No matter the age of the person you ask, if you were to talk to a hundred people tomorrow and ask them to name a job that they think people would like to do, perhaps a majority would name something in the healthcare sector. For young children, doctors are among the first people they meet in a working context, and a good doctor makes a great impression. As you get older, medicine also comes across as a job that pays well, especially for consultants. When you’re older still, and value stability above almost anything else, you can look at healthcare and be confident that there will always be jobs available in the sector.
If you’re considering a future in the healthcare field, then, there are plenty of reasons to feel positively about it – and in a great many ways, it is as rewarding as jobs get. You should, however, also be ready for a lot of challenges that come with working in healthcare. It’s certainly not all going to be adoring patients thanking you for making them feel better – and if you want to make a success of a healthcare career, the essential qualities you will need to have are as follows…
Empathy, stability and patience
All doctors have their favourite patients – the ones they are happy to see on their rounds every day because the patient is particularly brave, or deals with their situation with good humour. This is the conundrum for any doctor, or nurse – these patients are a ray of sunshine in what can be a gloomy day of work, but at the same time, you want them to get better and not need your help anymore. Waving them off when they recover and can leave may be bittersweet; and in the circumstance where you can’t do anything more for them, it’s even tougher.
Equally, there will be those patients who are less engaging to deal with; some can be grumpy, short-tempered, sarcastic or belittling. It’s hardly surprising – being stuck in hospital is not fun for anyone, and the uncertainty that comes with being ill does little to engender good humour. If you are a doctor or a nurse, however, you’ll need to provide the same standard of care and the same positive attitude with the patients you do and don’t enjoy spending time with. It can be tricky, but think about how difficult things are for them right now. Without becoming completely hardened, you need to be ready for your emotions to not matter in the workplace.
Excellent communication skills
There is no job on earth where the importance of being understood, and able to understand, is greater than in medicine. You will need to be able to communicate effectively with co-workers and patients alike, taking in and passing on information in a timely fashion, and sometimes in the middle of circumstances that can be stressful and distracting. This is a workplace in which sometimes there isn’t time to ask twice, or ask nicely. A few moments can, literally, be the difference between life and death.
When dealing with patients, it is essential to understand what they are telling you (and in some cases, what they are not), and equally essential that you make yourself heard when speaking to them. You may need to communicate a pessimistic prognosis, and deliver it to patients, families, or both. Some of the questions you receive will be hard to answer, and some of the answers you give will be hard to deliver – but the people listening out for them are relying on you to tell them the truth.
The best doctors never stop learning, and always seek out new information. Having an inquiring mind is essential. Few people first visit a doctor with obvious symptoms of something quite severe – and it would be neither affordable nor desirable to run tests for everything whenever you receive a patient – but you need to treat every patient contact as a chance to get closer to a diagnosis and/or a successful treatment. That begins with never closing off any avenue of query until you have the right information.
Building the necessary skill set to be this kind of medical professional doesn’t happen automatically, or overnight. It comes with experience and readiness to upskill. Attending the likes of University of California-Riverside for a Masters of Public Health degree will help you find out more about the social, environmental and other aspects that can affect someone’s health. The more you know about a patient, the more effectively they can be treated – and even a seemingly idle query can end up offering the information that helps make someone better.
If someone asks their gardener whether a certain technique will work to rejuvenate their rosebushes, they’ll probably accept an answer such as “Hopefully”. Similarly, if you take your laptop to be fixed, you’ll understand if the technician is equivocal about the chances of the fix actually holding. But imagine for a moment that you asked a doctor if a course of treatment was the right one. How would you react if they gave an answer that suggested they weren’t sure? Most likely, you’d be horrified – they’re dealing with people’s lives, after all.
Healthcare professionals need to make countless decisions on a daily basis, some of which they know will result in heartbreak for patients and families. They need to do this, and then be ready to make more decisions the next day – and if a doctor or nurse is plagued by doubts then they will not be a doctor for very long. It’s fine to not know something – because even the best doctors have cases that stump them from time to time – but it is essential to be confident that the decisions you are making are right. Without confidence, the split-second decisions that can save a life would never get made.
Healthcare is a rewarding profession, and it offers a lot of opportunities for career progression. If you’re good at it, it can also be a highly lucrative occupation – as it should be, because there is no job more important. No-one embarks on a medical career and expects it to be easy, of course. It’s the tips above, however, that you need to bear in mind – because while medicine may not end up being as glamorous as it’s sometimes portrayed, it’s one that needs people prepared to roll with the pitfalls and keep coming back with a positive attitude.
Featured Image : https://pixabay.com/photos/doctor-dentist-dental-clinic-1149149/