So, you’ve decided that a career in healthcare is for you. That’s a brilliant start for your career, given that it hones your decisions from this point forwards and gives you a sense of purpose and drive. It’s also a brilliant decision for your job satisfaction in the future, as many medical professionals from across the industry report deep meaningful feelings and a sense of fulfillment in their roles. But there’s a lot still to learn, which is where this guide steps in. Below is all the information you might need to get started on your career in the field of healthcare.
Refining Your Career
Careers in healthcare are necessarily broad. As well as all of the workers who you see when you visit a hospital, there are also many thousands of workers who support all that happens in healthcare facilities – from HR managers to PR professionals. As such, it can help to first consider how you’d like to enter the industry, and what specific skills you might be required to evidence when you eventually come to apply for your first role in the sector.
It’s encouraging that healthcare is so broad, as you can truly pick from a wide variety of roles. If you’re more of a managerial personality, getting hands-on with systems and processes might be for you. If you love organizing a budget, you should look to the finance departments. If you have a creative flair, the marketing department might be your best bet and if you like to provide care, a career on the front as a nurse may be more up your street. We’ll not go into any great detail about these different roles. There are too many of them to list, and you will likely have your mind already set on one. Instead, we’ll look at the stages you ought to pass through in order to build your career in the healthcare space.
Part of your initial research into life in the healthcare field should be focused on what you might want to do in the sector. Another element of your research, and perhaps the most important, should be looking into the general lifestyles and career paths of each role that you’re interested in. Some roles are famously stressful and demanding, like those of doctors and nurses who are often asked to work overtime and who are often faced with tragic or traumatic injuries and illnesses. Other roles give you a great deal of flexibility, including the option to work from home.
It’s unlikely that you’ll discover something about the industry that turns you away from it, but in the course of this research you might find out that there are slightly better roles that are more aligned with your interests, habits, lifestyle, and ambitions. That’s why all job searches should start with some research and should even go as far as talking directly with people in the industry who can tell you a little more about how they organize their lives around their work.
Many young people are attracted to the world of healthcare from the time they spend in school. They’re motivated to join the industry for a variety of reasons, and their parents support them in their early ambitions. The point here is that any career in healthcare should be underpinned by good grades at school because without them you may not be accepted onto university courses and you may therefore fail to meet the eligibility requirements for some of the most interesting roles in the industry.
Good grades aren’t just numbers either; they’re evidence of the learning that you’ve been a part of when you’re young. You’ll onboard more knowledge when you work hard in school, which will have a direct impact on your career later in life. Good grades also reflect well on your determination and diligence, which is something that is especially important across a variety of healthcare roles. As such, if you’re still at school you should be careful to study hard, revise for your exams, and attain the best grades possible.
It’s well known that doctors and nurses will have to head to university or college in order to even work in a hospital. They cannot be accredited to work on the ward without this training, which can take up to ten years for doctors. While the university isn’t necessary for a wide range of alternative roles, such as that of manager, logistics expert, or PR professional, it’s certainly valuable to get some training in the domain that you’re interested in working in. When it comes to job applications down the line, showing that you have the requisite training and qualifications will impress those who are reading your resume and cover letter.
Then there are those roles that won’t see you working with patients directly but still require you to be on the ball when it comes to medicine. To take one example, if you’re ambition is to work as a health data administrator, you’ll need to know about data administration in the healthcare context. That’s the sort of knowledge that you can only gain from specific courses, some of which are offered by universities online. Try accredited online MHA programs, for instance, to earn a full degree that shows you’re ready to work with sensitive patient data in the environment of a healthcare facility.
Your passion for healthcare will only grow as you study different aspects of the field – from whichever perspective is most useful for your own career choices. Nevertheless, studying at university is only one of the ways in which you can onboard the information that’s necessary to make a truly excellent and well-informed professional in the healthcare space. Alongside these studies, you should try hard to find readings, PDFs, reports, journals, magazines, blogs, forums, and other resources online that are relevant to healthcare and your role within it.
