A Guide to Building a Career in Healthcare

Leading a healthy and active lifestyle is one of the most critical factors for any individual; seeking a career which assists good health will always be a respectable career choice, and a very rewarding one, too.

Not only that, but a career in healthcare is a dependable choice, as this industry continues to grow, develop and offer new employment positions with varying degrees of decent pay grades.

So if you’re looking for a financially secure and stable job, along with one which allows you to help others and reap the rewards, then a career in healthcare is certainly the way to go.

However, due to the responsibilities on your shoulders and the amount of in-depth knowledge needed for the healthcare industry (particularly with high-end medical positions such as surgeons or doctors), it can be challenging to get into if you aren’t prepared. It will take years of practice and study, as well as a clear and focused goal of what you hope to achieve.

When building a career in healthcare, the work you do before you make any active steps towards gaining your position is just as important as everything you do while training for that position.

Failing to do your research regarding the role you’re hoping to go into means you may end up spending years of your life training and qualifying for a position which turns out to be nothing like you expected it to be. In healthcare, the demands and responsibilities are so intense that you need to be thoroughly sure on the position you are aiming for before you make any huge leaps towards it.

There is nothing wrong with seeking a change of career within the healthcare industry once you have qualified and have those transferable skills and medical knowledge, but if you’re looking for your perfect job, then you may as well endeavor to get it right from the first step.

Choose the Area of Health Which Works for You

Healthcare isn’t just treating patients in a hospital. It is a complex subject and comes in many forms and opportunities. Further developments in the medical industry mean more positions are open now to medical graduates than there used to be, such as a more significant focus on mental health, for instance.

Your available areas for a career in health include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Consulting positions
  • Clinic or hospital work as a doctor
  • Surgery
  • Nutrition
  • Fitness
  • Physical therapy
  • Mental health
  • Dentistry
  • Plastic surgery
  • Holistic remedies
  • Massage specialist

Some areas may be able to be combined to bring the best career situation for you; for example, you could qualify as a nutritionist but also work as a fitness coach, to provide an all-round experience in good lifestyle health. It all depends on what you would like to specialize in, and which niche works best for you.

Once you have identified the perfect area for your wants and needs, you can undertake the relevant steps and research to reach that healthcare goal.

Choose the Right Position for You

There is, of course, an overwhelming amount of medical and healthcare positions to choose from, and a lot of them you may not even know about. Due to specializations and medical areas being very specific, a wealth of subcategories of certain medical positions exist, especially within a mainstream medical environment such as a hospital. Outside of the clinic and hospital environment, the specializations become less broad, such as in the area of nutrition and mental health.

Just some of the most popular and rewarding healthcare positions include:

  • Physician or surgeon – These positions are the top earners in the world of healthcare, and that’s because of the responsibility and knowledge required of these professions. The life of a patient is literally in your hands when you qualify as a surgeon. Physicians also work on a consulting basis and will prescribe treatment and medication.
  • Nurse Practitioner – This position allows an entirely holistic approach to patient care, with focus on primary medical care of patients and those needing assistance, particularly within a home and family environment. There is plenty of opportunity for growth within this position, such as undertaking a family nurse practitioner online program and reaching the next step in development.
  • Dentist – This position allows you to treat patients with a complete focus on oral health and hygiene. It also allows you to help patients by encouraging a healthy lifestyle through better eating habits which may affect their teeth and gums.
  • Physical Therapist – This area of healthcare focuses on the recovery of patients rather than the initial treatment of any ailment. Physical therapists work to improve the mobility of injured patients and help them to manage pain in order to return to their everyday lifestyle.
  • Counselor – Specializing as a counselor or mental health therapist means you will help patients overcome mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. This career choice focuses on the health of the mind rather than the body and offers the opportunity to work with struggling individuals and help them overcome obstacles on an emotional level.

This list is by no means extensive, but it factors in a lot of the main areas of health which you can go into. In the first instance, you should identify whether it is active treatment for the body, support for the mind, recovery support or a specific area such as dentistry which only deals with one part of the body, which you wish to go into.

Match Potential Healthcare Jobs with Your Best Skillset

Aside from the relevant qualifications and training you will be required to undertake to fulfill a healthcare position, you may feel as though you have a strong aptitude for a particular skill which you may think is unrelated to the field. Many positive skills can still be applied successfully to particular careers in healthcare, however.

