The American population is getting older, rapidly. In fact, by 2060, the number of people age 65 or older is expected to reach 100 million — double what it is today. Naturally, this phenomenon will have a significant impact on our health care systems, and medical professionals at all career levels and in every aspect of the industry will be in high demand.
Projections for growth in various medical careers are reflecting this future need. For example, the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that between now and 2026, the number of Licensed Practical/Licensed Vocational Nurses and Medical Assistants will grow by 12 and 29 percent, respectively. But how do you know if you’re cut out to work in this demanding field? Before you decide to pursue an Associate’s Degree in nursing or enroll in a Medical Assistant Diploma Program in New Jersey, consider what it really takes to excel in — and enjoy — a career in the medical field.
You truly want to help people
Sure, health care professions consistently dominate the “top-paying jobs” lists. However, the prospect of making lots of money shouldn’t be your only reason to become a nurse, doctor, cancer center care specialist, or any of the other many medical occupations. The opportunity to help people, and potentially to have a hand in healing them, is a driving force for most who enter this field, whether they aspire to become surgeons, medical office managers, or paramedics.
Caring for others — especially people you don’t know — requires compassion and a dash of empathy. Plus, the simple fact that most people you’ll encounter as a medical professional will not be feeling well, and may be stressed, worried, tired, and probably cranky — well, those attributes will come in handy. Truthfully, interpersonal skills in general are essential in the world of medicine. Because almost 10 percent of workers are employed in this field, you’re bound to come into contact with lots of people — especially your co-workers — throughout your day and your career, so being the kind of person who gets along with others is important.
You have great communication skills
OK, there is a long-running joke about the terrible handwriting of physicians, but communication skills — both written and verbal — are actually pretty good qualities for health care professionals. Just think about all of the information that has to be shared with and about patients; it has to be accurate and easily understandable. Whether you’re discussing a patient’s history with a colleague, entering information into a medical history for billing purposes, or explaining a child’s diagnosis to a parent, you’ll need to know how to communicate clearly and professionally.
You’re organized, but adaptable
There is no room for error in any aspect of the medical field, so even though you’ve worked a 48-hour shift with absolutely no sleep, you still have to remember which patient you’re visiting with, what medicines to recommend, or how to perform that emergency procedure. What this means is that in addition to knowing your stuff, you have to be incredibly organized, but be able to turn on a dime. No matter which exact career you choose within the field, whether it’s behind the scenes or talking to patients, organizational skills and adaptability are crucial to be able to remember where you are, who you’re talking to, and what you’re supposed to be sharing with them. In other words, learn to be a master of multitasking.
Another misconception about physicians is that they are self-centered; actually, it’s difficult to imagine that anyone who chooses a career in medicine is anything but selfless. After all, the hours that have to be worked, the sacrifices that have to be made to serve patients, and the sheer emotional investment are all difficult. You simply have to be someone who puts aside personal feelings and obligations and focuses only on the job and the patients. Medical professionals, in fact, are among the most selfless individuals in the workforce. So, do you have what it takes?