A career in healthcare opens a world of opportunities to contribute to society, make a meaningful impact, and enhance the quality of life of countless individuals. Yet, like any professional path, it presents its unique set of challenges, requiring specific skills, intense dedication, and the resilience to manage various aspects of human health and well-being.
Before committing to a health career, there are several factors you need to consider for a successful career path, including:
- The Various Health Career Opportunities
When considering a career in healthcare, it’s important to understand the nuances and expectations of various roles in relation to your interests, skills, and professional objectives. For example, if direct patient care appeals to you, roles such as physicians, nurses, or allied health professionals like physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and dietitians may be fitting. These roles typically involve hands-on care, patient interaction, and a deep sense of personal fulfillment from helping others directly. However, they also entail a significant level of responsibility, potentially high-stress situations, irregular hours, and the need for ongoing education to stay abreast of medical advancements.
If you are more inclined toward scientific research and technological innovation, you might consider fields such as medical research, biotechnology, or biomedical engineering. These careers often involve working in laboratory settings, developing new drugs or medical equipment, or conducting studies to advance the understanding of human health.
Healthcare administration, on the other hand, caters to those who wish to manage healthcare facilities or systems. This can range from hospital administration to health policy development. These roles combine healthcare knowledge with business and management skills and are critical for the effective running of healthcare services.
- Education And Its Costs
The academic rigor, the volume of information to learn and remember, practical training, emotional and mental challenges, time commitment, and lifelong learning make pursuing a health career laborious and quite difficult. Not to mention the costs involved in becoming a qualified health practitioner may add to this. Tuition, books and equipment, living expenses, examination and licensing fees, application and interview costs, insurance, interests, and continuing education all contribute to the financial demands of this career path.
Let’s talk about pursuing a dentistry career. Is dental school hard? First, only 55% of the applicants manage to enter a dental school, according to American Dental Education Association. To increase one’s chances of passing, hitting competitive DAT scores, which range from 20-22 per test section, is highly encouraged. It’s also necessary to have a high grade point average (GPA) in undergraduate studies.
Once inside a dental school, the academic coursework, development of clinical skills, and preparation for board exams will keep a medical student busy and challenged. On top of this, dental school application fees and expenses are not cheap, but financial aid, scholarships, and loan repayment programs are available to help offset some of these costs. It’s essential to consider these factors and plan carefully for the financial commitment of a health career.
- Your Motivation
Motivation is a crucial element in the pursuit of a health career, primarily due to the significant academic rigor, extensive duration of training, and high levels of stress associated with these fields. Intrinsic motivation, spurred by a genuine desire to help others and a passion for healthcare, can help individuals persevere through the demanding educational requirements, navigate the complexities of patient care, and maintain a commitment to lifelong learning in rapidly evolving medical fields.
Moreover, health careers often demand personal sacrifices, including financial investment, long working hours, and reduced time for personal pursuits. Without a strong, underlying motivation, these challenges can lead to burnout or disillusionment. Therefore, a deep-seated motivation is not just beneficial but essential in justifying these sacrifices and fostering resilience and dedication throughout one’s journey in healthcare.
Given that health careers involve a significant investment in terms of time and money for education and training, understanding the potential return on this investment is critical. Many health careers offer high earning potential; however, salaries can vary widely based on specialization, location, years of experience, and the specific sector of employment (such as private practice, public hospitals, academia, etc.).
Knowing what you can earn in the long run lets you forecast what your future financial standing will be, making it an important consideration before pursuing a health career.
- Your Strengths And Skills
Different healthcare roles require unique sets of strengths and skills for one to succeed in their job. But there are a number of traits that are common in most medical professionals. For instance, you should be able to work under pressure and take on heavy responsibilities. You should know that, in most cases, the lives of patients depend on the quality of services you provide.
Other skills you should have include the following:
- Attention to detail: In medicine, even the tiniest details can influence how you diagnose a patient correctly. Hence, you should be keen on all information during all the stages of patient treatment, from knowing the patient’s history to evaluating and prescribing medicine.
- Problem-solving skills: In essence, most medical diagnosis is akin to detective work. You obtain clues and evidence in order to provide an effective solution. Being a natural problem solver can be of great help if you want to pursue a career in the field of medicine.
- Teamwork skills: As a medical professional, you should be able to collaborate and work with small or broader teams consisting of different team members hailing from different backgrounds, believing in various religions, and so on.
- Professionalism: Dealing with unruly patients is difficult. The difficulty level even increases tenfold when you’re stressed or feeling sick. At times, you might have a hard time pulling yourself together, but you’re required to do so – all in the name of professionalism. Being professional means showing a calm yet focused demeanor at all times in order to not compromise your ability to provide proper care.
Before enrolling in medical school, ensure you are willing to develop all the required skills to become a successful health professional.
- Your Dedication To Public Service
The health field is service-oriented, attracting students who want to serve and make a change in their societies. Nonetheless, not all students want to dedicate much time to the community.
Thus, you need to evaluate yourself to find out whether pursuing a selfless medical career is something you’d like long-term.
- The Main Challenges Of Being A Healthcare Practitioner
Lastly, considering the distinct challenges of pursuing the profession is just as equally important. For example, working as a health professional may be physically draining. Healthcare workers like nurses usually have to work longer hours. In some cases, patients pass away in front of healthcare practitioners, and this ordeal could be stressful and traumatizing. They are also not exempted from the risks of burnout and malpractice, as well as exposure to diseases or viruses.
Knowing such drawbacks can prepare you psychologically, physically, and emotionally before entering the world of medical care.
Pursuing a health career isn’t a decision to be taken lightly – it requires dedication and preparation to be able to enroll in medical school and complete a medical internship. Once there, you’ll have to start undergoing strict learning and practice that may take several years. In addition, a career track in health requires a heavy financial commitment that comes in the form of expensive tuition, costly books, equipment, tools, and other expenses.
For these reasons, evaluate yourself, your finances, and your readiness prior to starting a career in health. Hopefully, you’ll find the points above useful in your quest to become a successful health professional.
Charlotte Williams is a Californian through and through, born and raised in The Golden State. They have a degree in public health and have been writing throughout their life. During their free time, they like to hike with their dog, Pepper, and do backyard gardening in the spare lot within their property perimeter.