The difference between clinical and non-clinical jobs is fairly simple. People in clinical roles treat patients or provide direct patient care, whereas those in non-clinical roles do not provide direct diagnosis, testing, treatment, or care.
Examples of clinical jobs include doctors, physician assistants, and nurses, while non-clinical jobs include medical billers, transcriptionists, and receptionists, to name a few.
This article discusses the differences between clinical and non-clinical jobs, as well as examples of professionals who fill these roles.
Examples of Clinical Roles
Clinical roles often have face-to-face contact with patients for the purpose of diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing care. Some clinical professions are behind the scenes, such as laboratory professionals whose work supports diagnosis and treatment.
Clinical roles often require certification or licensing.
These are roles where the professional provides direct patient care:
- Physician (MD): Doctors typically treat patients, although depending on their administrative duties, that may become less prominent, as with department chiefs.
- Hospitalist (MD): A hospitalist is a physician who specializes in the care of hospitalized patients and whose practice is in the hospital, not in an office. Hospitalists are board-certified in internal medicine and well-versed in the unique needs of the hospitalized patient.
- Physician assistant (PA): A PA provides a broad range of healthcare services traditionally performed by a physician. These include physical examination, diagnosing and treating, ordering tests, preventive health care, patient education, surgical assisting, and writing medical orders and prescriptions.
- Nurse practitioner (NP): An NP is a registered nurse (RN) who has completed a master’s degree and advanced practice certification. NPs provide the same level of care as primary care physicians and can serve as a patient’s regular healthcare provider.
- Registered nurse (RN): The RN manages patient care, assumes primary responsibility for the care of the patient, and directs the care provided by other caregivers.
- Licensed practical nurse (LPN): The LPN assists with the coordination and implementation of the plan of care as delegated by the RN. The LPN is licensed to administer specified medication, take vital signs, and perform many patient care procedures.
- Nurse anesthetist (CRNA): The CRNA is an advanced practice nurse who has specialized education and training in anesthesia. A nurse anesthetist works with an anesthesiologist to comprise the anesthesia care team.
- Psychologist (PsyD): A clinician with a PsyD helps people who have mental illness, as well as those with emotional and behavioral challenges.
- Patient care technician (PCT): The PCT assists with the care of patients as delegated by the RN by taking vital signs, collecting blood samples for testing, and inserting urinary catheters. The PCT also provides personal care to patients.
- Surgical assistant (CSA): The CSA is a certified professional that assists surgeons in a wide variety of surgical procedures, including orthopedic, vascular, and general surgery.
- Nursing assistant (CNA): The CNA provides quality-of-life care for patients in nursing care facilities and clinics under the direction of an RN or LPN.
- Allied health professionals: These include medical assistants, medical technologists, medical laboratory technicians, physical therapists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, speech-language pathologists, dietitians, diagnostic medical sonographers, radiographers, pharmacists, and more.
Examples of Non-Clinical Roles
Non-clinical roles are those which do not provide any type of medical treatment or testing. Some non-clinical workers do interact with patients but do not actually provide medical care.
Non-clinical roles include:
- Medical biller: Interacts directly with patients and is responsible for collecting payments from patients and processing insurance claims.
- Medical coder: Works with patient data to assign appropriate codes for medical procedures and diagnoses according to government and insurance regulations
- Medical transcriptionist: Converts voice recordings from physicians and other healthcare workers into formal reports and edits medical records for accuracy
- Hospital executive: Is involved in the planning, direction, and coordination of day-to-day operations and delivering quality patient care
- Receptionist: Interacts with patients and family members where they welcome, guide, and assist with questions
- Administrative assistant: Works in the back office assisting hospital managers and employees
- Biomedical technician: Installs, maintains, and repairs medical equipment
- Other hospital employees working in departments, such as human resources and information technology (IT)
There are also many other non-clinical roles in the medical industry such as pharmaceutical representative, biomedical engineer, medical recruiter, and medical device salesperson.
Clinical jobs provide direct patient care, whereas non-clinical jobs do not provide direct diagnosis, testing, treatment, or care. Clinical roles range from physicians and nurses to surgical assistants and allied health professionals. Non-clinical roles include medical billers, transcriptionists, employees in IT, human resources, and more.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Family medicine physicians.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Physician assistants.
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