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Self Assessment – Am I Meant to Pursue a Career in Healthcare?

Ideally each of us should have the opportunity to work in a field that we are passionate about while making enough to survive. It is not easy to make career decisions. Some time of self-assessment and reflection may help you discover your professional niche.

Doctor hand with a stethoscope

Consider your interests—not only your current passions, but also ones that may have revealed themselves during childhood.~ Think about what skills and tasks you find enjoyable and come that easy and which ones may be not compatible.~ Think about what purpose you would like to fulfill or a cause you would like to stand for with your work.~ Ponder what rewards you are striving for. Is it job security, having a constant challenge, the potential to earn a high salary, notoriety, serving others…?

~ Consider what type of work environment you desire. Do you prefer a fast-paced or laid back environment? Working among many co-workers or a small number? Working a set schedule or various shifts?

You do not have to assess yourself alone. Visit professional career counselors at school or in the community (some services may be offered free by local organizations). Talk to various working professionals about their positions and ask them if they think you would be a good fit. Also have a nice chat with someone you trust. They may have observed some aspects of your personality and talents that you have never acknowledged before.

What Division of Healthcare Am I Meant to Pursue?

If you would like to pursue a career in healthcare, because of its value and the number of job openings projected to increase, start thinking about which division of healthcare is most suitable to your personality and talents.

Direct Patient Care: If you are a people person and want to directly interact with patients, there are a variety of positions within this area of healthcare. These include nurses, physical therapist assistants, dental assistants, surgical technologists, doctors, dentists, social workers, medical assistants and more.

Diagnostics and Medical Imaging: Would you like to help uncover why a patient is showing symptoms of illness or injury so they can get the treatment they require? A career in diagnostics and medical imaging might then be a perfect fit. Professionals like ultrasound technicians or sonographers, cardiovascular technologists, radiology technicians, phlebotomists and MRI techs fit into this category. These positions require a balance between interacting with patients and technology/science.

Administrative: Although positions within these categories do not directly relate to diagnosing or treating patients, their role is essential for healthcare facilities to run smoothly. Positions within this category include medical transcriptionists, medical biller and coders, medical administrative assistants and health services managers.

These are just some of the divisions of healthcare. Once you are done researching all of the facets that make up a hospital or healthcare setting, you can start finding out what each individual position involves and how each relates to your own interests and skills.

For example, the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography states that if you would enjoy providing “one-on-one care” to patients, using “high-tech instrumentation to create and interpret images from inside the human body”, working as part of a healthcare team and “committing to life-long learning,” then an ultrasound career may just be your calling.

Assessment Tools

There are various self-assessment questionnaires and tools out there that you can find online or from career counselors. Some websites charge a fee, but you can usually find an abridged version to use for free to learn more about your personality traits and how they relate to careers. They can be very insightful, and fun to complete; but do not allow them to carve your fate in stone, as it impossible for a questionnaire to capture your entire essence.

One popular self-assessment tool is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. After answering a series of questions, you end up with a four-letter psychological or personality type. There are 16 possible four-letter outcomes. For example, according to Cape Cod Community College’s “Choosing a Career” report (2011-2012), those with an ISFJ type match may make great radiologic technicians, nurses, physical therapists, respiratory therapists and dental hygienists.

Some Words of Wisdom from Sonographers
(Source: American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers):“Ultrasound is a wonderful career choice. It is not a good choice if you are just looking for a ‘job’. It requires a great deal of commitment as your abilities directly impact patient care.”“I teach, I’m taught, I do, I adapt, I think and I’m physically active, you can’t say that about many jobs!”

“A successful sonographer is someone who has an independent personality, who is bright, has strength of character and a strong ethical background. It is also important to have a spontaneous personality and enjoy working with and dealing with people.”

Experience for Yourself

The best way to assess whether you are meant to work in a particular field of healthcare is to experience it for yourself. Whether you are still in high school or thinking of switching careers, contact a local healthcare provider and see if you can arrange a job shadowing experience. You can arrange this for a number of positions you may be interested in.

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