Medical vs. Non-Medical: All You Need to Know

Medical and non-medical fields in healthcare are often intertwined. However, the roles of these fields are very much different. 

Medical jobs are clinical. This means that medical practitioners provide diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing care for a patient. On the other hand, non-medical jobs don’t necessarily involve any patients at all. 

What they do is provide help without needing to attend to patients firsthand. 

It could be confusing, we know. Especially for students that want to enter the healthcare and sciences industry. But don’t worry! Here, we will discuss how medical and non-medical fields differ from one another.


Course Specifics

People often assume that medical and non-medical courses follow a similar syllabus. But, this isn’t true. 

Medicine often needs more theoretical knowledge while non-medical fields need practical knowledge. Non-medical courses focus on honing your analytical skills. Medical courses, on the other hand, focus on applying theoretical knowledge.

For example, even if these two fields both study Biology, medical practitioners use it as general knowledge for diagnosing and treating patients. For instance, a medical biotechnologist manipulates genes and species to find cures for certain diseases.

However, non-medical practitioners use it as a tool to conduct experiments and gather data to bring innovation. One good example is non-medical biotechnologists studying plants and the environment to find new sources of energy such as biofuel.

Being a part of any of these professions will help you add value to a patient’s journey and provide solutions for society. 

Now, let’s talk about how long it takes to complete these courses.

It doesn’t take more than 4 years to study medicine in most countries. But, this period is often followed by a fellowship and residency. So, it can take about 7 years or more, depending on whether a doctor wants to specialize in a certain medical area. 

As for non-medical services, the timeline is shorter. For instance, a hospital administration course takes about 4 years of study. Sure, people choose to specialize after this period. But, students can start working after 4 years of study.

There are also accelerated curriculums for those wishing to graduate in less than 4 years. 


Medical vs. Non-Medical: All You Need to Know



Clearing exams is perhaps the toughest part of a medical study. Medical and non-medical fields have very different exams. Some of the toughest medical exams in the world are:

  • USMLE 
  • MCAT
  • FPMT

The USMLE is among the toughest medical exams around today. The MCAT and FPMT are entrance tests, but the USMLE is a licensing exam. This exam tests over 10 medical disciplines with a series of challenging questions. 

Clinical professionals other than doctors (like pharmacists and nurses) have to write standardized exams too. These exams include the PTCB and NCLEX.

For medical enthusiasts, a qualification in pharmaceuticals is a good option. Sure, PTCB (Pharmacy Technicians Certification Board) exams aren’t easy by any stretch. With PTCB practice quizzes and online courses, cracking the exam isn’t impossible.

These courses have study materials to ease the burden of studying for medical tests. 

Courses like Go Test Prep, Medical Hero, and Edx offer study packages for those wishing to prepare for the exams we mentioned above. Many students take the help of extra resources like these to ace their exams. 

On the other hand, entering non-medical fields doesn’t have similar entrance tests. The entrance tests for these fields might be college-specific. But, there are no standardized entrance tests for non-medical professionals. 

Think about it, any role played by professionals that don’t involve treatment or direct diagnosis is non-medical. These roles include those of admin staff and receptionists. These individuals don’t treat patients. But, they’re a part of the patient’s recovery. 

To become a receptionist or accountant, there are no standardized entrance exams.

Career Opportunities 

Non-medical fields often offer more career opportunities than their medical counterparts.

Even though medical and non-medical fields complement each other, one needs more technical knowledge than the other.

For instance, ophthalmology and optometry are similar fields. But, the latter is the medical counterpart of the former. Ophthalmologists often work in hospitals and eye clinics but optometrists can work in opticians stores as well.

This brings us to a misconception about non-medical courses. This misconception is that non-medical professionals work only at hospitals. Often, non-medical professionals find themselves conducting research and in teaching positions too. 

Non-medical professionals work in the following areas:

  • Hospitals
  • Universities
  • Laboratories
  • Research centers
  • Survey departments
  • Pharmaceutical companies

Working in these areas requires technical and commercial knowledge. Sure, some medical knowledge doesn’t go amiss here. But, the focus is on bettering a patient’s experience, not diagnosing or treating them.

Professionals working in these fields work on furthering the healthcare industry without always interacting with patients.


Medical vs. Non-Medical: All You Need to Know


Money-Making Opportunities  

Research is another viable option for those interested in non-medical services. But, the catch here is that this isn’t always the most lucrative non-medical career. 

Since we’re speaking of lucrative, we can talk about how much money medical careers allow you to make. Medical fields like pharmaceuticals and nursing offer an average salary of $128,710 and $77,400 respectively.

But, physicians and surgeons make much more money averaging $224,190 and $410,305 respectively. So, as you can see, there are vast differences in salary in the medical profession itself. 

Surgeons and physicians make more money but pursuing these fields needs more investment too. Those wanting to become surgeons spend more years studying than nurses do. 

The average surgeon studies for a minimum of 7 and a maximum of 11 years in the U.S. The monetary investment in this qualification is sizeable.

On the other hand, there are lucrative opportunities in the non-medical sector. Taking advantage of these opportunities doesn’t demand too much investment. For instance, the average salary for a healthcare administrator in the U.S. is $380,432.

Pursuing a healthcare administrator job will take a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 8 years (with a Master’s degree). So, as you can imagine, it demands a smaller investment than becoming a surgeon does.


Now more than ever, there are rewarding opportunities for non-medical healthcare professionals. Sometimes, these opportunities even extend themselves to technical writing and publishing.

Sure, medicine remains a sought-after profession in most countries around the world. But, now more than ever, people are recognizing the value of non-medical fields. 

Non-medical fields are very different from their medical counterparts. But, the reality is that these fields thrive off each other. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *