this exciting career path? Read on to learn more about the field of occupational therapy.

What do occupational therapists do?

Long story short, occupational therapists help clients to participate in areas of their lives as independently as possible, doing the things that they find most meaningful. In practice, this can look many ways. OTs commonly work with clients who have injuries, acute illnesses, mental health and neurological conditions, and those who have recently had surgeries. The goal of the work is to increase a client’s ability to perform a task or tasks which are relevant to their daily lives. Examples of tasks are trips to the grocery store, socializing with friends, completing school work, engaging in tasks required by the client’s job, and performing certain physical movements. OTs also frequently participate in redesigning a client’s home or another space, in order to increase their independent use of that space.

Where do they work?

The work environments of occupational therapists are incredibly diverse. Depending on the nature of the task(s) that the OT is helping a client with, OTs may work indoors or outdoors, in hospitals, homes, or out in the community. An OT can often choose their work environment(s) based on the nature of their employment, for whom they work, and their client populations. For example, OTs employed in hospitals would be likely to work indoors in clinic/office settings, whereas OTs working with children would be more likely to spend time in schools and/or outdoors.

Who do they work with?

OTs can be employed by many types of organizations, and can also be self-employed entrepreneurs. This provides a lot of opportunities for growth and tailoring throughout a career: you can work in many settings, with many different kinds of colleagues and patients/clients, and in many types of organizations. It is fairly common for OTs to start out employed by various organizations, and to start their own independent practice later in their career. OTs who work in hospitals would tend to interact with other hospital staff, especially other practitioners seeing the same patients (such as doctors, physical therapists, nurses, etc.) In schools, OTs may collaborate with school staff such as teachers, school counselors, and advisors, as well as with parents.

What is the training required?

Practicing as an occupational therapist requires a license. The most common pathway to licensure is to attend a masters program in occupational therapy, which can take 2-3 years following a bachelor’s degree. A growing number of OT master’s programs are transitioning to OT doctoral programs. Browse a list of programs here and explore the differences between entry-level master’s and doctoral programs.

What is the job outlook?

The median annual salary for occupational therapists in 2020 was $86,280. Employment is expected to grow in the coming years. Occupational therapy is lesser known than some other similar fields, which often means there are jobs available with fewer candidates to fill them.

In the Know: Professional organizations and resources

Want to learn more, find resources, or connect with occupational therapists? It’s never too early familiarize yourself with professional organizations in your field of interest. Organizational websites can have a lot to offer, from program lists, to licensing information, to networks of professionals. Here are a few occupational therapy organizations:

Lawrence Connections: Alumni with occupational therapy backgrounds

These Lawrence alumni have backgrounds in occupational therapy. Feel free to message them on Viking Connect, Lawrence’s alumni platform. Alumni are on Viking Connect by choice (not by requirement), so they are here to connect with students! There is no better way to understand a profession than to speak to professionals in the field.

Wherever your career path leads you, we’re glad you took the time to learn about this vibrant, flexible, and expanding field!

Is a Clinical Psychology PhD Right for Me?

Are you considering applying to PhD programs in clinical psychology? The field of clinical psychology can be stimulating, rewarding, and might be exactly where you belong. However, it is important to understand the realities of this profession before ending up in a program or career that is not what you bargained for. Read on to learn some of the factors you might want to consider when making a decision. 

What are the realities of a PhD? 

The biggest challenge with pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology is the competitiveness of admissions to clinical psychology PhD programs. Many programs receive hundreds of applications and accept only 2-10 percent of applicants. Additionally, applicants may not realize exactly what to expect from such a program. For example, PhD programs in clinical psychology are almost always research-focused. They usually espouse a philosophy known as the “scientist-practitioner” model, meaning that they put science (research) first, and practice (training in providing therapy) second. Applicants are most often expected to have research experience. 

Examine your motivations. 

Despite its challenges, there are situations when pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology may be the best next step in your professional and academic pursuits. It may be worth your time to consider your motivations for pursuing a PhD, just to make sure that it really is the option that will make you the most fulfilled overall. 

