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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 March 25, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up. You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out.

But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

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Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

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Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

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Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

More Resources About Ever-Growing

Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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