Whether you woke up one morning knowing that you wanted to have a career in healthcare, or it’s been a burning desire ever since you can remember, it’s crucial that you do as much research as you can before you actually start your studies. The healthcare sector is a challenging one, and it’s not something that everyone is able to do – it certainly takes a specific type of person and one who not only has all the traits that are required in the healthcare arena but one who is willing to put in as much hard work as possible.
If you’re sitting on the fence or you want to make doubly sure that healthcare is the right place for you to be, here are some useful pointers to help you. Read on for some ideas about what to consider before embarking on a career in healthcare and be honest with yourself; you’ll know by the end whether you’re ready to take on this big challenge or whether you might be happier choosing a different option.
What Is Your Motivation?
If you want to work in healthcare, there must be some kind of motivation behind the idea. It won’t have come out of nowhere, even if that’s how it feels, so think hard about where the idea originated and what it is that excites and interests you about this particular industry. Do you want to help others? Do you love the idea of making a difference? Is it the money you can earn in some areas that is most interesting to you? Maybe you want to put your love of science to good use. These are all fine motivations (although if money is the main factor, you might find that you don’t enjoy the work as much as you would enjoy something else), but it’s important to know what yours is before you start to study for this particular kind of career.
There are bad motivations, of course. If you love medical dramas on TV and think that working in a hospital would be just as exciting and thrilling, that would be a bad motivation – most of the time, these dramas are not true to real life at all. If you think you will meet the love of your life (another idea from TV, perhaps), then, of course, it could happen, but it’s not something to bank your entire career on – you can meet the love of your life in the line at the grocery store, and it wouldn’t matter what career you had.
In other words, think carefully about your true motives for wanting to work in healthcare. There will be good motivations and not-so-good ones, and it’s crucial yours fall into the good side of things if you stand any chance of enjoying your job and being happy in general. The bad motivations will probably just leave you feeling disappointed.
How Will You Get Educated?
For each different job within the healthcare sector, there will be a different set of criteria for entry and for continued advancement. Once you know precisely what job you want to do – there are many to choose from, such as doctors, nurses, therapists, and many more, and within each of these job types, there are many different specialties and departments to choose from as well – you can start to learn more about the studying you’ll need to do and the qualifications you’ll have to get. There is going to be some investment in terms of money, time, and effort, and this might not suit everyone. If you want to start earning money right away, then you won’t have the time to wait to study for a career in healthcare, and you’ll need to pick something else. Of course, if you still want this kind of career, you might be able to study part-time online as well as work elsewhere, so this is another consideration to make. Or perhaps your initial idea was to become a doctor, but when you realize you’ll need to train for upwards of ten years and often more like fifteen, you might amend your thoughts and choose something with less training required, such as being a physician’s assistant.
On top of this, if you want to make the most of your career in healthcare, you’ll need to think about ongoing learning and additional studies. For example, if you’re a nurse and you want to move forward in your career, you can look into nurse practitioner specialties to see what is required. Are you going to be able to keep up with your studies once you’re working? Will you be able to see your ambitions come to life? These are crucial considerations to make, as many people forget about how much studying they’ll need to do in their excitement about working in the healthcare industry.
Are Your Skills And Strengths A Fit?
Every career is going to be suited to a specific set of personality traits, personal strengths, and skills, and it’s no different in the healthcare industry. If your personality and talents don’t match what is required, you can still learn what you need to learn and be part of the healthcare arena, but you might find it much harder than you would find something you are more suited to, and you might not enjoy the work very much. In a career as demanding as healthcare, liking what you do is essential; the long hours, physical exertion, and emotional challenges won’t seem worth it otherwise.
So, what are the skills and strengths that are best suited to the healthcare sector? One of the most important is communication and good interpersonal skills; no matter what kind of healthcare job you have, you’ll need to talk to patients, their families, your colleagues, and other doctors and nurses. Without the right level of communication, mistakes can be made, and you won’t feel confident in what you are doing. If you’re not confident, your patients won’t be either, or this can lead to serious issues. As well as this, in healthcare, teamwork is vital, and if your team can’t understand you or aren’t sure you understand them, they might not want to work with you.