Many areas of healthcare have need of other skills too, especially in the areas of finance and business. Perhaps you’re looking for a career in health which isn’t on the frontlines of treatment but is instead a more clerical or office-based position. If you have a talent for numbers, perhaps a financial field of healthcare would be particularly suitable for you.

There are many available positions within the healthcare industry, which means any dedicated experience and skill you’ve already gained, whether that’s a natural flair or experience gained from an alternative career, is more than likely going to be needed in any new position within healthcare.

Build Up Your Voluntary Work Experience

It will always be beneficial to have experience of voluntary work under your belt, not only for your professional resume but also for your personal development, too. This is particularly important if you would like to get a feel for a specific career option before you commit.

For example, you could undertake voluntary experience in a hospital environment or dentist’s office to see the daily workings of that type of industry and see whether you feel as though it would be best suited for you.

Not all medical professions will offer voluntary experience, however. For example, you will not be able to sit in on an active counseling session with a mental health patient, but for the majority of areas, you will be able to find a suitable position.

Even if voluntary work feels unrelated, it can still help. If your work experience helps you to develop your people skills and build your compassion, this is completely transferable to any healthcare position.

It will also have a positive effect for your resume, and when it comes to applying for positions and undertaking interviews, it shows willingness to get involved in the industry you’re working towards, and also gives you experience where you may not have had any before.

Build Your Education

With any health-related position, education is paramount – but of course, the educational requirements will vary from position to position. You will not need the same level of education to become a surgeon as you would to become a nutritionist, for example.

The correct knowledge and education related to your field is imperative, however. This is why research is so crucial in the first stages of developing your career plans, in order to match the educational requirements to the job in mind.

If you are already educated, there are other options for developing new qualifications and degrees. High-end healthcare positions will require medical school attendance, for instance, or residency, whereas other positions may only require a degree – which you may or may not already have.

If the latter, there are many options available to you, such as attending university if you are of the right age, or online degree courses which you can work around other commitments later in life.

Don’t Neglect Your Networking

No matter the business, industry, or position, networking will always be a boon – but particularly so when it comes to a career in healthcare. There will be an abundant amount of medical professional groups, in-person and online, which tailor for individuals looking for a job in healthcare.

There may be forums and websites which help you to get in touch with individuals going on the same journey, or perhaps people who have already made it.

Networking can be predominantly crucial if you’re building a self-employed healthcare position, such as a fitness business or as an independent nutritionist. Networking will allow you to build your brand better and have access to valuable contacts who may be able to offer advice and help you grow your business – not to mention growing your online presence.

It’s also a good idea to reach out or stay in touch with fellow classmates during your educational years, particularly within medical school or during study for a healthcare degree, as those individuals may become valuable contacts later in life if they can recommend you for certain positions and act as a personal reference for your skills.

Consider a Position Which Has Room to Grow

If your definition of building a career in health is always to be aiming for a higher position with room to grow, then you’ll want to select a category and position which tailors for that. If your preferred working circumstance is the endless opportunity for a raise and promotion, and the chance to rise to the very top of your field for personal reward as well as passion for the job, then you should choose a position which tailors for that.

There is no point becoming a nutritionist, for example (even if you would love the work!), if ultimately you’re going to feel at a loose end if there is nowhere further to rise to.

You should research those specific positions which allow room to grow. This will most predictably be found in hospital and clinic environments, with positions such as doctors or surgeons who can constantly develop their skills and specialize in a certain area of the body, for example.

If that is not your idea of the perfect career choice for you, then identify the field and the best opportunity within that field where there is some wiggle room in terms of development and promotion.

Where development and growth are, of course, key, you also need to be sure that the position is right for you. You shouldn’t choose a healthcare position which you may come to resent, simply because it offers promotions and a high paycheck.

To Conclude

Building the perfect career in healthcare which works for you comes as a result of significant preparation and research. The majority of medical and healthcare positions requires years of additional study and training on top of a base degree, which means you need to be sure on the position you’re studying for in order to make the most of valuable years of your life.

A career in health can be built at any stage in your life at any age, with the right level of commitment and dedication. You should initially match your best qualities and skills with the position suited for them, then research everything you need to do in order to fulfill the perfect position – and go make it happen!

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