Factors to consider before choosing a career in healthcare

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Deciding whether or not a career in healthcare is right for you is a decision that should not be taken lightly. In choosing to practice a healthcare profession, you are in turn choosing a lifestyle that is inherent with such careers.

Before taking the healthcare route, spend some time considering the following factors:

  • Your motivations for pursuing a career in healthcare

Gap Medics student shadowing midwives on her hospital placement in Thailand. There are several reasons that are commonly given for taking the healthcare route, one being the obvious financial rewards of the profession along with the social prestige that comes with certain roles. While the latter are both clear benefits, it is risky to pursue a healthcare career with such reasons as your only motivation.

Your first and foremost motivation should be a strong desire to help others. All healthcare professions bring with them a certain, often high, level of stress and a great deal of commitment and hard work is required. You must be sure that you can remain motivated in your role.

 

A genuine interest in the wellbeing of others will enable you to see past the stress and demanding working hours giving you a highly rewarding and satisfying career. 

Another vitally important point to make here is that your desire to pursue a career in healthcare should be your own. It is great if your family and friends support your decision, but make sure it is just that – your decision!

 

  • Financial implications and level of commitment

Unfortunately there is no way to sugar coat the fact that studying and training for most healthcare professions is an expensive process. When considering a career in healthcare you cannot ignore the financial implications – how will you pay for your tuition? This is something you must plan for when considering applying to study for a healthcare profession. Will you take out student tuition loans? How will you fund your living costs? Will you work whilst studying?

As well as being financially demanding, a healthcare degree requires a huge amount of dedication and hard work. Having assessed your motivations for pursuing a career in healthcare, do you have the determination and commitment required to see your degree course through to the end?

 

  • The continual educational requirements of a career in healthcare 

When working as a healthcare professional, the educational requirements do not end once you have completed your degree course. A culture of life-long learning is inherent in healthcare roles. Having an outstanding ability to learn and retain large amounts of information is essential. When considering a career in healthcare you must ask yourself if you are prepared to keep up with the continual developments in your field. Education will go hand in hand with your professional development for the duration of your career so a passion for learning will stand you in good stead.

 

  • Your personal strengths and skills

Gap Medics students during their hospital placement Communication and teamwork are integral in any given healthcare environment. You will have face-to-face contact with patients on a regular basis as well as fellow healthcare professionals. Should your patient require the expertise of a different medical professional, you must work together to provide the highest level of patient care. Effective communication skills are essential in achieving this.

You must be able to adapt your communication skills accordingly, showing understanding and empathy towards patients while dealing professionally with colleagues.

 

You should also consider your work ethic and ability to work well under stress and keep a clear head in difficult situations. Your patients will put their trust in you and rely on your expertise at a time when they are most vulnerable. You will have to deal with hectic daily schedules and demonstrate an ability to organise yourself appropriately.

 

  • Impact on family and personal life

In pursuing a career in this field, you must accept the daily realities of your profession. This could mean working irregular shift patterns that could include nightshifts or weekends. Before beginning to study for your healthcare career you should consider what you would like your lifestyle to be like in ten years time and compare that with the realities of healthcare professions. Would you be willing to work long hours?  How would you feel about relocating for a job? These are all factors that you should consider before you invest your time and money in any healthcare qualifications. 

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