In the United States, the health care industry employs millions of wage earners. Ten of the twenty fastest-growing occupations are related to medical careers. In addition, trillions of dollars are spent each year on health care, which accounts for a substantial portion of the nation's gross domestic product. Reduction of the health care expenditure has been the focus of recent health care reform. In the years to come, economic analysts forecast continued job growth in the area of medical careers.
Medical careers encompass more than hospitals, physicians, or nurses. Most are unaware of this fact, and an abundance of job opportunities exist under the umbrella of medical careers. Although a physician's career path requires substantive education, the majority of medical careers require less than four years of college-level education. Each type of medical career has advantages and disadvantages. Medical careers usually involve distinct schools that provide specialized training. Each has required course work and an educational degree requirement as well as individual certification requirements. Most medical careers have their own continuing education requirements in addition to career-specific associations and academic journals. Those involved in medical careers provide health maintenance, prevention of illness and disease, reduction of suffering, and ancillary support to health care professionals.
The majority of medical careers are held in high esteem. Those engaged in these careers are usually considered noble and selfless. Many people dream of a lucrative career in medicine. There are a multitude of medical careers, and each requires a particular skill set and type of personality. Are you suited to a career in medicine? Before deciding on pursuing a medical career, a person has to make a thorough personal assessment to ensure he or she has the qualities of an excellent medical professional.
Do you enjoy helping others? By far, most people pursuing a medical career cite an intrinsic need to help others. On a daily basis, your emotions will be taxed by caring for the sick, injured, and infirm. The patients and their families may be angry, frustrated, and frightened. You will find yourself assuming several roles-counselor, caregiver, confidant, mediator, friend-in addition to your role as a trained medical professional. It is indeed a balancing act that the right person finds enjoyable. On the other hand, not enjoying the assumption of these various roles can lead to a miserable professional existence.
Do you possess superior communication skills? A great command of the English language will serve most well in their pursuit of medical careers. On a day-to-day basis, you will be communicating with patients, families, and those in other medical careers. The communication will take on a variety of forms, such as phone calls, meetings, progress notes, letters, e-mails and perhaps even text messages. You will not only have to learn medical terminology but be able to translate that knowledge to laymen, depending on the professional setting. On the other hand, miscommunication can lead to adverse patient outcomes, culminating in costly and emotionally taxing malpractice proceedings.
Do you pay attention to detail? Many medical careers require that you do. Clues to a successful diagnosis can be uncovered through questions, observations, laboratory tests, and imaging studies. One should be able to incorporate these minute details to arrive at the bigger picture. In this line of work, details could mean the difference between life and death. On the other hand, inattention to detail can lead to misdiagnosis and adverse patient outcomes.
Do you have patience? The sick and injured, as well as their families, can at times be difficult. Hospitalizations and office visits can be prolonged, leading to fear, frustration, and anger. Patience on your part can allay all of these emotions. On the other hand, impatience can magnify all of these emotions and can make patient recovery or convalescence a tough road.
Do you have a strong interest in the sciences? After all, the basis of most medical careers is science. Most of these disciplines require years of education. You have to have a certain level of intellect and personal commitment to succeed. You will be studying an inordinate amount of hours. In addition, you will be spending untold hours at health care facilities-hospitals, doctor offices, nursing homes-honing your skills. It usually means becoming a lifelong learner, especially when it comes to the science behind your respective medical career.
As you can see, one has to make a detailed self-inventory before deciding to pursue a medical career. One would be well served, professionally and personally, by the above qualities. This inventory is intended to help you arrive at an answer to an important question: Is a medical career right for me? If you answered no to any of the above questions, you may be better suited to another career path. If you answered yes, you should derive great personal satisfaction as you embark on your journey.
There are many advantages to a medical career. Most medical professionals are attracted to their chosen careers based on these perceived advantages. Medical careers can provide high salaries (depending on chosen field), fulfillment from helping others, variety, flexibility in schedule (depending on chosen field), and job security.
