If you think of a career path that will allow you to help people and gain a huge sense of satisfaction, it’s highly likely that healthcare is what you’ll think of first. When you work in healthcare, you can actually make a difference in people’s lives and see that difference taking shape firsthand. Not only that, but since there is often a good salary structure and your job will be a stable one, you’ll feel confident about moving forward should you choose to while safe in the knowledge that your job is secure, no matter what department or area you choose to work in.
You will have your reasons for choosing to work in healthcare, and they will all be valid as long as they make sense to you and allow you to do the best job possible to help the people you are tasked with helping. The thing to remember, however, is that just saying you want to work in healthcare doesn’t mean a lot – it’s too vague. There are so many different healthcare career options, so you’ll need to spend a fair amount of time narrowing it all down unless you have a definite idea of what you want to do.
What you really need to avoid is thinking you want to do one thing and start – or even complete – studying for that, only to discover something else appeals more. Therefore, you must do all your research first so you know you’re making a good choice. With this in mind, read on for some ideas about what careers in healthcare are the most rewarding, and you might start to get some insight into the kinds of choices there are.
When most people think of a career in the healthcare sector, it’s either a doctor or a nurse who comes to mind first, so these are the two professions this article will start with – but don’t worry; if neither appeals, there are many more satisfying jobs to think about.
Doctors have many positive points concerning the work they do. They work directly with patients, investigating their health issues and coming up with a diagnosis and a treatment plan. You might almost think of doctors as medical detectives, working out the clues and conducting the right tests to come up with a solution and then dealing with that solution through medication, surgery, or therapy.
Although doctors spend time with their patients, that time is limited to the issue at hand, so if you’re not what might be termed a ‘people person,’ yet you do want to help people, putting in the hard work to become a doctor could be an ideal solution – and that’s the key thing to remember: it is hard work. With at least seven years of school, not to mention internships and additional qualifications for any career advancement, it takes a long time and a lot of effort to become a doctor.
Plus, at least for the first few years during and after graduation, your work-life balance as a doctor will be impossible to control. However, once you get past this, you’ll find that it’s the kind of career that actually offers a wide range of benefits, including flexibility and the fact that it’s hugely rewarding; you literally save lives every day.
As mentioned above, nurses are a big part of the healthcare sector, and they are often thought of when people start to consider a career in this area. This makes sense; nurses do a lot, and if you’ve ever been in a hospital or visited friends or family in one, it’s the nurses you would have seen most and who would have made the greatest impression. They’re the ones who would have spoken to you, been kind and caring, and helped as much as possible in any way they could.
Although, as with doctors, there is a lot of learning involved if you want to be a nurse. Nurses undertake many years of study, although not the same number as doctors; nurses usually study for between two and four years, depending on the course they are taking and what kind of nurse they are training to be – yet the benefit of becoming a nurse is that you get to spend a lot more time with your patients.
If you love being with people, talking, making them feel better, and generally taking care of them, nursing might be a better option than becoming a doctor. A nurse can speak to a patient about anything and everything as they bathe them, change dressings, give medication, support them physically and emotionally, monitor symptoms, and so on. On the other hand, a doctor will generally stick to the medical issue at hand. This is a huge difference between the roles, and if you’re torn, the distinction between a doctor and a nurse might be what helps you decide your path into the medical sector.
Although doctors and nurses must work together to create a cohesive, manageable treatment plan for each patient, it’s usually the nurse who will carry out that treatment plan or at least explain it in detail to the patient if they are to do it themselves at home. This kind and level of communication is a vital element of nursing, as getting this right is the difference between a fast recovery and a slow one, and of course, when you’re helping people, it’s the speedy recovery you are aiming for.
Ultimately, nurses are crucial in every healthcare setting. They are the ones who work together to keep a hospital or department going, and they are the ones with the most hands-on patient care. It’s a hugely responsible job, but one that offers so many rewards in terms of being able to help others, the salary, the benefits, and the positive working environment. Therefore, with so much to gain from being a nurse, it’s no wonder people turn to this profession when they want to work in healthcare.
What can you do if you want to work in healthcare because you are dedicated to helping people and feel this is the best sector to do that in, but you aren’t confident about having a patient-facing role? It might seem as though there is nothing you can do; you either work with patients, or you don’t work in healthcare. However, the truth is, this is not the case.
In fact, there are a number of roles within the healthcare sector that allow you to keep a distance from patients yet still help them as much as possible if that’s what you’re looking for. Equally, there are hybrid roles in which you might tackle patient care and administration. In any case, the choice is yours – and healthcare management, in particular, is what will give you this choice.
This important role in the medical sector is something that is absolutely crucial in terms of running a hospital, clinic, or department smoothly and effectively – although it might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to choosing a career in healthcare.
What’s truly wonderful about working in healthcare management is that you can come to it from any background; it’s more about having management experience than it is about having healthcare experience. If you want to change careers and move into an area that will suit you better, you can explore accredited online Executive MHA programs and make that move.
Alternatively, you can take the same degree if you are already working in healthcare, perhaps as a nurse, and you realize that administration management would be a better fit for you. In this case, you will have plenty of healthcare experience, and taking a course like the one above will give you the management knowledge and skills you need to move on with your career.
Healthcare management is vital to the healthcare sector. Although you will be backstage rather than in front of everyone (which is often what appeals), you will still make a huge difference. You will have to work with budgets, undertake general administration, be in charge of recruitment, and even manage work schedules and public relations, depending on the kind of healthcare facility you are working in. Without this kind of management behind the scenes of a medical setting, it would be chaos, and nothing would get done because no one would know what they were meant to do.
As mentioned before, there are dozens – if not more – iterations of working in healthcare. Even the doctors and nurses already on this list have many different branches you can follow, and the terms ‘doctor’ and ‘nurse’ are very broad ones.
But if the doctor and nurse route doesn’t interest you, another option, if you want to help people, is to become an occupational therapist. Occupational therapists are there to help patients after they have had a procedure or suffered some kind of injury or illness that has affected their mobility in particular. When you work in this area, you are tasked with helping people go back to how they were before the accident, incident, or illness as quickly as possible, assuming that is possible.
For example, a patient might have been in a wheelchair for a number of months as they waited for their legs to become strong again after an accident. It is thus your job to help strengthen their legs, and then, when the wheelchair is no longer necessary, it’s your duty to help the patient learn to walk again. Imagine the difference you can make in someone’s life when you take on this role – it’s immediate and incredibly rewarding. This is just one example; the list of what an occupational therapist can do is almost limitless.
The great thing about being an occupational therapist is that every day will be different, and yet there will be a structure to the role. Unlike nursing and being a doctor, you won’t be on-call, and you can schedule appointments flexibly. Yet you will see different people and be asked to do different things every day, giving you the best of both worlds.