In an article on psychology graduate school, a writer for the American Psychological Association lists several “bad reasons” one might be drawn to a PhD – in other words, reasons that might not make you the happiest in a PhD program long-term. Some of these reasons are: 

  1. Just wanting to help people (there are many ways to help people that require much less training) 
  1. Wanting to be rich and/or be able to say you have a PhD (clinical psychologists don’t always make as much money now as they used to, and teaching positions are difficult to get) 
  1. Wanting to understand yourself (a degree in psychology will not solve all of your personal issues, and is not the same as going to therapy yourself) 

The APA article also mentions “good reasons” to get a PhD – reasons that hopefully mean you will ultimately be happier in a PhD program than on another path. These reasons include having a passion for psychological research, and having specific areas within psychology that you want to learn more about. 

What are some alternatives? 

Many people interested in psychology or therapy think of a PhD as their only option. However, depending on your area of interest, there are many related programs that may allow you to pursue exactly the career you want without some of the difficulties of a PhD. Here are some graduate programs to consider: 

  1. Masters in Counseling (MA/MS) 

If you want to provide therapy to clients, a masters in counseling is a great option. A masters typically takes 2-3 years to complete, and includes an internship year prior to licensing. Masters programs typically focus primarily on training for working with clients, and the research component is often minimal. Following the program and internship, you would be eligible for licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), or other similar designation depending on the program and state. 

The field of counseling has a distinct history from the field of clinical psychology, but in practice the fields are very similar today. However, be aware that while it is common to become a licensed provider with a masters in counseling, a masters in clinical psychology is usually only a step on the way to a PhD or PsyD, and would not qualify you for licensure. 


American Counseling Association 

American Mental Health Counselors Association 

Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) 

  1. Masters in Social Work (MSW) 

A masters in social work is another great option for those interested in providing therapy to clients. A MSW may also fit well if you would like to work with agencies and in communities, working more holistically with clients, families, and organizations. Doctoral-level social work programs are also available for those interested in social work research. 

Organization: National Association of Social Workers 

  1. PsyD in Clinical or Counseling Psychology 

If you like the idea of a doctoral-level program but aren’t especially interested in research, consider looking into PsyD programs. These are doctoral-level programs that take around the same amount of  time as PhD programs, but emphasize clinical practice training over research. Rather than the “scientist-practitioner” model, PsyDs usually espouse a “practitioner-scholar” model, putting practice training first, and scholarly and research work second. They are often slightly less competitive than PhD programs, and the license designation is the same as that of a PhD: Clinical Psychologist. However, note that PsyD programs are usually NOT funded, and offer minimal scholarships. Thus, the cost can be quite high. If a PsyD sounds like a good fit, however, look into scholarship and assistantship opportunities, as they do exist. 

Organization: American Psychological Association (APA) (for both PhD and PsyD) 

  1. Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) 

MFT programs are masters-level programs similar to MSW and counseling programs. As the name suggests, they tend to focus more on training for relationship and family issues in therapy, but MFTs are licensed to provide individual therapy as well, just like LPCs, LMHCs, and MSWs. There are doctoral programs in marriage and family therapy as well, though one is not required for licensure. 

Organization: American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy 

  1. School Psychology 

Would you like to provide services in schools? School psychologists do just that. They typically work with youth on mental health, learning, and behavior, and often collaborate closely with parents and other members of a school team. There are both masters and doctoral programs in school psychology, and both involve a year-long internship similar to other psychology-related programs. School psychologists are usually credentialed at the state level, although the National Association of School Psychologists also has a national certification process. 

Organization: National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) 

  1. PhD in Counseling Psychology 

PhD programs in counseling psychology are quite similar to PhDs in clinical psychology.  However, while clinical psychology programs lean toward the study of more severe  psychopathologies, counseling psychology PhDs often focus more on life transitions,  relationships, vocational guidance, etc. Additionally, while still highly competitive, PhD programs  in counseling psychology tend to be slightly easier to get into than those in clinical psychology. 

