Careers in the medical field have consistently been popular. Medical professions can be stable, well paid, and there’s always a need for medical personnel. In fact, the demand for health care professionals is rising in the US owing to the nation’s growing aging population.

Medical careers have also gained immense popularity due to successful medical TV shows like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “House” or “ER.” These fictional portrayals paint a very exciting picture of the medical field: you puzzle over mysterious illnesses, develop unorthodox treatments, and save lives at the last minute.

Whether you are interested in pursuing a medical profession because the field offers promising career prospects or you have always loved above-mentioned TV shows or because your favorite subjects in school were biology and chemistry, you should consider some things before entering the medical field. There are plenty of different medical professions, so you want to make sure you chose the right one for you.

1. What is your motivation?

A healthcare career is extremely demanding, from the extensive training to the huge responsibility on the job, so you need to examine your motivation thoroughly. If you’re seeking constant adventurous excitement and romantic entanglements as seen in “Grey’s Anatomy”, you should probably re-consider your career plans. Since you will be assisting people in improving their health, helping others ought to be part of your motivation. That said, there are other factors that can play into your career choice as well. Maybe you’re excellent at biology and chemistry and wish to work in a pharmaceutical lab to develop / improve treatment methods. If you’re looking for a position with a lot of advancement opportunities, the medical field offers a wide array of options for you.

2. Where do you want to work?

Healthcare professionals work in very diverse environments. Again, this question also addresses your motivation: If you want to help people, you might want to work in a hospital or in a practice. If you’re good with children, you could be employed by a pediatric clinic, or if you wish to assist senior citizens, you could look for a job in an assisted living community. If you prefer not to interact with people, you might chose to work in a lab or in an administrative office. It’s also important to examine what you don’t want in your medical job: If you’re very emotional, you might not want to work in a hospice. Similarly, if you’re sensitive, avoid working in the ER. In addition, there are also some more unconventional work environments for medical professionals, such as military bases, schools, or cruises.

3. What kind of role do you want to assume?

Determining what sort of workplace you want to join is closely related to the type of role you’d like to assume. There are several kinds of medical careers: medical jobs (doctor’s, practitioners, surgeons, etc.), nursing jobs (nursing profession and levels), allied health jobs (lab works, technicians, and technologists), non-clinical medical work (health service and caregivers), and administrative medical jobs (office and records work). If you’re good with people and like teamwork, you could work as a physician or a medical assistant. If you’re energetic and stress-resistant, you would be a great addition to the ER or at a military base. If you’re a very meticulous and well-organized person, you would be an ideal candidate as a pharmacy technician or a medical billing and coding specialist.

4. Do you have the necessary skills and strengths?

As you can already tell, different medical professions require different skills and strengths. However, they usually share some essential requirements. For almost all positions in the medical field, you need to be able to work under pressure and shoulder a lot of responsibility. You must realize that a person’s health and sometimes their life depend on the quality of your work. Furthermore, most roles demand excellent interpersonal and communication skills, as you usually work with people of all age groups and cultural/ethnic/religious backgrounds. Moreover, the majority of medical professions also expect some level of technical or mathematic ability. In many medical jobs, you will often have to work long and odd hours, which requires a lot of flexibility and resilience.

5. What education/training do you need?

Within each medical specialty, jobs are available for any level of education, from high school diploma to graduate school degree. Moreover, the healthcare field is an ideal option for you if you’re looking for a job with plenty of advancement opportunities, as it changes constantly due to innovative technology, improved procedures, emerging treatments, and even new diseases. Nowadays, there are actually more than 200 health care career options, so you should invest some time into researching them and what kind of training they require. Some professions demand a training certification, some a college diploma, and others a medical school degree. Depending on the profession you pursue and the school you attend, your minimum training can range from 6 months to up to 15 years. This means you have to consider how much time and money you want to invest in your medical career.

Answering these questions should help you chose the right path for your medical career. If you have decided what profession you wish to pursue and learned how much time and money the respective training will require, make sure you (and your family) are prepared for the personal and financial investment. Training programs can be very energy, time and cost-intensive, so plan ahead thoroughly. Look for funding options (some schools offer financial aid or some businesses compensate their trainees), and compare the schedules from different programs (there are programs tailored for people who work full or part-time). Furthermore, check what type of medical profession is in demand in your area or, if you’re willing to move, what state or city is most advantageous for your desired position. Even though a career in the medical field can be challenging, it is without a doubt very rewarding – in every aspect.

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Featured photo credit: Doctor looking on ct scan at night dutyvia Shutterstock

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