Many people dream of a career in medicine. The work is often stressful and requires personal sacrifice. However, few careers bring the immense satisfaction of healing others. If you feel compelled to care for the sick and infirm, medicine may be your purpose. With hard work and an open heart, a medical career allows you to change lives for the better.
Consider Your Interests
What aspects of medicine intrigue you most? Think about your innate strengths, passions, and personality traits. For example, if you love solving puzzles, radiology may be a good option. If you thrive under pressure, the fast pace of emergency medicine may suit you. Make a list of what appeals to you to narrow your focus, and check out CompHealth to learn about other possible careers you may have overlooked in this field.
Job shadowing gives you on-the-ground experience to see different medical roles in action. Reach out to family, friends, or alumni networks to find doctors or other providers who may let you observe them for a day. Come prepared with questions to gain insights about their typical responsibilities, challenges, lifestyle, and career path. Determine which settings and specialties seem most rewarding.
Understand the Education Required
The training required depends heavily on which field you choose. Some careers like nursing or dental hygiene may only require an associate’s degree, while others like becoming a doctor or surgeon require many additional years of school. Know the time commitments and costs of the programs that interest you. Also research scholarships, loan forgiveness programs, and other ways to make education more affordable.
Think About Your Personality
Your innate temperament may make you better suited for certain health careers than others. If you love meticulous hands-on work, surgery or dentistry could be a good fit. Those who thrive under pressure may enjoy the fast-paced emergency department. If you are introspective and love solving mysteries, radiology may be rewarding. Think about whether you prefer predictable routines or frequent changes, working alone or with teams, with data, or directly with patients. Your personality type will help steer you.
Consider Work-Life Balance
Some medical careers like surgery require long, irregular hours, whereas others like pathologists work more regular nine-to-five schedules. If work-life balance is important, weigh options like radiology and dermatology which offer more flexibility. If you don’t mind irregular hours, critical care medicine or emergency medicine may be rewarding options. Think about your family plans and lifestyle desires when choosing a specialty.
Focus on Your Passion
At the end of the day, the most important factor is finding work you feel passionate about that brings you joy and excitement. Ignore notions about prestige or compensation. Focus on specialties that seem genuinely fulfilling based on your unique personality, values, and interests. Following your passion will lead to a meaningful career that unlocks your greatest potential.
Take Advantage of Networking
Connecting with people already working in your fields of interest can provide tremendous insight. Attend industry conferences and events to build your network. Join professional organizations for access to online forums, job boards, and mentoring opportunities. Reach out for informational interviews to gain additional advice from those doing the job you want. Tapping this first-hand knowledge from your network is invaluable for selecting the right career path.
Following your heart will lead to a career that excites you and helps you make your unique mark. With an open and curious mindset, you can discover the medical role where your talents and skills come together to enable you to thrive. The healthcare field offers so many ways to find your calling. Listen to your heart to unlock a future you love.