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Here's a look at 10 futuristic health-tech jobs that could be on the horizon sooner than you'd think.
The United Nations forecasts that there will be more than two billion people aged over 60 by 2050. This will drive a need for in-home aged-care companion robots that will manage medication, conduct physical therapy sessions and provide general household assistance. Teams of highly specialised engineers will be required to design, build and maintain these sophisticated robot companions.
Artificial intelligence (AI) will play a greater role in health care as algorithms are developed to help human doctors make diagnoses and other medical decisions based on collected data. However, machine learning will require human training by expert consultants who will continually monitor, refine and optimise the decision-making algorithms.
You've heard of telecommuters – virtual workers who use online tools to work remotely – but we'll soon meet Telesurgeons. As VR technology continues to evolve, surgeons will be able to perform sophisticated surgery without needing to be in the same room – or city – as the patient.
Cryonics is the science of preserving human bodies for future reanimation. Several companies around the world, such as the Cryonics Institute, are already suspending and storing human bodies. As the technology develops from science fiction towards becoming a medical reality, there will be a greater need for Cryopreservation Technicians to oversee the process.
VR will be increasingly used to treat a range of psychological illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) through safe exposure therapy. VR Therapists will have dual specialisations in psychology and VR software development to create rich virtual worlds to help heal their patients.
The world of nanotechnology – the study and applications of extremely small things – still holds huge potential for healthcare. Nanomedical Engineers will build tiny devices that can repair arteries, clear blood clots and even destroy tumours.
As advancing technology allows scientists to create increasingly elaborate synthetic organs and robotic limbs, more people will need to deal with living as part-machines. Enter Cyborg Psychologists – mental health professionals who will specialise in helping people come to terms with living as cyborgs.
The mapping of the human genome has opened up a world of possibilities for gene therapy. People will have the option to screen for their likelihood of developing a wide range of genetic conditions, and will turn to Genetic Therapy Counsellors to navigate their treatment options and deal with the emotional consequences.
Scientists are already working on making synthetic organs and, as this develops into a commercial reality, patients needing organ transplants will visit Synthetic Organ Designers who will create organs designed for each individual recipient's body.
As medical technology increases our lifespans, euthanasia may become more widely accepted. End-of-life Guides will be required to help patients through the process and provide counselling for family members.
While advancing medical technology will require an influx of technical specialists capable of doing the job well, there will also be increased need for counsellors and psychologists to protect our emotional wellbeing in a brave new world.
Drones are set to be another technological advance in the future, with these flying robots impacting health in a big way. Delivering medical supplies in remote locations and even replacing a traditional ambulance in urban high-traffic areas, check out the future of drones in the health industry.