Healthcare 101 – Introduction to Specialization

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I could use some insights. I’m taking an intro to healthcare administration class and need some help completing an assignment. I’m having a hard time not only finding the right sources but also understanding everything I come across. There’s a lot of medical jargon in the scholarly articles I’ve found through our library databases.


That’s why I could use some guidance. I’m supposed to present a series of healthcare specialties with relevant examples. Everyone in the class has ten to fifteen minutes to finish the presentation. Then there’s a two- to three-minute question and answer session.


I’m not a terribly good presenter, which is what makes this last project even more challenging. Any help or direction would be very much appreciated!


Public Speaking


You can at least take solace in the fact that you aren’t the only one who detests the thought of a public presentation. The fear of public speaking, or “glossophobia,” to medical and healthcare professionals, happens to be one of the most commonly shared social anxiety disorders (SAD) amongst people regardless of mitigating factors (e.g., age, cultural identity, national origin, education level, sex, etc.). Peter Khoury at Magnetic Speaking has done a great job of highlighting the most compelling statistics related to the fear of public speaking. There’s no doubt, then, that some of your peers are experiencing similar emotions while preparing to present their own assignments.


Fortunately for you, since the fear is almost universal, much has already been written to help people overcome it. Marjorie North published an extremely helpful article on the Harvard School of Continuing Studies blog, which highlights ten tips for improving public speaking skills. Her suggestions are salient to public speakers at any level of confidence. She reminds people that nervousness is only natural. The physiological responses (e.g., accelerated heart-rate, perspiration, nausea, etc.) don’t necessarily vanish or even diminish. Successful public speakers learn to deliver their intended message in the face of those unwelcome feelings.


Other important takeaways have to do with knowing your audience and learning to adapt your content delivery to immediate feedback. That means appropriate preparation and a highly-developed intuition. The ability to interpret the reactions of a present audience and adapt your message accordingly can take years to master. That’s also why it’s important to remember other key points (e.g., using humor, animating your narrative with gestures, etc.). Almost all audiences appreciate those things, no matter what the subject matter is. Given the nature of your topic, however, one could argue that using humor and animated gestures are even more important to add some levity to the setting. Although you’ll have to be careful because too much levity can quickly and inadvertently become offensive. There’s a definite balance to strike.


Example I – Cardiovascular Disease/Disorders


Healthcare is an extremely broad field with countless specializations. Selecting an obscure field might sound appealing, but then you’re much more likely to encounter dense medical jargon. You can’t very well expect to educate your audience if you can’t educate yourself first. That’s why cardiology is a reasonable place to begin. Heart disease is nothing new to Americans, whereas autism is still shrouded in relative mystery.


You should first define cardiology for your audience. Staff writers at the Texas Heart Institute define cardiology as “diagnosing and treating diseases or conditions of the heart and blood vessels–the cardiovascular system.” The most recent report published by experts at Johns Hopkins indicates that approximately 84 million Americans suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease. That’s between a quarter and a third of the entire US population. The figures become more troubling when you begin to investigate how much is preventable (i.e., the result of lifestyle decisions).


Suffice it to say that there’s no shortage of people seeking cardiac care of some type. For some, the difficulty has to do with knowing when they should see a cardiologist. Fortunately, Harvard Medical School put together a small guide to help people make that decision. The authors also do readers the favor of highlighting several related subspecialties (e.g., interventional cardiology, electrophysiology, congenital heart disease, etc.). Each specialization addresses a unique circumstance or issue within the wider array of cardiovascular treatments.


Becoming a cardiologist is no trivial pursuit, either. Staff writers at Doctorly have already broken down the educational and career trajectory. The first step is obviously earning a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, or cardiovascular technology (CVT). Then comes the medical college admissions test (MCAT). The most competitive medical schools typically require a threshold of performance on the MCAT. Admitted medical students can then expect to spend four years there. The highly coveted residency program comes after graduation from medical school and lasts three years. The conclusion of your residency program segues into the final chapter, which is a three-year fellowship program. That means you’ll spend thirteen to fourteen years preparing for your career–all in the name of helping people.


Example II – Chiropractic Disorders


The chiropractic field is commonly misunderstood but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. According to experts at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “chiropractic is a healthcare profession that focuses on the relationship between the body’s structure–mainly the spine–and its functioning.” They go on to explain that chiropractic treatments are often considered a complementary health approach. The grand majority of chiropractic patients suffer from lower back pain originating from spinal issues. Those figures aren’t insignificant, either.

Editors at the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) estimated that as many as 34 million Americans experience lower-back pain at any given time. That means almost ten percent of the US population might be enduring pain on a daily basis. Judy Koutsky at Prevention put together a thoughtful article acknowledging the popularity of chiropractors for addressing lower-back pain. She also suggests that chiropractors can help address neck pain, pregnancy pain, digestive issues, and headaches. The wider range of applications might also be partially responsible for the growth in chiropractors in the US.


It used to be that those interested in seeing a chiropractor would have to travel considerable distances. Even someone living in upstate New York might be forced to travel into Manhattan or its surrounding bureaus to get treatment. That’s simply not the case anymore. For example, someone can easily find chiropractic care in Rochester, NY or another northern city like Syracuse or Ithaca. The same could likely be said of most heavily populated American states. People love to have options.


The process of becoming a chiropractor is again no simple endeavor, but it certainly isn’t as onerous as becoming a cardiologist. Writers at detailed the career path in five easy steps. Earning a bachelor’s degree isn’t necessarily required to become a state licensed chiropractor, but it’s almost always preferred. The next step is attending one of only a few accredited four-year chiropractic colleges. You would graduate with a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree. Passing the relevant state licensure examination and then maintaining that valid licensure is all that’s left. One could realistically become a practicing chiropractor in only about eight years.


Example III – Orthopedic Disorders/Conditions


One final example that’s relevant to a great many young people (i.e., your audience) is the rise in treatments for orthopedic conditions and disorders. The Department of Orthopedics at the University of Colorado explains the field as “a line of surgery and treatment involving the musculoskeletal system, and can entail degenerative conditions, trauma, sports injury, tumors, and congenital issues.” You’d be surprised how many general physicians refer people to orthopedic specialists who are then referred onward to a physical therapist. That’s because athletic related injuries are much more common in young people. In fact, researchers at Duke University have strong opinions about the trend, especially when it comes to the injuries in adolescent sports.


Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported similar findings when it comes to injuries stemming from sports and other recreational activities. Is the increase the result of negligence, carelessness, the cultural pressure to succeed, or something else altogether? The results are still inconclusive, but what’s for certain is that there’s also an increasingly large demand for orthopedic specialists and surgeons. People want access to state of the art orthopedic care. They deserve to have it.


Staff writers at describe the steps necessary to pursue a career as an orthopedist. The academic requirements for an orthopedist more closely resemble the ones for a cardiologist. Earning a bachelor’s degree with a concentration in biology, chemistry, physics, or mathematics is essential for entrance into medical school. That also means you’ll have to once again prepare for and take the MCAT. Graduation from medical school then inevitably leads to a competitive residency program. The entire process often takes about eight or nine years.




Don’t feel obligated to use the examples given to you. There’s clearly no dearth of options out there, and perhaps you’d find other more compelling. Either way, you’ll have to be sure to practice your delivery. Don’t underestimate the value of practicing with other people. You should definitely gather feedback before you do the real thing.


“Wherever the art of Medicine is loved, there is also a love of Humanity.” — Hippocrates