Organization: Society of Counseling Psychology (APA Division 17) 

As you make your decision and consider your options, keep in mind that psychology and related fields are incredibly diverse and flexible. Try to notice if you are placing value judgments on any of these options. If you are, just notice that and maybe ask yourself if those judgments are accurate. It would be a shame to close off options for yourself just because of misinformation, incorrect assumptions, or insufficient awareness of your own interests. As you consider, ask yourself what path will bring you the most happiness, fulfillment, and peace.

Shadowing in the Pandemic? A Guide to Connecting with Health Care Professionals during COVID

Shadowing is an excellent way to explore careers in health care and medicine. The process of shadowing involves observing a professional in their daily work environment to experience the real-life routines and challenges of your field of interest. Unfortunately, many students continue to face shadowing access challenges due to the ongoing pandemic.  However, if you are in this situation, there are still options for you to connect with professionals in the field! You do not need to miss out on the insights and benefits that shadowing can offer. If you want ideas for pandemic-era shadowing and connecting with health care professionals, this resource is for you! 

Is shadowing possible during COVID? 

Yes, and no. Many (but not all) health care shadowing programs have suspended their in-person programs during COVID. For example, ThedaCare (a large healthcare system in Fox Cities) is currently limiting college student shadowing experiences to students who are required to shadow as part of their formal college curriculum, such as nursing school students. However, shadowing policies may vary at this point in time, especially at private or independent practice clinics. For example, there are private/independent veterinary clinics, dental clinics, physical therapy clinics, and other healthcare clinics in the area that are currently allowing shadowing for interested college students who reach out. 

What alternatives are there? Informational Interviewing 

If you are having difficulty identifying shadowing opportunities, consider setting up some informational interviews. “Informational interview” is a fancy term for a simple concept: talking to people about what they do. If you have ever had a conversation with a family member or professor about their career, you have already essentially conducted an informational interview. Here are a few steps to get started with informational interviewing: 

1) Identify people you would like to meet with. You can search in Viking Connect, Lawrence’s alumni platform, to find Lawrence alumni who are working in your field of interest. Click “Explore the Community,” and then search by industry, keywords, etc. You can also reach out to Lawrence professors, friends or family members in the field, or other individuals in your field of interest. 

2) Contact the person to ask to meet. Send a brief email or message in which you say a bit about yourself, your career interests, and how you found the person you are contacting. Mention that you are interested in hearing about their field and/or their career path, and ask if they would be willing to meet for a short time (30 minutes) via Zoom, phone, in person, etc. 

3) Prepare and conduct the interview. The interview itself usually lasts around 30 minutes, and is led by you, the student interviewer. Prepare a list of questions ahead of time, based on what you are most interested in gaining from the experience. Do you want to learn about what their typical day looks like, or what experiences were most valuable for them when they were a student?  

4) Always send a thank-you note. Make sure to thank them for their time, and feel free to stay in touch. 

Also be aware that many health care professionals are working long and intense hours right now, and be respectful of the fact that some might not have the time to speak with students. 

What alternatives are there? Virtual Shadowing 

There are also quite a few opportunities for virtual shadowing experiences, and these are becoming increasingly more widespread due to the pandemic. Virtual shadowing experiences are usually quite different from in-person ones, and sometimes consist of pre-recorded videos as well as synchronous sessions. Make sure to check with each program to see if you can list it as official shadowing experience – this varies by program. 

While the virtual aspect can certainly take away from the direct nature of the experience, shadowing during COVID can offer some unique insight as well. Rarely before has it been possible to observe health care professionals at such an important time in the field, when their service to our communities is especially crucial. This can set the stage for meaningful conversations with health care professionals, if you have the opportunity to speak with them.  

