Air Force Enlisted Medical Careers

Healthcare is a complex beast in the 21st century. The days of seeing one general practitioner for all of your needs are over, replaced by a team model composed of numerous specialized doctors, nurses, physician assistants, and technicians.

That means breaking into the field at entry-level can be daunting, but the plethora of enlisted healthcare careers available in the Air Force provides high school graduates with opportunities aplenty to receive training, certifications, and experience that put them ahead of the pack in the healthcare job market.

Aerospace Medical Service Technician

Special Forces Corpsman
MILpictures by Tom Weber

Airmen in the medical service tech field are the Air Force's equivalent to the Army's medics or the Navy's hospital corpsmen.

Although the Navy's corpsman rating covers a lot of specializations that the Air Force treats as separate career fields (like dentistry or biomedical equipment) Air Force medics still receive many similar opportunities to train, specialize, and branch out. Beginning with general patient care and administrative duties, they may receive training to fill more complex roles such as independent duty, hemodyalisis, or licensed practical nurse. More

Biomedical Equipment Technician

Although more an electronics technician than a patient care specialist, the biomedical equipment technician's (BMET) place on this list is still well-deserved. Without this career field, equipment would be falling apart left and right, and healthcare in the military's youngest and most tech-savvy branch would be reduced to popping pills and hoping for the best.

With a hefty 41 weeks of schooling under their belts, Air Force BMETs are expected to repair a wide variety of equipment, from basic information technology devices to complex surgical and diagnostic imaging machines. And that doesn't just mean swapping out parts: Training includes troubleshooting and repairs at the circuit board level. More

Cardiopulmonary Laboratory Technician

Cardiopulmonary (CP) lab techs spend almost a year of their first enlistment going to school at the Medical Education and Training Campus, but if you ask me, it's worth it to get into such a fascinating career without having to go for a degree. CP techs assist with a wide variety of procedures and therapies, including electrocardiograms, angioplasty and stent placement, and respiratory therapies such as intubation and mechanical ventilation. More

Diagnostic Imaging Technician

These folks operate and maintain the various high-tech beasts that allow us to see inside the patient. They generally begin working as x-ray technicians, but with training and experience, opportunities in ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, and nuclear medicine open up. More

Diet Therapist

Having someone around who can get into the nitty-gritty with patients about improving their diet for optimal health is no joke. If doctors and nurses had to go into the level of detail that diet therapists handle, they'd never leave work.

Diet therapists handle day-to-day menu planning for patients in the Air Force healthcare system, but they also make rounds and coordinate with the staff on the floor to make sure that special needs -- diets for surgery patients, those with diabetes, and so on -- are addressed thoroughly and safely. More

Surgical Service Specialist

Let's keep things simple: These folks are the "scrub techs" of the Air Force's surgery team. But that doesn't mean the job itself is simple. Vital to keeping the patient safe and free from infection -- and keeping the surgeon happy, as well -- scrub techs maintain sterility during surgery, maintain equipment, anticipate equipment needs, and keep a strict count of everything that goes in and out of the patient. Scrub techs may also specialize in areas such as urology and orthopedic surgery. More

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