There are two resources you should be especially on the lookout for. One type will contain case studies that are directly relevant to what you hope to do in the healthcare industry. These case studies will help you to understand the challenges in the sector and how people have attempted to solve them in the past. Another important resource is the individual testimony of healthcare workers. They’re your best portal into an industry that you’re working to enter and feel comfortable in, and their reports from their roles will give you an idea of what you’re working towards.
It doesn’t matter what role you’re seeking to secure in whatever industry, having professional contacts will help make your ascension into a job role smoother and your entry into the industry of your choice more informed and graceful. As such, you should always be looking for ways in which you can increase the size of your contact book, add people to your social media profiles, and establish and maintain relationships with professionals you believe will be important for your personal development as well as for your career ambitions down the line and into the future.
You’ll make connections throughout your life in a variety of odd and interesting ways. You might come across a doctor on a vacation, who you’ll add to your network and turn to when you have a question for a frontline health worker. You might attend a careers workshop and meet like-minded people who are also interested in working in healthcare. Your lecturers and tutors at university are excellent professional contacts, as are the people you’ll meet in internships that you take to gain industry experience. You might not capitalize on these relationships right away, but over time they can really help you thrive in healthcare.
Foot in the Door
Let’s say that you have a relevant degree under your belt and you’re ready to start your career: what should you do next? It’s clear that you should focus heavily on applying for the kinds of jobs that you’ve been training and learning for. You’ll find them advertised on the websites of some of the larger healthcare institutions in the US, as well as on major job boards and job websites that cater specifically to workers in the field of healthcare. Make sure you’re keeping an eye on these job posts so that you never miss an ideal opportunity for your career.
If you’re having little luck with these applications, it’s important that you find another way to get your foot into the door of the industry. One way to do this is via an agency that places temporary workers into healthcare roles. These might not be the most glamorous roles out there, but they’ll help you gain some experience and build some extra contacts. If you impress in these roles, you might even be hired onto the full-time staff. Meanwhile, you may also find that gaining work experience in a healthcare-adjacent field is a good idea, and it’s certainly worth earning a little cash rather than remaining idle and waiting for one of your other job applications to lead to an interview.
After some time applying for jobs, you’ll be invited to an interview. This is often the final and decisive stage of our application, so it’s important that you do all you can to make a good impression. Interview tips are common online, but the main ones are to remain calm, to do your research, and simply be honest about all you could bring to the role. Make yourself seem natural and passionate about the job that you’ve applied for, and don’t be afraid to ask questions of the person interviewing you.
Make sure you look smart when you attend your job interview, and that you’ve groomed yourself so that you look smart, professional, and presentable. While it’s wrong to judge a book by its cover, people often do – especially in the short timescale of an interview. Successful interviews are often those over which you impress on your interviewer that you’d be a good fit for their team. In that sense, do try to build a connection with your interviewer, as that’ll help you come across as someone who will fit in perfectly with their organization.
Impressing in the Job
Getting your first proper job in healthcare is cause for much celebration. After what might have amounted to many years of trying, you’ve finally reached a major milestone. It also happens to be the first rung in your career. The number of rungs you climb from that point will be determined by how hard you work and the level at which your managers are impressed by your work ethic and your approach. It should go without saying, then, that the more effort you put into building a good reputation in your first job, the more likely you’ll be to find yourself promoted.
You might have little ambition to climb all the way up the hierarchy in your area of healthcare, but that doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t enjoy the higher-level, more challenging tasks that managers and senior workers perform. You should strive to get to the position at which you’re working on these most interesting tasks. You’ll get there by asking for on-the-job training and by learning wherever you can on the job. Finally, you should seek to take on more and more responsibilities while you’re at work to impress senior managers and show them you’re capable of rising up to the next level in your career.
All of these tips are arranged to help ambitious individuals find themselves in a career in healthcare. The field itself is of course incredibly diverse, employing hundreds of thousands of people who come from all walks of life and bring different perspectives to the table.
It can take time to realize your hopes of working in healthcare. You’ll need to train, learn, and connect with people in the sector. You’ll need to perform well in interviews and hit the ground running in your job. But if you cover all of the basics outlined above, you’ll be well-placed to build your career in healthcare, beginning today.