Here is a sampling of virtual shadowing programs: 

HEAL Clinical Shadowing (physician) 

Webshadowers (physician) 

Medschool Coach Beyond Shadowing (physician) 

Teleshadowing (physician) 

Virtual Shadowing (mostly physician, some PA) 

Medical School Headquarters e-Shadowing (physician, PA) 

Pre-Health Shadowing (Medical, Nursing, Dental, Pharmaceutical, PA, PT) 

University of Colorado Virtual Shadowing (physician, nursing, PA) 

Physician Assistant Shadow Online (PASO) (PA) 

Ampers&PA Virtual Shadowing (PA) 

Empowered PAs (PA) 

OT Observation…Plan ‘B’ (Occupational Therapy) 

Dental Shadowers (Dental) 

Career Spotlight: Anesthesiology Assistant

Are you interested in health care careers, but don’t like the sound of 4+ years of professional school training? Not to worry! The truth is, there are many ways to have a sustainable and fulfilling career in health care, and being an anesthesiology assistant might be a great option for you. Are you interested in exploring this career path? Read on to learn about the role of an anesthesiology assistant! 

What do anesthesiology assistants do? 

Anesthesiology assistants work to design and implement anesthesia care plans as non-physician anesthesia care providers. Their jobs involve working directly with patients before, during, and after anesthesia. Before anesthesia, they may be responsible for making initial approaches to patients in order to obtain health histories, performing physical examinations, and recording data. During anesthesia, they may assist in inducing, maintaining, and altering anesthesia levels. Following anesthesia, they may conduct patient rounds, record progress, and complete case summaries. Other duties of anesthesiology assistants include performing regional anesthesia techniques, assisting in intensive care units and pain clinics, and carrying out administrative work relevant to the anesthesiology practice. 

Where do they work? 

Anesthesiology assistants work in a variety of clinical settings including hospitals, private physician offices, clinics, surgical centers, and medical institutions. The ability to become licensed and practice varies depending on the state. Anesthesiology practices in many states currently employ anesthesiology assistants, although in certain states they do not. Some states, including Wisconsin, allow for full licensure. Others, such as Michigan, allow for “Delegatory Authority,” which means practicing under the license of an anesthesiologist. See an up-to-date list of states here. 

Who do they work with? 

Anesthesiology assistants usually work as part of an Anesthesia Care Team and are directed by licensed anesthesiologists. Anesthesia Care Teams consist of physicians (anesthesiologists, anesthesiology fellows, etc.) and non-physicians (nurse anesthetists, anesthesiology assistants, etc). This team works together to provide care to each patient, and all members of the team make themselves known to the patient, so no one operates exclusively behind the scenes. Read more about Anesthesia Care Teams here. 

What training do they need? 

It usually takes about two years after completing a bachelor’s degree to become licensed as an anesthesiology assistant. This training consists of a master’s-level anesthesiology assistant program, at the end of which students may apply for licensure. Browse a list of CAAHEP-accredited master’s programs here (select “Anesthesiologist Assistant” for the profession name). Continuing medical education is also required in order to maintain a license. 

What is their pay and job outlook? 

Anesthesiology assistants are in high demand, because there is a consistent shortage of people trained in the administration of anesthesia. The average salary range for anesthesiology assistants is $95,000 to $180,000 per year, and the projected job growth from 2016 to 2026 is 37.4%, much higher than the average of 8%. 

Where can I go to find out more? Professional organizations and resources: 

Connecting with anesthesiology professional organizations is a great way to form connections and stay in the loop about upcoming events and resources. Here are some organizations you might want to look at: 

Lawrence Connections: Alumni in anesthesiology fields! 

Do you think you might be interested, but still have some questions? Or are you sure this is the job for you, and want some guidance along the winding path that leads there? At any stage of the process, no one can tell you the lay of the land better than an anesthesiology professional themselves! While there aren’t any alumni working directly as Anesthesiology Assistants, Adam Krings is a registered nurse studying nurse anesthesia at Mayo Clinic. Check out Viking Connect, Lawrence’s alumni platform, to find more alumni! 

Finding a career can be a long process, and sometimes one of the biggest challenges is learning what jobs are out there. Wherever your journey takes you, we’re glad you took the time to learn about this important career track!