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5 Tips to Help You Choose the Right Medical Career Path

5 Tips to Help You Choose the Right Medical Career Path

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

How to Make a Career Change at 50 for Great Opportunities

How to Make a Career Change at 50 for Great Opportunities

Turning 50 is a milestone in anyone’s life, after all you are half way to 100! But seriously, turning 50 is often a time in life when people can sit back and take a look at where they’ve been and contemplate what the future holds.

Can you change careers at 50? It’s not uncommon for people in their 50’s to consider a career change, after all if you’ve spent 20 to 30 years in a career, chances are that some of the bloom is off the rose.

Often, when we are starting out in our 20’s, we choose a career path based on factors that are no longer relevant to us in our 50’s. Things like our parents’ expectations, a fast paced exciting lifestyle or the lure of making a lot of money can all be motivating factors in our 20’s.

But in our 50’s, those have given way to other priorities. Things like the desire to spend more time with family and friends, a slower paced less stressful lifestyle, the need to care for a sick spouse or elderly parents can all contribute to wanting a career change in your 50’s.

Just like any big life changing event, changing careers is scary. The good news is that just like most things we are scared of, the fear is mostly in our own head.

Understanding how to go about a career change at 50 and what you can expect should help reduce the anxiety and fear of the unknown.

What are Your Goals for a Career Change?

As in any endeavor, having properly defined goals will help you to determine the best path to take.

What are you looking for in a new career? Choosing a slower less stressful position that gives you more time with family and friends may sound ideal, but you’ll often find that you’re giving up some income and job satisfaction in the process.

Conversely, if your goal is to quit a job that is sucking the life from your soul to pursue a lifelong passion. You might be trading quality time with family and friends for job satisfaction.

Neither decision is wrong or bad, you just need to be aware of the potential pitfalls of any decision you make.

Types of Career Changes at 50+

There are four main types of career changes that people make in their 50’s. Each type has it’s unique set of challenges and will very in the degree of preparation required to make the change.

Industry Career Change

In this career change, a person remains in the same field but switches industries.

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With an industry change, a person takes their set of skills and applies them to an industry that they have no previous experience in.

An example would be a salesperson in the oil and gas industry becoming a salesperson for a media (advertising) company. They are taking their skill set (selling) and applying it to a different industry (media).

This type of career change is best accomplished by doing a lot of homework on the industry you want to get into as well as networking within the industry.

Functional Career Change

A functional career change would be a change of careers within the same industry.

For example, an accountant at a pharmaceutical company who changes careers to become a human resources manager. It may or may not be with the same company, but they remain within the pharmaceutical industry. In this case, they are leaving one set of skills behind (accounting) to develop a new set (human resource) within the same industry.

In a functional career change, new or additional training as well as certifications may be required in order to make the switch. If you are considering a functional career change, you can start by getting any training or certifications needed either online, through trade associations or at your local community college.

Double Career Change

This is the most challenging career change of all. A person doing a double career change is switching both a career and an industry.

An example of a double change would be an airline pilot quitting to pursue their dream of producing rock music. In that case, they are leaving both the aviation industry and a specific skill set (piloting) for a completely unrelated industry and career.

When considering a double career change, start preparing by getting any needed training or certifications first. Then you can get your foot in the door by taking an apprenticeship or part time job.

With a double change, it’s not uncommon to have to start out at the bottom as you are asking an employer to take a chance on someone without any experience or work history in the industry.

Entrepreneurial Career Change

Probably one of the most common career changes made by people in their 50’s is the entrepreneurial career change.

After 20 to 30 years of working for “Corporate America”, a lot of people become disillusioned with the monotony, politics and inefficiency of the corporate world. Many of us dream of having our own business and being our own boss.

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By this time in our life, we have saved some money and the financial pressures we had with young children have passed; so it’s a perfect time to spread our entrepreneurial wings.

Entrepreneurial career changes can be within the same industry and using your existing knowledge and contacts to start a similar business competing within the same industry. Or it can be completely unrelated to your former industry and based on personal interests, passions or hobbies.

A good example would be someone who played golf as a hobby starting an affiliate marketing website selling golf clubs. If you are considering an entrepreneurial career change, there are a lot of very good free resources available on the internet. Just be sure to do your homework.

