Have you ever considered whether a career or medicine, or a related field where medical knowledge comes in handy, could be for you? Maybe you thought medicine was too difficult or that your interest is merely passing and your true gifts lie elsewhere. Whether you’re just starting out or are contemplating a career change, read on to learn what you need to know to make this important life decision.
What am I like?
The first question you need to ask is about yourself. Self-knowledge is arguable the most important knowledge we can have. As you consider yourself, think about these things:
- What are my goals in life?
- What interests to do I have: what to do enjoy?
- What are my values?
- What is my personality?
The answers to all these questions can help you know if a career in medicine is for you. To help you along the way, consider taking a few tests, such as the Myers Briggs Personality Inventory or the Rokeach Values Survey. These can help you understand who you are and whether your personality and values are suited to a life in medicine.
What is the job like?
This question is simultaneously difficult and simple to answer. The reason it is difficult is that there are so many possible fields you could explore. Speaking broadly, you could become a doctor, a nurse, an anesthesiologist, a physical therapist, a dentist, an opthamologist, a mental health professional, a behavioral health professional, a surgeon, or even a radiologist.
Getting more specific, each of those larger categories has many specialities that you can pursue. Each has its pros and cons, special requirements, and special rewards. You could work anywhere from a sleep disorders institute to a large university hospital; in private homes or a hospice situation.
Wherever you end up, any career in medicine does require a few things:
- Willingness to continue your pursuit of knowledge for your whole career
- Ability to work in a team
- Problem solving skills
- Desire to work with people
- Commitment to serve others
Where can the job lead?
Just because you start out studying medicine doesn’t mean you’ll end up as a doctor or a nurse. There are many careers where a background in science and medicine can be a valuable asset.
With a background in medicine, you could be well positioned to branch into pharmaceutical research at a company like GlaxoSmithKline. You could be prepared for a career in midwifery or as a medical transcriptionist.
Medical studies could prepare you to be a more effective medical malpractice attorney or position you to take a wide variety of clinical support jobs. You might end up pursuing a career in life sciences or choose a path as a paramedic or dietician. As a forensic scientist you might assist the police in solving crimes; as a military medic you could work on the front lines, protecting and serving as part of the military.
What will it take?
It will take a commitment to finish a difficult and demanding course of study. It will take determination, focus, and flexibility. It will also take a lot of plain, ordinary hard work. If you want to pursue a career in medicine, you can’t be satisfied just to study the sciences: you also have to develop your skills in working with people.
Whether you end up working in medicine directly or in a peripheral career, you will need to be able to get along with other people. You will need to be able to leverage the power of teamwork, function as a leader, and know how to stand up for what you know is true or right: even if the opinion is unpopular.
A career in medicine is difficult: but it’s also one of the most rewarding professions anyone can pursue. Take some time to learn about yourself, the job, and the possible careers a study of medicine can prepare you for. It may be more exciting and fulfilling than you ever thought possible.