Science and medicine have brought us some great things. However, the profession is not always glamorous. Some of the most amazing technological advances in medicine are made possible by flavor tasters, skilled smellers, and other unique occupations that do not exactly match your idea of professional behavior…but it's all in a day's work. Here are 10 of the weirdest medical professions.
You can talk for hours with your friends about the subtle taste explosions of wine, candy, or steak, but you probably haven't heard of becoming a professional flavorist. If your taste buds are that sensitive and you have a PHD to boot, you should consider tasting for a living. Also called a flavor chemist, which is an extension of the research scientist position, you are assigned the synthesizing and restructuring of artificial flavors. This service is required not only to improve bitter tasting medications but also to improve hair products and skin products, which also have the “flavor” of smell that can delight or offend. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that you can make as much as $54,000 in this field.
With prostitution among medical students on the rise, it's little wonder that the legitimate medical industry created its own IPSA (International Professional Surrogates Association) for surrogate partners and the therapists who wield them. The role of a surrogate is to report on the behavior of a sex therapist's patient. Sometimes medication and psychological counseling isn't enough to cure impotence, sexual addiction, and adult virginity. Sometimes a helping hand is needed, and the surrogate partner provides needed intimacy. However, IPSA founders distance themselves from prostitution, since sex is not required and the more important issue is how the patient responds to the therapist's treatment. Surrogate Cheryl Greene is the world's most famous surrogate after the Academy Award-nominated movie The Sessions and claims to have helped over 900 people in sexually healing ways, all by using the same form of medicine.
The medical equivalent of a vampire, phlebotomists draw blood for a living to help with transfusions, donations, or other research. However, they are not limited to one facility. In fact, the traveling phlebotomist can go wherever work is available, so as long as all passports are in order. They spend a lot of their time reassuring patients who are squeamish about needles. They can make over $40,000 a year on average. Just don't faint at the sight of blood and you'll enjoy a long and in-demand career.
A sleep technologist specializes in processing, monitoring, and recording data during a person's sleep cycle. In other words, they get paid to watch you sleep. That's creepy. Of course, it's all for a good cause and they get to work with all sorts of polysomnography toys that help them figure out the cause of sleep disorders. The solution could be in CPAP titration or Nasal CPAP, which involves wearing a mask. Whatever the case, you will never think of snoring the same way again.
An oddity of modern medicine, but certainly not one of history, it was actually fairly common to employ a wet nurse in Britain in the 18th century until the scare of syphilis transmitted through breast-sucking began to spread. However, we are not so germophobic as a civilization that we can ignore the necessity of this profession. Baby-ready natural milk is in such high demand in maternity wards across the country that selling breast milk is actually a rising trend in medical facilities around the country.
6Human Guinea Pig
If you lack medical knowledge or college experience but want to be a part of the medical profession that badly, then don't sell yourself short. Assuming that you're in good health and are game for medical experiments which shorten or enhance your life (a give or take sort of thing), then you have plenty of opportunities to be a human guinea pig. The National Institute of Health's Clinical Center offers plenty of opportunities and has over 480,000 subject studies. In case you're wondering, there is a qualification process, even if you've hit this low on the rock-bottom scale. They want to know whether you're 100% healthy and have no diseases or allergies, so as not to compromise their findings. Be prepared to say “no” an awful lot.
Professional babymaker is by no means a medical job, nor is the difficult job of being an egg donator. However, the strictly professional job of “egg broker” involves a medical facility and staff orchestrating and matching donors to childless couples who are seeking outside-the-box (no pun intended) solutions. There is an entire “Task Force Advisory Group on Assisted Reproductive Technologies” that has been organized to oversee the medical professionalism of the egg-donating industry. These workers include infertility specialists, ethicists, obstetricians, gynecologists, and nurses. Just be prepared to break some hearts. Most calls for egg donators request “attractive women under the age of 29” and with SAT scores above 1,300. Genetic prejudice is a factor here.
Don't worry, it's not as gross as you're thinking, but it is still not for the squeamish. The snake milker works in a research lab and experiments with snake venom, hopefully planning the miracle drugs of tomorrow for pharmaceutical companies. Some of the most effective “snake milk” experiments have succeeded in creating drugs that prevent blood clotting and treat hypertension. Just in case you're wondering, it's not really an easy thing to do. Ken Darnell, an expert snake milker, says, “You'd be amazed at how difficult it is for somebody who doesn't know how to do this — to get his mouth open under the funnel.” Of course, he is referring to the task of getting a snake to open its mouth and get its fangs into the milking jar.
Whether one calls himself a nasalnaut or a Master Sniffer, the truth is that even the most ambitious sniffer is no George Aldrich. Aldrich is a chemical specialist in the Molecular Desorption Analysis Laboratory at White Sands and his job is to keep the US space corps from stinking to high heaven. His job consists of sniffing a variety of substances to ensure that they don't become dangerous for a space vehicle. These smelling missions ensure that the space project continues to completion. Though he may have started out as a human guinea pig, Aldrich has since been profiled on the news and been declared a sort of Neil Armstrong of nasal performance. This should be an inspiration to all you aspiring guinea pigs out there.
So a horse walks into the dentist's office…seriously, this job is exactly what it sounds like, except you go to the horse. The equine dentist heads out to the stables to treat horses and ensure their dental health. As with any dental profession, this does require tooth extractions, exams, and teeth cleaning. However, this profession may require both veterinary and dental training, according to state law. The title of “horse dentist” is, of course, negotiable.