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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 September 28, 2020

How to Change Careers Successfully When It Seems too Late

How to Change Careers Successfully When It Seems too Late

The wake-up call often comes when you least expect it. Maybe you’re enjoying a relaxing get-together with your old college buddies when someone turns to you and says, “Wow, I never thought you’d become an investment banker. I always thought you’d write a novel!” If this leaves you wondering how to change careers, you’re not alone.

Before you know it, you find yourself remembering your old dreams—and comparing them to the career field where you are now. Life rarely goes according to plan. Marriage, kids, and grandkids often come earlier than imagined—or later.

Maybe you pursued one career path because you were considered the breadwinner, but now someone else in the family is the breadwinner. Conversely, maybe you landed a job, thinking you’d stay for six months, and now you’ve been there for sixteen years.

A recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics pointed out that “baby boomers held an average of 12.3 jobs from ages 18 to 52″[1]. For millennials, who are more technologically apt, that number is likely to be much higher.

As this proves, it’s perfectly normal to change careers and begin a job search even when it seems too late! Steering your way through a career change is part calculation, part chance, and part leap-of-faith.

If you feel stuck and are ready for a career change, take these steps to guide you.

Step 1: Be Mentally Prepared

These points can help you master the psychological aspects of a career change at any age.

Now or Never Is a Fallacy

For most professionals, there is no cut-off age for striking out in a new direction. People do it at all stages of their careers.

If you’ve ever dreamed of leaving a large company to start your own business, you are not alone. Similarly, thousands of entrepreneurs and people working for one-man shops decide each year that they’d like to work for larger organizations.

You’ll find hordes of baby boomers looking for a redo alongside mobs of GenXers and Millennials—especially as the boomers now remain in the workforce longer than their predecessors.

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Your Career Is not a Straight Line From A to B

You don’t have to have your career trajectory completely decided from the start. In fact, that’s an unrealistic expectation, no matter how methodical you are.

People change. Industries merge, morph, and in some cases, disappear. Careers rarely follow the straight and narrow.

Many careers can be compared to journeys—there are the adventurous patches, boring patches, downright scary patches, and the hills and valleys, too. The trick is to try to have a little fun while you’re charting out your various careers.

Don’t panic if you find you need to change your career. It may take some work as you sort through job posts, write cover letters, and pursue your dream job, but you’re up for it.

Career Changers Are Among Good Company

Consider these well-known trailblazers whose careers took a radical turn:

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, studied computer science and electrical engineering at Princeton, went on to establish himself as a Wall Street prodigy, then quit to launch Amazon.com.

Sara Blakely, a billionaire businesswoman, was a fax machine salesperson before creating her signature slim wear line, Spanx.

Jonah Peretti, co-founder of the media sites Huffington Post and BuzzFeed, initially taught computer science to middle schoolers.

Be Ready to Take on the Naysayers

Expect plenty of advice—usually of the discouraging kind—from friends and family when they learn that you’re exploring a career change. Those you know best are often the most vocal in trying to thwart your plans.

Be prepared to field a flurry of pessimistic conjecture and doomsday scenarios. Know, though, that when your loved ones question your judgment, they’re not necessarily doubting your talent but trying to look out for your wellbeing. Stepping out of your comfort zone will make anyone close to you uncomfortable.

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Keep in mind that pessimists avoid the unknown, while optimists invite new challenges. Above all, believe in yourself and follow your instincts. Don’t let your fear of change paralyze you from seeking out your new career path.

Project an aura of enthusiasm, energy, and passion. You’ll find it’s contagious.

Step 2: Be Proactive

These tips can help you master the practical aspects of changing careers at any age.

Take Baby Steps

Ease into your new direction. Start building the skills you’ll need to make the switch.

Find out what skills you will need, and do whatever it takes to add them to your skills arsenal. Make the time to invest in additional training.

Start by devoting a half-day each week to your new pursuit until you’re ready to confidently make a move.

Clearly define where you want to go and what you’ll need to do to get there. Take an inventory of your strengths. Read trade magazines, and study up on industry trends.

Volunteer

Charitable organizations are often looking for volunteers to help them with their outreach, social media, and engagement. You can show up without the requisite skills and learn as you go in a fun, convivial, low-pressure environment, which will help you expand your experience and skills.

Take Online Courses

Today, LinkedIn and many other providers offer online courses in everything from accounting software to time management to mastering Excel. For extra credit, see if you can find classes that award online badges for completing each course.

Don’t be shy about adding these certificates to your online profile. Keep your profile fresh by adding more and more skills to it.

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Take a Temp Job

Depending on your field, it may be possible to freelance at a company where you learn on the job.

Remember that you can’t just show up at a potential employer’s claiming you have the skills. Taking a temporary job that allows you to polish your skills is proof that you’re serious about your career change.

Network!

Build a family tree of contacts. Explore beyond the main branches of your work acquaintances, industry groups, and social contacts. Join your alumni organization. Tell everyone.

Ask friends and friends-of-friends to meet you for coffee to explain what it is they do and tell you which skills you’ll need to succeed in your chosen field[2].

When you want to learn how to change careers, start by networking!

    If you have friends or associates with ties to the organizations where you want to work, ask your contacts to make an introduction. The majority of today’s jobs are found through one’s own networks. When jobs open up, companies invite informal recommendations from internal and external channels.

    Step 3: Take It Online

    This last step can help you master the online aspects of a career change at any age.

    Develop an Online Presence in the Field of Your Dreams

    Reconfiguring your online presence will be a critical step in your career change. Fine-tune your digital identity to reflect your new direction, tailoring your profile to the role and industry you’re after. Include keywords that are relevant to the industry so that recruiters can find you.

    Craft a clever personal statement that states your interests, your values, and your dreams. Once you’ve zeroed in on your message, also pick and choose which outlets make the most sense for it.

    Will your personal statement resonate on LinkedIn? Or is it highly visual—making it a better fit for Instagram?

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    Polish your sites until they gleam, then get active so others take notice. Add insightful content to your social media pages that goes deeper than the information on your resume, such as commentaries on something taking place in your newly chosen field.

    For more on how to build an online presence, check out this article.

    Final Thoughts

    Americans spend 1,800 hours or more each year working. That’s nearly one-third of your life, and it goes without saying that your job satisfaction and career goals have a great bearing on your life’s happiness barometer.

    Set out to intentionally pursue career satisfaction, looking for opportunities to fine-tune your working life so that you find fulfillment.

    If playing the piano is your personal bliss, could you meld your love of music with your clinical psychology background and find a job using music to promote healing? Perhaps there’s a foundation that would fund you in a multiyear study.

    Or, if you’re a movie buff for whom every encounter has the makings of a screenplay, why not sign up for an evening class and see if your years of writing advertising copy could morph into a career move into the film industry?

    Achieving your career change successfully will occur when you mentally prepare, take a proactive approach, and mine your personal and online networks. The pay-off will be in a life well-lived in a successful career.

    More Tips on How to Change Careers

    Featured photo credit: Jason Strull via unsplash.com

    Reference

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