Shadowing a DoctorFebruary 5, 2014
Even as you go about filling in and sending out applications to medical schools, it’s not surprising to be plagued by self-doubt about whether or not you are choosing the right career. Taking a few minutes to think about your own abilities, goals, hopes and needs can help you arrive at a more definite decision. Here are some useful questions to ask yourself before embarking on a career in healthcare.
Do you like dealing with people?
This is one of the first questions you need to ask yourself. Whether you choose to be a nurse, gynaecologist, paediatrician, or an occupational therapist, your job will involve dealing with patients on a one-to-one basis. Besides having the academic knowledge, having a warm and caring personality lies at the core of being a good healthcare professional.
Are you a team player?
Health care is increasingly becoming an interdisciplinary activity with different specialists working together towards a common goal. In such an environment, a patient’s recovery depends not only on each member’s proficiency but also on how well each of the members communicate and collaborate with one another. Even dentists, who usually work in a solo private practice, work closely with several staff members.
Are you prepared to put in the effort needed to stay up to date with developments in your field?
As a health care professional you should be committed to giving your patients the best care available. With huge strides being made in medicine and in healthcare in general, this means, you will have to continue studying and learning throughout your career in order to stay up to date with the latest developments in your field.
Can you cope with the complications associated with a health care setting?
Most health careers involve working extremely long hours, shouldering heavy responsibility, making snap decisions and having to cope with all kinds of emergencies. Some specialties involve spending much of your time in the company of sick, injured, disabled, or dying people. Are you comfortable handling blood, dealing with serious injuries and illnesses and all of the physical and emotional complications associated with these conditions? How do you feel about facing life-and-death situations on a daily basis?
There are of course other options if you would prefer a specialty that has less direct contact with patients. You could opt for one of several other health-related work settings such as research laboratories, pharmacies or medical libraries to name just a few.
What lifestyle do you dream about?
In terms of a clinical setting, you may work in a hospital, private practice office, long-term care facility, community health centre, mobile clinic or even a patient’s home. Each of these settings offers a different pay packet and varied work hours. Do any of these options appeal to you or do you envision a different type of workplace environment?
You need to be realistic with yourself when deciding whether or not to choose a career in healthcare. Most careers in this field involve a considerable investment in time and money and it is vital to make sure that you are making the right decision.