HEALTHCARE EXPERTS SHARE THEIR BEST CAREER ADVICE
Before choosing a career in healthcare to pursue, learners should consider the many different elements that influence each prospective healthcare career. For example, different healthcare careers will require varying educational requirements, involve alternative avenues for advancement and come with unique lifestyle impacts. Identifying these factors before beginning a career is essential to determining whether the position will be a good fit. To this notion, speaking to professionals already employed in the field can be paramount, and listening to their career advice pivotal.
In terms of advice, one of the most important elements of a career in healthcare to inquire about is the learning and training development process. While some careers require a certificate or the completion of a training program, others involve obtaining an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree or doctoral degree (like those offered at nursing colleges or medical schools). Depending on the desired career path, learners can spend two years or less completing prerequisites, or they can expect to be in school for up to 12 years. Learners should consider how long they wish to spend pursuing their program’s requirements before committing to a career path.
“[My] school was difficult, yes. Having to understand an all-encompassing module was tough, but it pays off in every way possible,” said Ovi Cioloca, RVS, who was a Medical Sonographer at the highest volume vein clinic in the state of Georgia for seven years. “Nothing is too difficult if you put your mind to it.”
In addition to identifying academic program lengths, learners should also ask someone already working in their desired career about program difficulty. Depending on each program’s curriculum, the level of challenge presented to a learner will vary. The skills and knowledge a learner initially brings into the program will also impact the level of challenge they face. However, with hard work and dedication, no course or curriculum is impossible.
“The biggest challenge of [my] radiation therapy program probably would have had to be balancing doing homework, studying for exams and going to class while still attending clinic and completing clinical hours at my programs associated hospital,” Raymond Glenn Fragassi II, ARRT, a Radiation Therapist practicing in Somerset, New Jersey, said. “It’s not impossible, but it takes a hard work ethic with excellent time management skills.”
Once the post-secondary education program required for entry into a career in healthcare is completed, learners must next focus on searching for an open position. This step in the career acquisition process can be challenging as well, but there are ways to help accelerate the process.
“The best way to go about finding employment would be to network with [others] that you work with in your clinical setting during your educational program. Most of the time, they can be used as a gateway to other careers elsewhere or even a career at the hospital or clinic you completed your clinical hours at,” Fragassi said. “Outside of that, it’s like any other career search. By using LinkedIn, social media, careers search sites or recruitment agencies to find yourself a career opening.”
Using this advice, once a position is secured an employee must shift gears from aspiring to acquire all prerequisite academic credentials to ensuring that their personality is aligned with career requirements. For example, many careers in healthcare involve working directly with others, meaning that strong communication and interpersonal skills become extremely important. When interacting with patients, compassion, empathy and understanding are often characteristics leading to a professional’s career success.
“A team-oriented attitude and passion for the career will take you a long way in this career,” Liz Hughston, RVT, VTS, a practicing Vet Tech in California, said. “The ability to work with lots of different people, to work as a member of a team and to be constantly curious and committed to lifelong learning are excellent personality characteristics. Integrity, honesty and trustworthiness are important as well as a strong work ethic.”
While aligning personality traits with career requirements is essential, the demands of a position can be draining. Some careers do require work outside of the office, but for many people a clear separation of work and home life can help maintain a positive mental health state. Those who drown themselves in their work nonstop can go on to face burnout and potentially stop enjoying their work.
“In [my] career, one thing that is important to remember is that, when you’re on duty, you’re on duty. However, when you’re off duty, you are off and should focus on other elements of your life,” Daryle Blackstock, a Senior Physician Assistant practicing in New York City, said.
When day-to-day duties and responsibilities become second nature, ambitious employees should look to make a career advancement. Under some working conditions workers may need to wait until a promotion is available, but making a supervisor or manager aware of promotional aspirations can help lead to an offer when a role does open up. Under other circumstances, those hoping to increase their pay and responsibility can network with those in more superior roles or choose to independently open a practice or clinic.
“If a Speech-Language Pathologist wants to advance their career, becoming a manager or head of a district department, owning their practice and teaching (adjunct or at the professor level) are ways to advance,” Rebecca Ingram Rowe, M.A., CCC-SLP, a Speech Therapist who practices in North Carolina, said.
At the end of the day, the most important element of obtaining and maintaining a career in healthcare is to enjoy the work and remain passionate about the field of medicine. For those hoping to make a difference in patients’ lives and find reward in making a difference, a healthcare career can be an excellent choice. Across many healthcare professionals, experts with years of experience are a great resource for gaining insight into the elements that make up a particular position.
“[In my opinion,] a career as an Anesthesiologist is both highly demanding and very fulfilling,” Peter Wu, M.D., FASA, CHSE, CPPS, an Anesthesia Specialist practicing in the Washington D.C.-area, said. “Career satisfaction comes from working in a role that has patient safety and comfort as the primary objectives. The rewards are many including intellectual stimulation, high earning potential and, perhaps most important, spiritual satisfaction that you are helping others.”