I’m passionate about Disability Rights, but how can I combine that with my degree? Part 1: Health and Science

I know a lot of us who are getting ready to search for jobs out in “the real world” can feel apprehensive and even downright scared. I’ve spoken with a lot of people during my time in college and we are all in the same boat. We don’t know exactly what to do. Maybe you found your passion and maybe you haven’t yet. Maybe you chose a major during the first year and now you’re a senior preparing to graduate with no idea what to do with it. Most of us have been there and many of us still are.

I discovered, a little while back, the joys of engaging with a community. Each person has a unique experience in life with their own individual background and experiences. Coming together as a community who wants to help each other thrive has been rewarding for me. I found a passion in advocating for my rights and the rights of those like and unlike me. Finding a career where I feel a connection to this passion is important to me. 

We are all on different parts of our identity journey and that’s OK. I think it’s a personal and important process that requires time. If you want to engage with the disability community, you do not have to be the “perfect activist”.

In this blog series, I will be brainstorming ideas of how your career path can connect to the disability community. You can find a career where you connect your work to helping people. You don’t have to be a therapist or doctor to help. Any field can include jobs that add to your purpose. Of course, in some you may have to get a bit creative! I’m going to go through the Center for Career Development’s Career Communities and explore ideas. This is going to be a 3 part blog series, because there’s a lot of career options within different fields. 

This first blog is encompassing the careers associated with: 

  • Agriculture, Animals, Food, and the Environment
  • Healthcare and Wellness
  • Science, Data, and Technology

Let’s start with the first topic: Agriculture, Animals, Food, and the Environment 

  1. Registered Dietician
    • Many disabled adults and children can have difficulty meeting their nutritional needs. Some conditions like depression, Celiac disease, eating disorders, diabetes, and many more can be helped by meeting with a dietician or nutritionist. 
  2. Environmental Health Professional
    • This career is focused on preventing diseases and death through tracking environmental risk factors, such as pollution or radiation.
  3. Animal Trainer
    • Service animals can be essential for some disabilities and there are many dogs that need training by a professional to help their owner with tasks and health.

Next, let’s explore Healthcare and Wellness:

  1. Audiologist
    • This medical professional can diagnose, manage, and treat hearing and balance problems. The d/Deaf community is a very large population within disability spaces. Many do not want to be cured of their deafness, but an audiologist can diagnose and support the individual and their family in this process.
  2. Speech-Language Pathologist
    • These doctors can evaluate and treat levels of speech, language, or swallowing problems and they can provide augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems for Autistic patients who are nonverbal.
  3. Physical Therapist
    • PT’s use exercise and massage techniques to help recover movement, reduce pain, and perform day to day tasks in patients with chronic conditions or injuries.
  4. Nurse/Physician
    • Diagnose and provide patient care in a hospital setting or private setting.
  5. Psychiatrist/Psychologist/Counselor
    • Diagnose and provide medication management and/or therapy for patients with mental health disorders or substance use disorders.
  6. Surgeon
    • Use surgical techniques to improve quality of life for patients or save many patients’ lives.
  7. Neurologist
    • Diagnose and treat neurological disorders and disabilities, including migraine, stroke, and epilepsy.
  8. CNA or LPN at a nursing home
    • A large portion of elderly adults have a disability and deserve to be cared for by loving and intelligent nurses.
  9. Home Care Aide
    • Provide care in the most convenient place that an elderly or disabled person can be.

Finally, what’s out there in Science, Data, and Technology

  1. Research Assistant
    • RA’s are entry level research positions in any field of research, whether psychological, chemical, medical, art, etc. Every field needs research. Look for research surrounding specific disabilities and interventions.
  2. Clinical Research Coordinator
    • The Coordinator also works in the research department, but at a more prestigious level. They have a lot more influence over the research choices.
  3. Research Scientist
    • Research, research, research! There’s such a variety of interests and locations. The Scientist is one of the higher levels in the laboratory, usually requiring a PhD.
  4. Biomedical Engineer
    • Biomedical is the most closely associated with medical conditions, but being an engineer could be a really helpful way to advocate. We need the brilliant minds of engineers to come up with new ways for disabled people to thrive in cities, buildings, and their own homes. 

These are not the only jobs in this career community/these industries, etc., but it’s a start. More blogs will include other career communities and are coming soon!

Photo Attribution: Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

By Emily Bretthauer
Emily Bretthauer