But for Teifel, not bringing home a paycheck was hard to adjust to from the get-go. "I had worked so many years bringing in money that I couldn't justify spending to even get a massage — the extras. That's when I started thinking about what am I going to do."
Her two daughters, both working in the medical field, knew she could find a job in their world. "I was too old to go back to school to get my RN," she surmises, but they told her about the demand for phlebotomists, who make a living drawing blood. "At first, I thought, oh man, that's gruesome," she recalls.
In truth, Teifel was pretty familiar with blood work because of her thyroid condition. "As a cancer survivor, I get my blood drawn all the time," she says. "I wanted to be a better phlebotomist than some of those I had come up against."
She enrolled in a phlebotomy certification program at an Oregon vocational school. It offered an intense course load — anatomy, physiology and medical terminology — plus she learned her way around tricky veins. The price was right — around $1,600 for a six-week course, followed by an 8-week internship at a local clinic.
After attaining her certificate, she signed on as a contractor for the paramedical company, which supplied additional training. Continuing education is required to keep her skills current.
Appointments range from a snappy 15 minutes for a basic exam to over an hour when additional services are requested. She can earn anywhere from $300 to more than $1,000 every two weeks, depending on the number of assignments she accepts. She's paid by the job performed, not the hour.
A basic exam brings in around $20, plus she's reimbursed for mileage costs over 40 miles round-trip. A full exam pays $35 to $40 an hour. Some weeks she may work six hours, not including drive time; others she'll rack up nearly 20. Flexibility is the name of the game. "I get new orders daily and can choose where I want to go," Teifel says.
It's not a job for introverts. The first thing Teifel does when she gets out of the car is look at what someone has in their yard, or in their house, to get a sense of their interests. That way she can strike up a conversation to put him or her at ease before she opens her kit.
"You have no idea how many folks have white coat syndrome, or are just deathly afraid of needles," Teifel says. "I've had grown men start bawling like a baby when I try to stick them with a needle to draw blood. I say, 'OK, put your big boy panties on,'" she chuckles. "I meet quirky people. A lot of friends have told me I should write a book: My Adventures in Examland."
You'll find useful details about healthcare jobs in the Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook and the American Medical Association's annual Health Professions Career and Education Directory.
Here are five great health care jobs to consider. Pay ranges, which will vary based on factors such as experience and geography, are primarily derived from U.S. Department of Labor data.