The medical and healthcare industry is one of the most challenging and diverse industries available. A career within healthcare can require great resilience and compassion but is also rewarding. Many people now consider a career in healthcare at a variety of ages. It is no longer the case that everyone goes straight from school to college or into vocational training. Many new entrants to the medical and healthcare professions have diverse life experiences. Whatever your background and education, there will be a route into health care that suits you. If you think that this might be the industry you want to work in, ensure you’ve asked yourself these important questions.

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What Training Do I Need?

The level at which you want to work in the healthcare industry determines what level of training and education you’ll need. It’s important to learn early on what will be required to begin your dream job. There may even be a preparation stage before you can officially start training, such as an exam or interview. The subjects that you took at school may be appropriate such as the sciences, psychology, or sport. But even if they are arts-based subjects, they may help demonstrate your academic ability and commitment to study. If you need to retake certain exams or qualifications, don’t despair. It can be tempting to feel like this is going backwards. But in reality, you are only going “backwards” in order to take positive steps forwards. Stay focused and upbeat and do everything necessary to get the grade.

Consult reliable online sources that detail the requirements for particular jobs. Some courses or roles require that you have hands-on experience, for example. An internship may be appropriate or finding another healthcare professional that you can shadow for a few days or weeks. Get creative. Are there any programmes or initiatives that you can volunteer for? There are many ways to get involved with medical provision both at home and abroad, even if you only volunteer on the admin side of things. Investigate what is needed to embark on your career, and then take positive steps towards it.

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What Are My Personal Strengths And Weaknesses?

Healthcare roles demand a lot of person both physically, psychologically and professionally. Physically, you are likely to be on your feet for many long hours. Shifts are often demanding and dynamic, and require you to be on the move. Psychologically, healthcare can require both compassion and resilience. You will be helping people through potentially very difficult and painful stages of their lives. You will need to be able to respond with a certain professional objectivity while still maintaining empathy and kindness. Professionally, healthcare workers are privy to a lot of sensitive confidential information. It is vital that you would take your role seriously. This would include staying calm and professional under pressure, and not retaliating even in the face of abuse. No-one has to stand for abuse and it should always be reported. But in a medical situation, people are under extreme stress and pressure and should never be harmed by those here to help them. Think carefully about which personal strengths and qualities will help you in a healthcare role. It can also be helpful to think about personal traits that you could work on and improve. You may be asked about these at interview. Well-considered answers show good self-awareness and honesty.

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Am I Informed and Up To Date?

The healthcare industry is dependent on scientific research. As a result, it changes on almost a daily basis. Not only do healthcare workers have to be adaptable and quick learners, they must also do their own research. Obviously, this doesn’t take place in a lab. But it does require self-motivation to keep up-to-date with medical issues and policy. Before even embarking on a career in health, we should do some research about the issues the industry faces. We should see Poseida and other innovative programmes if we are interested in gene therapy, for example. We should research charities like Médecins Sans Frontières and The Red Cross if we are interested in emergency medicine. Addressing gaps in our knowledge will make us stronger at interview. It will also get us into the good habit of being inquisitive and well-informed. If we find the issues fascinating, it may also help to confirm that healthcare is the career for us.

We should also apply this principle to checking that our own understanding of qualifications, background checks and so on are up to date. There may be aspects of our qualifications that need to be renewed or verified again if a lot of time has passed. We shouldn’t be discouraged by this. We should consider each step part of our effort to prepare for our career. We should start preparing for our challenging role right away by trying to see all challenges as a positive experience.

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Who Can I Talk To?

It can be overwhelming to begin considering a career on your own. With research, exams to undertake, and complicated application procedures we can quickly feel isolated. Think carefully about who you can talk to. Family and friends can be supportive and knowledgeable. They may even be able to give us examples from our past when we have demonstrated good personal qualities or achievements, for example. We should also consider approaching a professional careers service. They offer up-to-date advice on how to enter a profession and the ways in which we should prepare. They can also advise on our qualifications, and may even think we are qualified for a role we haven’t even considered. Careers services are also a great networking step. They can put us in touch with companies or individuals who we may be able to intern with or at least get further information from. It is a good professional ice breaker to mention that a careers service advised you to get in touch. Keep an open mind, clear goals, and a positive attitude. Your dream career in the healthcare profession is sure to follow.