Practical Tips on Making a Career Change at 50+

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and make a career switch in your 50’s. No matter what your reasons or what type of a career change you are embarking on, here are some helpful hints to make the transition easier:

1. Deal with the Fear

As stated earlier, any big life change comes with both fear and anxiety. Things never seem to go as smoothly as planned, you will always have bumps and roadblocks along the way. By recognizing this and even planning for it, you are less likely to let these issues derail your progress.

If you find yourself becoming discouraged by all of the stumbling blocks, there are always resources to help. Contacting a career coach is a good place to start, they can help you with an overall strategy for your career change as well as the interview and hiring process, resume writing / updating and more. Just Google “Career Coach” for your options.

I also recommend using the services of a professional counselor or therapist to help deal with the stress and anxiety of this major life event.

It’s always good to have an unbiased third party to help you work through the problems that inevitably arise.

2. Know Your “Why”

It’s important that you have a clear understanding of the “why” you are making this career change. Is it to have more free time, reduce stress, follow a passion or be your own boss?

Having a clear understanding of you personal “why” will influence every decision in this process. Knowing your “why” and keeping it in mind also serves as a motivator to help you reach your goals.

3. Be Realistic

Take an inventory of both your strengths and weaknesses. Are your organizational skills less than stellar? Then, becoming a wedding planner is probably not a good idea.

This is an area where having honest outside input can be really helpful. Most of us are not very good at accurately assessing our abilities. It’s a universal human trait to exaggerate our abilities while diminishing our weaknesses.

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Requesting honest feedback from friends and co-workers is a good place to start, but this is another area where a career coach can come in handy.

4. Consider an Ad-Vocation

Sometimes, making a career change all at once is just too big of a change. Issues like a severely reduced income, geography and lack of benefits can all be impediments to your career change. In those cases, you may want to start your new career as an ad-vocation.

An ad-vocation is a second or ad-on vocation in addition to your primary vocation. Things like a part-time job, consulting or even a side business can all be ad-vocations.

The benefit of having an ad-vocation is being able to build experience a reputation and contacts in the new field while maintaining all the benefits of your current job.

5. Update Your Skills

Whether it means acquiring new certifications or going back to school to get your cosmetology licence, having the right training is the foundation for a successful career change.

The great thing about changing careers now is that almost any training or certifications needed can be free or at very little cost online. Check with trade associations, industry websites and discussion groups for any requirements you may need.

Learn How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive.

6. Start Re-Branding Yourself Now

Use the internet and social media to change the way you present yourself online.

Changing your LinkedIn profile is a good way to show prospective employers that you are serious about a career change.

Joining Facebook groups, trade associations and discussion boards as well as attending conventions is a great way to start building a network while you learn.

Here’re some Personal Branding Basics You Need to Know for Career Success.

7. Overhaul Your Resume

Most of us have heard the advice to update our resume every six months, and most of us promptly ignore that advice and only update our resume when we need it.

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When making a career change, updating is not enough; this calls for a complete overhaul of your resume. Chances are that your current resume was designed around your old career which may or may not apply to your new goals.

Crafting a new resume emphasizing your strengths for the new position your looking for is key. There are many places that will help you craft a resume online and it is a service included with most career coaching services.

8. Know Your Timeline

There are a lot of factors when it comes to how long it will take to make the career change.

Industry and Functional career changes tend to be the easiest to do and therefore can be accomplished in the shortest period of time. While the Double Career Change and the Entrepreneurial Career Change both require more effort and thus time.

There are also personal factors involved in the time it will take to switch careers.

Generally speaking the more you are willing to be flexible with both compensation and geography, the shorter time it will take to make the switch.

Final Thoughts

Changing careers at anytime can be stressful, but for those of us who are 50 or above, it can seem to be an overwhelming task fraught with pitfalls and self doubt.

Prospective employers know the benefits that come with more mature employees. Things like a wealth of experience, a proven work history and deeper understanding of corporate culture are all things that older workers bring to the table.

And while the younger generation may possess better computer or technical skills than us, if you’re willing to learn, there are a ton of free or nearly free resources available to you.

Deciding on a career change at 50 is a great way to experience life on your own terms.

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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