Beginning a career in the health field will provide many opportunities for you to succeed. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the healthcare industry is expected to one of the fastest growing industries over the next decade, creating 28% of all new jobs in the U.S. economy with a growth rate of 33%, the equivalent of 5.7 million new jobs.
This growth surge is being fueled by an increasing demand due to the life expectancy of an aging population living longer. While the outlook of the healthcare industry is positive, there are still questions that you need to ask yourself to ensure that you make the correct career choice.
Do you have what it takes to develop and maintain the skills?
The healthcare industry might appear to be glamorous in terms of potential earnings and status, but it requires extensive “life-long learning” to stay abreast of complex rules and regulations. In addition, the learning curve can be steep depending on your chosen specialty. Be cognizant of the fact that you’ll be required to “burn the midnight oil” often to remain a highly qualified healthcare professional. This includes frequently attending workshops, professional development seminars and maintaining certification in your chosen field. If these requirements are too taxing, then the healthcare industry might not be for you.
Do you work well under pressure or in stressful situations?
The healthcare industry is one of the most volatile industries there is simply because you’re in the business of providing care to people in need, sometimes in life or death situations. Carrying the responsibility for a person’s wellbeing, and perhaps juggling multiple patients at once, where time is a critical factor, can generate enormous stress for the healthcare professional. Can you remain levelheaded and resilient with the ability to find the correct solutions based on your knowledge and experience? If you have the ability to identify your stressors and manage them on an on-going basis, then you’ve chosen the right field.
Are you willing to work long and irregular hours?
Most healthcare careers are a vocation in which the patient always comes first. In many healthcare jobs, especially those in a hospital or specialist setting (e.g. an outpatient Dialysis Unit, you will be expected to accept shift work, and to work overtime and most holidays. If you prefer regular office-type hours then this is not an industry for you.
Are you a people person?
This is an obvious question but it’s still an integral part of a job in healthcare since you’re providing a “service” to people who oftentimes have medical problems and need solutions. Are you caring and nurturing by nature? Can you be an advocate for your patients and maintain a patient and empathic attitude in front of them and their loved ones? Provide an honest self-assessment of yourself in regards to this question. A great tool to aid you in the process is iseek, a career website which allows you to take online career assessments.
Obtaining a career in the healthcare industry can be rewarding. While there is prestige that often comes with working in this field, it is important for you to be confident in your ability and remember the patients that you will serve on a daily basis. You will be a memorable force in meeting their unique needs.