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15 Things Only People Who Work in the Medical Field Will Understand

15 Things Only People Who Work in the Medical Field Will Understand

If you opted for a career in the medical field, no doubt the prospect of saving a life or bringing a new life into the world attracted you. The benefits of a rewarding job where dedication and skill are in high demand appealed to you. But the daily reality is, of course, less enchanting as you deal with the challenges, difficulties and frustrations. Here are 15 things nobody mentioned when you opted for a career in medicine.

1. You understand the high suicide rate.

If you are a doctor or surgeon, the stress of making a mistake and living with it afterwards is almost intolerable. It is estimated that 98,000 people die a year because of medical errors. The effects on medical staff speak for themselves. One doctor a day kills himself, according to the the Journal of the American Medical Association. The medical profession is the one with the highest suicide rates and this is mainly due to undiagnosed and untreated depression. You know that there is nothing wrong with getting treated for depression although the figures tell another story.

“If we teach doctors to recognize depression in themselves, they will recognize it in their patients.”- Dr. Paula Clayton, medical director of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

2. You have to keep up with electronic developments.

Doctors are notorious for their bad handwriting. This can lead to mistakes when the pharmacist misreads the prescription. A shocking 7,000 deaths used to occur a year because the wrong medicine was given and administered. You are acutely aware of this and now electronically send the prescription straight to a pharmacy of your choice. You know that this is important because there has been a 90% drop in medical errors since this technology was introduced.

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3. You cannot stand the colleagues who will not admit their mistakes.

If you are a nurse, you have a tough life with the schedules and shifts which can upset your sleep and rest and it takes ages to adjust. But the worst thing of all is when your colleagues cover up their mistakes and do somersaults rather than admit their guilt. You may have to consider a career move unless you can overcome the backstabbing and politics. You console yourself with the thought that there is energy and healing in your hands until you find something better.

4. You hate patients who consult Dr. Google.

If you are a doctor, you know how many patients (around 35%) have already diagnosed themselves on Google before they even get to your office. They know all the answers, risks, diagnosis and their chances of recovery. This is extremely irritating and you wonder if they ever realize how much training you have had to do. You try to suppress your irritation and tell them that Google is not always a reliable source.

5. You need to have incredible stamina.

People think that a career in the medical world is exciting, dramatic and even glamorous. The harsh reality is that if you are a doctor or nurse, you know only too well that you have to have incredible stamina and energy, just to survive. The average nurse has to walk more than 4 miles a day when she or he is on shift. For doctors, long and irregular hours plus the fact of being on call for emergencies calls for boundless energy and stamina. You know that the only solution is to take care of yourself and not get stressed out or exhausted.

6. You may have to face the nightmare of a malpractice lawsuit.

If you are a doctor or nurse, you know that the nightmare of medical malpractice lawsuits is never far away. The numbers of these suits aimed at doctors has skyrocketed. God, fate and age are no longer blamed for death. The doctor is in the first line. The greatest number of cases are in the OB/GYN where doctors have to pay about $200,000 a year for their insurance. You are only too keenly aware that the more preventive tests you order, the more you are likely to make an error as the possibilities multiply. You sadly reflect that the best protection is to keep as up to date as possible about the latest developments in your specialty.

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7. You are the unsung heroes.

Imagine coming into work on a voluntary basis to save your hospital from collapsing? The pressure on A&E (Accident and Emergency) units in the UK is facing a crisis as winter illnesses overwhelm the hospitals sinking into chaos because of staff shortages and cuts. The Royal College of Nursing said that working overtime was a now a daily reality for many medical staff. The doctors’ union warned that long hours were unsustainable and was putting patients’ lives at risk.

8. You are constantly being monitored.

There are now so many organizations online that monitor health care that you feel that are being constantly monitored. The pressure is enormous as patients shop around for the best possible medical care. It is now a pay-for-performance world and the insurers are calling the tune. Every patient you look after is monitored long afterwards to see if they have to be readmitted. If you are a hospital executive under pressure you know that the best way forward is partnering with the patients who are now very well informed.

“Patients are no longer content with what they had to put up with in the past. Instead of a one-sided relationship, we are now partnering with our patients. It’s actually a great time for us to renew our commitment to quality, safety and patient satisfaction.”- Lynne Wagner, Chief Nursing Officer at Denver’s RoseMedicalCenter.

9. You have to put up with difficult patients.

You know the ones I mean. They are demanding, impatient, entitled, argumentative and hostile! They complain and demand enormous chunks of your time. To avoid arguments, simple solutions like written notices in your office about medication refill procedure will help. As regards the difficult customers, the best solution is to try and hone your communication skills. It is irritating but you may have to listen more. You may have to reflect on how you are communicating complex medical terminology in everyday language.

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10. You are trying to avoid burnout as best you can.

When you get burnout as a nurse you are paying a very high price for working conditions which must be improved. Look at what you are expected to tolerate. You have the same rates of pay and with additional workload. Mental and physical exhaustion are just the results of working in a chaotic and stressful environment. This may put patients’ lives at risk. You are aware that the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics are urging new nursing school graduates to take part in nurse residency programs. In the meantime, you dream about better support, more human scheduling and better compensation.

11. You are burdened with changes in legislation.

If you are a doctor running a medical practice in the US, you know better than I do that you have to convert to the ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases-10th revision ) by October 2015. Apart from the costs which could run up to $100,000 for some small practices, there is all the hassle in revamping the systems in place for new software for billing and health records. Wherever you practice medicine, the state bureaucracy is always looking over your shoulder. The best solution is to seek advice from medical associations and be sure you are up to date.

12. You do not see a bright future.

If you are a nurse, you know that there are never enough nurses! You gloomily look at the forecasts and note with alarm that in the USA, there will be a shortage of 1 million nurses by the year 2020. You also know that if there were enough nurses now, this would mean 6,700 fewer deaths. You feel proud that you are part of the glue that holds the medical system together.

13. You feel that your real job is being taken over by paperwork.

If you are a doctor, you spend more and more time online trying to cope with all the paperwork and keeping up to date, not to mention lifelong learning and self assessment for internists. A whopping 58% of doctors in 2013 spent more than one day a week on paperwork which jumped to 70% in 2014! You wonder why you cannot spend more time with your patients which is why you graduated. Now you know why more and more doctors are selling their practices.

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14. You begin to wonder about the investment in time and money.

Training to be a doctor is no joke and is extremely expensive and time consuming. Some estimates say that you spend anything from 10 to 17 years to get qualified. Apart from the graduate training, you have to spend additional years at medical school doing lab work together with medical ethics. Then you have to spend more years training in your specialty. You may have to do a three year residency at a teaching hospital. The only consolation is when you save someone’s life or help someone get over a serious illness. Yes, it was well worth it!

15. You took a short cut.

If you decided that the easy way out to get into medicine as a PA (Physician Assistant) was a good idea, you are now beginning to have second thoughts. The tough thing is that while the training was dead easy with just two years, the chances of moving up the career ladder are limited to say the least. You are always working under supervision and have practically no autonomy. The only consolation is that there is a chance to move between specialties.

What are the worst things about working in the medical field? Let us know in the comments.

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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