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Many individuals observe the difficulties faced by others and wish that there was something they could do about it. Some people effect changes by choosing a career where they can help people. The help may come in the form of a service that improves the human condition or a salary substantial enough for donating to charitable causes.

The average person spends approximately 80,000 hours working. That’s a lot of time that’s available to make a positive change in the world. In the medical field, each physician saves approximately four lives every year.

While this seems like a relatively small number, physicians collectively make a big difference in community health outcomes, and as the health care provider shortage settles in, this positive outcome is threatened.

Advocacy is another way for individuals to benefit society. This encompasses working with various groups such as grass roots campaigns and charitable organizations. The more passionate individuals are about a cause, the more likely that their work will yield positive outcomes.

The following 5 highlights showcase a few career paths chosen by individuals who enjoy helping others.

Career 1: Surgeon

Surgeons provide invasive treatment for patients born with deformities or diagnosed with injuries and sicknesses. The doctors work as general surgeons or practice different specialties, such as cardiovascular, neurological, orthopedic or plastic surgery.

Many of these professionals conduct procedures that have never been performed.

Sometimes, they must manage the thoughts and emotions that come with providing service for a patient and not knowing whether the treatment will succeed and the resulting consequences of a negative outcome. However, when procedures go well, as they often do, surgeons have the privilege of witnessing the powerful improvement they’ve made in a patient’s quality of life.

Career 2: Psychologist & Psychiatrist

Although similar, psychiatrists are not psychologists. Both study the mind and specialize in treating mental health and substance abuse disorders, but becoming a psychiatrist requires additional study as they are able to provide patients with prescriptions.

While in undergraduate school, students that study psychology will have the choice on whether or not they’d like to continue on to become psychiatrists.

If more school is not for you, there are a number of other careers choices for psychologist majors. If you’re interested in learning more, check out a resource created by Maryville University Online that lists careers for psychology degree holders.

Career 3: Acupuncturist

Acupuncturists treat patients by inserting thin needles through the skin at varying depths. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), a United States agency that monitors alternative medicine, reports that proof of the concept is limited, except for the fact that the practice does relieve pain.

However, traditional Eastern Chinese practitioners state that the treatment “balances vital energy.” Western health experts surmise that the practice provides benefits by affecting neural pathways.

The World Health Organization (WHO) deemed acupuncture as an effective practice in 2003. However, the practice is still in the early stages of acceptance in the West, with forward-thinking colleges and universities in the United States starting to offer doctoral training in the field in league with traditional medical education.

Career 4: Anesthesiologist

Anesthesiologists specialize in working with treatments that numb some or all of a patients’ body or renders them unconscious for a medical procedure. Anesthesia medicines provide consistent pain relief, while allowing the body to maintain full functioning.

Physician anesthesiologists typically lead a team of specialists working in the discipline. The physicians make anesthesia related decisions before, during and after surgical procedures, and they are responsible for patient safety throughout the intervention.

Career 5: Nurse Practitioner 

With the changing healthcare system and the progressing nursing shortage, right now is a great time to become a Nurse Practitioner. Nurse practitioners provide behavioral treatment for patients of all ages. The treatments that they provide range from general check-ups to educating patients to prescribing medications, and job projections highlight that over the next 10 the need for nurse practitioners is expected to grow by 30%.

Today, doing good is a cultural movement in the United States. That movement is reflected in the career choices made by individuals who want to do their part to improve society. Whether it through time, commitment or charitable giving – everyone can make a positive difference in the lives of others.

For those that choose their work as a means to make a difference, their passion for a cause reflects in their daily work ethic. As an added bonus, these individuals enjoy the feeling of knowing that their time is well spent in making the world a better place.