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Accidental Careers

 

When you dont know what to do with your life, an accidental encounter may just fill your prescription.

When Shannon Sanborn somersaulted on her rollerblades, she also crashed headlong into the health care system. Two paramedics collected her from the sidewalk, the emergency room nurse checked her out, a physician ordered X-rays, and a nurses aide wheeled her up so the X-ray technician could photograph her injured back. Recovery was slow. Shannon regularly visited a physiotherapist. A massage therapist freed up some of her uptight muscles. A kinesiologist taught her stomach strengthening exercises to help support her back ligaments.

But her lower spine continued to throb until an acupuncturist broke the pain cycle. "My nerves seemed in a stuck position," recalls Shannon. "The acupuncture treatment cut short the non-stop firing of the nerve cells and allowed my back muscles to heal completely. A combination of western and complementary medicine helped me recover."

The words "doctor", "nurse", and "dentist" may jump into our minds when we think about health care careers. These professionals offer many valuable health care services. But they represent only some of the many people who help us stay healthy. As Shannons rollerblade crash shows, todays health care providers deliver medicine well beyond mainstream practices. From ambulance attendants to transplant specialists, dental technicians to orthodontists, hospital admission clerks to hospital presidents, speech therapists to geneticists, naturopaths to reiki and massage therapists, there is a health career to fit everyone.


KIM VOLUNTEERS

Kim Andersen, 19, says that volunteering is a way of both learning about careers and giving back. Kim began volunteering three years ago. "When my uncle died under Hospice care, our family was treated so well I wanted to do something in return." Kim finds her volunteer work incredibly worthwhile, although sometimes emotionally draining. But she loves it. "I visit with patients," she says, "talk with them, take them to the Rooftop Garden, bring them tea - little things like that. Theyve taught me to be patient and compassionate.

Kim will take what she learns from Hospice staff into her own health care field. She is working toward a physiotherapy degree. "Through volunteer work and some physio I experienced after a fall, I know what I want to do," she says. "Thats essential. Theres no point spending heaps of time and money on school and then realizing you hate your chosen field."


VICKI AND MIKO LEARN ON THE JOB

Jobs in all health care fields are plentiful and the numbers are even more promising in the future. Thats one reason 20-year-old Vicki Klie decided on nursing. Shell graduate as a registered nurse next spring and shes happy about her many options. "I live near Detroit," she says, "and with the nursing shortage I can work in the U.S. or Canada."

Vickis interest in nursing was sparked by a high-school co-op term when she rode with the paramedics. "It was awesome," she says. "Those adventures made up my mind for me." Her nurses training is very hands-on and put her in the hospital since her first semester. "Its an amazing feeling when you connect with a patient or make someone feel better."

"Nothing is more rewarding than making a living helping people," agrees Miko Amouyal, a registered massage therapist from. "Feeling needed, thats whats important to me."

Miko, 24, left his job as a high-performance strengthening and conditioning coach to become a massage therapist.

"I wanted to be effective manually," he said, "I looked into physio, chiropractic and other health care options, but liked the hands-on, short but intense massage therapy training."

Miko, who graduated last year from Zehava School of Massage Therapy, divides his time among a sports injury clinic, a clinic that rehabilitates accident victims, and his private practice. "I like to work a lot and to change my environment," he said. "It helps keep me motivated and interested."


LIZA COMPUTERIZES

Some health care careers deal with people indirectly. Liza Bially coordinates a prototype information management system. Liza and her team are developing a database to help safety coordinators manage and prevent workplace injuries. Liza learned database and interface creation at University. As Liza explained, "these studies prepare you to serve as link between computer programmer and health care practitioner."

During our lifetime we will see health care advances gallop into the future. Well live longer and want to be healthy for our entire lifetime. Well integrate proven medical knowledge, whatever the source. Mainstream and complementary medicine will mingle, ending the raging battles between different kinds of medicine. And some of todays practitioners are the first to take off the gloves and to get hands on with medicinal practices from every tradition.


JAMIE AND CARA TAKE OFF THE GLOVES

At Synergy Health Management, a physician, chiropractor, massage therapist, two physiotherapists, an acupuncturist and Chinese medicine therapist, and exercise rehabilitator - supported by a medical office manager and medical office assistant all work together to help people recover and stay healthy. Theyre a one-stop shop devoted to providing the best possible patient treatment.

The organizing force behind Synergy is Jamie Grimes, 31, who chose his career after a serious back injury while snowboarding. When a chiropractor solved his chronic back pain problem, Jamie made up his science requirements at College. "I was a teenage jock and didnt study my sciences."

Jamie eventually graduated from Palmer West College of Chiropractic in San Jose, California with a doctor of chiropractic degree. "Its absolutely the right profession for me. I enjoy helping people get better. I never get jaded."

As Dr. Cara Ewert, the 33-year old physician, explains, "A group like Synergy has always been my dream. I learn so much from my colleagues. The patients love it. And I see the results. In the past, Id send patients to a physio or chiropractor across town and never learn how they improved. Now I see them get better."

These practitioners are young and highly energetic. Cara, who studied zoology and then earned her M.D., has been a family physician for six years. Shes also completing a doctorate in sports medicine and is a certified acupuncturist.

She finds her work amazing. "So much variety,"
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