Although most would not recommend choosing a discipline based solely on the size of a paycheck, it is a consideration. Most medical careers garner high salaries, depending on your chosen field. Physicians and specialists routinely command six-figure incomes. Other medical careers, such as nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants, physical therapists, medical billers, and hospital administrators, are handsomely compensated.
Most people in medical careers have strong desires to help others and derive great joy from their endeavors. It takes a genuinely caring, nurturing person to go about certain medical tasks on a daily basis. As a medical career professional, you will be exposed to great pain and suffering. But, there will also be times of great joy and triumph. It is this mix that is appealing to many in the medical professions.
Variety is a draw to many in the medical fields. Your workday can find you in a variety of environments, such as hospital, clinics, private practice, nursing homes, or home visits. You may provide services to diverse clients, from the newborn and healthy to the old and infirm. Many in medical careers will attest that no day is the same, and it is this variety they find exciting.
Flexibility in scheduling is another advantage of a medical career. Positions can be part time or full time, and sometimes job sharing is an option. It is not uncommon for nurses and those in other medical careers to work three twelve-hour shifts, which can leave the balance of their time for family, friends, and other outside pursuits. A physician can work as a nocturnist, hospitalist, or urgent care staff. All of these positions provide flexibility in scheduling and are common in medical careers.
Job security is another advantage of a medical career. Trained medical professionals are always in high demand. The demand for physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals is simply much higher than the supply. Ten of the twenty fastest-growing occupations are in medical careers. It is comforting to know that, despite ongoing advancements in medical care, there will always be demand for those in medical careers.
The above is just a short list of the advantages of undertaking a career in medicine. It is imperative to analyze the advantages of a particular medical career before embarking on your journey. The time it takes will serve you well for many years to come in your chosen profession.
Before pursuing one of the medical careers, you should take note of the possible disadvantages of the position you are considering. A medical career is not easy, although it can be very rewarding. Some disadvantages to consider are long hours, frustration, fast pace, stress, and the possibility of a low salary.
Most medical professionals work long hours. An enormous amount of time is spent studying to obtain an initial degree. There is also studying for certification exams and continuing medical education. Most people in medical careers are lifelong learners. There are internships, externships, and in some cases, residencies, which provide much-needed clinical training. There are on-call hours, and it's not unheard of for some to work thirty-six to forty-eight hours with little to no sleep. All of the above translate into long hours over a span of years to achieve the goal of becoming a health professional.
Frustration can also be a disadvantage to a medical career. While you are spending long hours in a noble pursuit, it may seem that patients or clients could care less. Despite your best efforts, a patient does not improve and eventually dies. You find may it hard to undertake outside pursuits due to time constraints. Your family, friends, or loved ones can get upset because they may not see you for days at a time. All of the above can be very frustrating, but you have to figure it out and press on.
The life of a medical professional runs at a fast pace. Sometimes, decisions have to be made in a span of seconds and can mean life or death for a patient. You may find yourself in several clinical settings during the course of a day-hospital rounds in the very early morning, followed by morning clinics, lunchtime rounds at the nursing home, afternoon clinics across town, and finally back across town for evening hospital rounds. All of this requires meticulous attention to time as patients are usually waiting for your time and attention.
Stress is a constant in medical careers. You likely will not get adequate sleep. Your diet may not be up to par. Your certification exam could be a few weeks away, and you don't feel prepared. The long hours, frustration, and fast pace usually translate into stressful times. You should be aware of increasing stress levels and take measures to combat this constant in the life of a medical professional.
You should be prepared for the possibility of a low salary, depending on the discipline you choose. Not all those in medical careers command six-figure salaries, nor do they begin with six-figure salaries. Physicians undertake a period of training called residency. During this time, their salaries pale in comparison to later years. This is also true of other medical career disciplines. Shrinking reimbursements are also eroding the salaries of those in medical careers.
The above are some considerations of the disadvantages of a medical career, and it is by no means an exhaustive list. Your particular set of disadvantages may vary depending on your chosen discipline. The universal is that you should take the time to consider disadvantages prior to committing yourself to one of the medical careers.
Last Updated: 04/18/2013
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