Do you have a yearning desire to have an occupation in the medical field? Do you feel that you are more suited to the behind the scenes, cognitive processes of the human mind and how it ties into the medical world? If you said yes to each of these questions, then you will surely want to consider the career path of a health (or medical) psychologist. The field of health psychology is comprised of the studies of environmental, cultural, biological, and psychological factors that are related to illness and psychical health. In this profession, you should expect to work along with other medical professionals within clinical settings. You will also likely be responsible for conducting research and making behavioral changes in public health.
Depending upon your level of education, you may also be eligible to teach at the university level. This will make it possible for you to teach students who are beginning their schooling in a health psychology field the chance to learn from someone who has relevant real world experience.
While the makeup of the health psychology field has evolved over time, it now contains four divisions. These divisions include community health psychology, public health psychology, clinical health psychology, and critical health psychology. It is important to understand that the term health psychology is often used synonymously with medical psychology and behavioral medicine. No matter which of these titles you use in your professional capacity, you will be working with individuals such as occupational therapists, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, physicians, physical therapists, dietitians, and dentists.
Regardless of which of these medical professionals you are working alongside, you will be conducting research, providing treatment services for your patients, and providing clinical assessments regarding your patient’s medical and psychological issues. Although not all health psychologists practice in the same capacity, your knowledge and training will make it possible for you to work in the area of prevention. Should you pursue this psychological area, you could determine interventions that will be performed in the hope of reducing the risk of disease and promoting good health and well-being.
It is most common for health psychologists to provide clinical services to their clients; however, some individuals in this profession choose to function in a non-clinical role, such as research or teaching. Along with promoting good health among individuals, you will probably also be responsible for suggesting ways that our health care system and health care policies can be improved. Your work will likely also focus on ways that smokers can break their habit, as well as how individuals can improve their daily nutrition. Past health psychologists have studied the connections that exist between a person’s personality and attributes such as: depression, emotional instability, thrill seeking, hostility, and impulsiveness.
Therefore, you may find yourself conducting research or working with attributes that are evident in a person’s personality and the reasoning behind it. It is also common for health psychologists to work with patients who have been diagnosed with a specific disease. In this capacity, you would likely be working to help your patients practice healthy habits and to adhere to the treatment plan that has been identified by the doctor.
As a health psychologist, one of the main focuses of your work will likely be to improve the communication that occurs between patients and their doctors. By improving doctor-patient communication, it is also possible for you to improve how well a patient follows the advice of the doctor. In addition, improved communication also makes it possible for patients to manage their pain more efficiently and appropriately.