There are a wide range of things that can attract someone to a career in health. For some, it’s the great job security, and all the opportunities that comes from building a network in any healthcare institution. For others, it’s a passion for biology, or the sciences in general, and the satisfaction they gain from working with them. Some people are attracted to the health sector out of a simple want to help people. Obviously though, the want to pursue a career in health isn’t the only factor that will affect how successful someone is in doing it. Here, we’ll look at some of the most important things to consider when you’re planning to pursue a career in the medical field.
What’s your Motivation in Pursuing a Healthcare Career?
The motivations we mentioned in the introduction; job security, a love of science, and helping people, are all good and valid reasons why someone would want to get into a medical career. However, if you’re chewing over the prospect for financial reasons alone, it may be worth looking into other fields that will offer you the same pay and job security, without some of the more demanding elements of working in health. Working in medicine can be extremely rewarding and lucrative, but it’s also one of the most stressful professional sectors you can choose to enter. You’re going to be under a lot of mental and physical strain, and you’ll need endurance, commitment, and self-discipline in spades. For many healthcare professionals, this is rooted in a genuine, heartfelt passion for the work they do. At the end of the day, you’re the one who’s going to have to live with your decision to enter the medical field, so take your time considering why you’re doing it, and how this motivation will affect your performance further down the line.
How Are You Going to Obtain the Education and Training You Need?
Spend some time looking into the various degrees, diplomas, training and so on required to enter various jobs in the healthcare sector. Becoming a high-level nurse or doctor can take a huge investment of time and money. Look into the cold, hard requirements in these areas you’ll need to meet, namely how you’re going to pay for your education, and how you’re going to balance any work you need to do with the study and coursework required. If you’d ideally want to be a physician, but you don’t practically have 15 years to devote to education and practical training, you may need to set your sights a little lower. There are always employment opportunities for nurses and physician’s assistants that will allow you to have a hands-on role in people’s health, without needing to meet the high professional criteria that doctors do. While these posts are still very demanding, they don’t usually require nearly as many years of training. If you’re dead set on becoming a doctor, then you’ll need to come up with a long-term savings plan, or start looking into any financing options available.
Are your Skills and Attributes Suited for It?
Each health career, regardless of the specific niche, will require a different set of personal attributes and skills. You could be an expert in medical technology, human biology, or mathematics, and still be poorly suited to a career in medicine. Most patient-facing roles will require excellent communication and interpersonal skills, a very strong work ethic, and the ability to manage stressful situations over long periods of time. Furthermore, a lot of medical jobs require a great deal of personal responsibility, maturity, and a willingness to compromise with colleagues. Your patients’ wellbeing, and in some cases their lives, can depend heavily on the kinds of skills and attributes you can bring to the table. A desire to learn new things, and constantly develop yourself, can also be very helpful when pursuing a career in the medical field. The very nature of medicine means that it’s constantly changing with the emergence of new technology, treatments, advanced procedures, and conditions.
What Specific Role Are You Best Suited To?
Though the work you have to put in to be successful in a medical career can be very taxing, there’s one element of working in medicine that makes it somewhat accessible. No matter what drives you about healthcare, there’s going to be a role that suits you. For example, if cardiology (medical work relating to the heart) is a cause that’s particularly close to you, you could focus your energy on becoming a cardiologist, cardiac nurse, cardiovascular technician, or cardiac perfusionist. If you love kids, and want to devote your career to helping them, then you’re best off going into paediatrics. Even if you don’t end up achieving the practical, hands-on role that many people hope for when pursuing medicine, there are a wide variety of roles to be filled in pretty much any medical speciality. Whether you have extensive post-grad education or simply college qualifications, there’s likely to be some way for you to work in the field you’re passionate about.
Where Would You Like to Work?
It’s also important to think about the kind of working environment where you’ll be most comfortable, and most successful. For example, if hospitals seem too large, fast-paced, and stressful for you, you should generally stay away from roles like surgeon and hospital nurse. If you don’t like the idea of being exposed to death, you shouldn’t pursue a career that’s best suited to a hospice environment. Many people enter the medical field specifically targeting environments like paediatric offices and school medical rooms, where they know they won’t have to deal with serious injuries and illness too regularly. If your interpersonal skills are a little thin on the ground, or you don’t like the thought of being up-close with human suffering, you may want to pursue a lab job, or perhaps even a pathologist in a coroner’s. There are also a wide range of non-medical environments that may require a healthcare professional, such as addiction rehab clinics, domestic and foreign military bases, and cruise ships. Again, though the educational bars can be demanding, this is one area where medical careers are more accessible than many people think. If you want to work in healthcare, but don’t want to work in a hospital or clinic, then you still have a lot of options available.
How Will Your Career Impact your Family and Personal Life?
Last, but certainly not least, you need to consider how the medical career you choose to pursue is going to impact your family life, and your personal relationships with other people. We’re talking about the time you’re in school, following up with practical training, and working the job you eventually get. For example, if you land a career as a doctor or nurse, there may be times where you’ll have to work weekends and late nights when you’ll be on call. Furthermore, you need to consider the amount of residencies and jobs that are open in your local area, and whether or not you’ll need to relocate at some point in the future. If it turns out that a move is necessary, is it going to be feasible and practical for your family? How will the financial restraints of your education impact your relationships? Before you invest any money, energy, and time in pursuing a healthcare career, it’s absolutely crucial to consider how it’s going to impact your personal life in the short and long term. Medical careers can unfortunately be a major strain on personal relationships, and you need to decide what your priorities are.