You’ll also need some technical skills, and perhaps some math or science skills. These can, of course, be learned, and will be part of your training, depending on what you are training for. However, if you already have these skills, or at least enjoy the subjects, that training will be a lot easier, and you’ll already have a head start. Plus, liking these subjects will give you a good indication that you will actually like working in healthcare. If you don’t like science or learning technical information, you’ll find your work very difficult indeed and may dislike it as a result, which would mean you had wasted a lot of time and money studying to work in healthcare. This is why research is so crucial; you need to know exactly what you’re getting into before you start. Healthcare is not for everyone.
What Specific Role Do You Want?
As we’ve mentioned above, there are many different roles available in the healthcare industry – they would add up to hundreds, and perhaps more if you were to list them all out in their many iterations. Although it might seem like a daunting task, trying to work out what’s best for you and narrow down your options is a useful thing to do, as it will help you study the right elements and research the right areas.
The best way to understand what you might be best doing is to ask yourself a range of different questions to help you know more about yourself and your career goals. So, to start with, what are your passions? In other words, what is it you really enjoy, what makes you excited? Could it be helping people get past trauma? Could it be performing surgery? What about taking care of children or babies, or perhaps you prefer to look after people with cancer or who have had a stroke? Understanding what it is that drives you – part of your motivation in some ways – will help you to know what direction you want to take your career in. Even if you only know that you want to be a nurse, not a doctor, or you want to be a surgeon and not a therapist, this is a good start. The training for each role is going to be different, although some basics will remain the same, which is why, if you know what you want to do, that will help you get ahead faster.
If you don’t know what you want to do, apart from the fact that you know what you want to be – a doctor, surgeon, nurse, physician’s assistant, and so on – don’t let this stop you; you’ll need your more general qualifications and experience before you can specialize anyway. However, the longer it takes you to decide, the longer your training will take, and this can have an impact on the rest of your life, so make sure you are constantly thinking about what you want to do and work towards that goal once you arrive at it.
Where Do You Want To Work?
Does this sound like a strange question? Wouldn’t a healthcare professional always work in a hospital? Not necessarily. Although it’s probable that a hospital is the first work environment you think of when you think of being a nurse or doctor, for example, there are many other places where these professionals are needed, and if you’re interested in doing something a little different with your healthcare qualifications, the place in which you work could be a good place to start.
For some, hospitals are not comfortable places to be. Perhaps they have lost loved ones in exactly that kind of place, or they just don’t like the smell or the clinical feeling. No matter what the reason, some people simply don’t like hospitals, yet they still want to work in healthcare because they want to help people. This might initially sound like an impossible thing, but remember, we have said there are more places to work than in a hospital, and that means you can still follow your dreams even if hospitals make you shudder.
Some examples of where you can work once you gain your healthcare qualifications in whatever field it is that you are most interested in including:
- Onboard a cruise ship
- Laboratory work
- In the military
As you can see, these options – and many more – open up the world of healthcare to a lot more people who might otherwise have decided against it just because of the hospital element. Remember, though, no matter what you choose, there is likely to be some training required within a hospital environment, so you might need to work in such a place for a short amount of time no matter where you want to work eventually. Would you be able to do this? This is something to think very seriously about.
What About Your Family?
Having a career, you love that you can do well in and that you want to do is crucial to your own health, happiness, and wellbeing. However, although you do need to put yourself first, you also need to consider the impact a career in healthcare will have on those around you. Despite it being what you want to do, if it doesn’t fit in with your current lifestyle, then you might need to put your idea on hold until such time as you can do it.
For example, if you have very young children, working in healthcare might be difficult. There are very long hours, and you’ll be physically exhausted. Will you be able to emotionally and physically be there for your children as well as your patients? If not, it might be best to wait until the children are older and need you a little less, allowing you all a lot more freedom to do what you want to do. The same is true if you take care of elderly parents.
What about if you are currently working in a career that brings in a lot of money to the household? Would anyone be affected if you were to take a pay cut or even earn no money at all while training? If so, then it’s only fair to discuss the consequences with those who will be affected and come up with a plan together. We’re not saying there will be a solution, but it’s worth talking things through to see. It might be that you can achieve all you want to, but it could be that you have to compromise instead. This is something to be talked through at length.