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What medical job is right for me?

I want to go to the medical field, but I do not know what is right for me. I have two years of high school left. I have been looking for careers since the beginning of middle school but I am scared if I make the wrong decision. #healthcare #medical

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Mary’s Answer

I think you may want to ask yourself WHY you are interested in the medical profession? Is it to help people? Or because you find the study of diseases interesting? Or some other reason? Once you know that, I think it will help you narrow down your choices. For example, if it's to help people, then pick a medical career where you will work directly with patients to help them recover (e.g. Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy). If it's because you like the study of medicine and diseases, you might rather pick something with less patient contact (e.g. Lab technician, Pathology, etc.)

As for making the 'wrong' decision...I wouldn't worry too much about that. Every decision is a learning experience, and at your age it's very difficult to know what you really want to do. Your career choice is not a one time decision. With each job you have, new opportunity arises so that you can discover and fine tune what you really like to do. The nice thing about the medical field is there is so much opportunity to grow within a particular field. Nursing is the best example where there are so many different specialties and avenues to pursue, but many other medical professions have similar growth paths.

In my case, I liked the patient interaction, but also found human disease and pathology very interesting. I spent many years working in a hospital as an ultrasound technologist. It allowed me to interact with patients, but then I had the challenge of helping to diagnose disease based on the patient's symptoms, which was very interesting to me. When I was ready to move on, I took a job with a company that manufacturers ultrasound machines. First I was part of the sales team - so I demonstrated our equipment to other ultrasound technologists and doctors, and when they purchased our machine, I went back and taught them how to use it. From there, I moved on to work at my company's corporate headquarters, working with the engineers to help design new ultrasound machines. At one point in my career, I also taught ultrasound at a local college. So as you can see---many different paths a medical career can take!

Mary recommends the following next steps:

Make a list of why you think you want to enter the medical field
Based on that, narrow down your top 3 choices of medical professions
Call your local hospital or go through your guidance counselor at work to see if you can spend a day observing in each of those 3 areas, so you can get a feel of what a typical day is like.
Thank you comment icon Thank you very much for these steps. I will make sure to follow it. N.
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N.’s Answer

I want to enter the specialty of pediatric oncology because I like to be hands-on with patients. I've always wanted to help sick children since they should not go through their illness alone. I do not know if whether to become a physician or a nurse. As a physician yourself, what qualities should I have to become a future physician?
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Richard’s Answer

Picking a career is a major decision and you are smart to begin thinking about it early!

How long do you want to spend in school? Some medical jobs such as x-ray technologist, phlebotomist, and laboratory technician do not require a 4-year college degree.

Becoming a registered nurse requires a 4-year degree but allows flexibility. After training you can work as a nurse or pursue further education and become a nurse practitioner or nurse anesthetist.

Becoming a PA, occupational therapist or speech therapist requires a 4 year degree plus about 2 years of post graduate education.

Or if you're in it for the long haul you can become a physician. That requires a college degree, 4 years of medical school, and a 3-6 year long residency. After that some attend a 1-2 year long fellowship to become a sub-specialist.

Good luck!
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David’s Answer

If you are interested in the Medical field, I would recommend you to do some volunteering at a local clinic, doctor office, healthcare center, hospital and related medical area. That way you can have a sense of how these profession are like on a daily basis as well as see if what you wanted to do since you are young is the same of what it really is. I been in the Medical field and what is seen on TV versus read and hands on it totally different. I am not sure what state you are from but a lot of medical organization will take volunteer or let you shadow the medical profession to learn about their profession.
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Amruta’s Answer

There are a wide variety of options to choose in medical and healthcare fields like nursing, therapist, pharmacy, dentist, Clinical Laboratory Technician, radiology, physician, physiotherapy, Health Information Technician, Veterinary etc and etc. What job is right for you depends entirely on your interests and your strengths. So identify what you are really interested in and start preparing for it.
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l’s Answer

Becoming a registered nurse is always a good career path. Do you want to work hands on with patients or behind the scenes in a lab?
Thank you comment icon I've always wanted to work hands-on with patients, especially children. Becoming an RN is definitely a career I have thought about but I will have to dig deeper. N.
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Kim’s Answer

Well, everything I was going to say, Mary already said, and said it very well!

One word I want you to learn now: transferable job skills

Transferable job skills are those that are acquired in one field, but useful in another. Mary's going from medical to sales is an excellent example. Sometimes you might need to briefly go back to school to help make the transition, but, people do it ALL the time. Seriously, you are not stuck in one particular job.

Another concept to learn: the difference between "occupation" and "industry." Industry is a very broad field. The medical industry includes everything from administrative to dietary, to warehouse, to doctors. And everything in between. Let's say you work in a warehouse for a hospital. Sure, there are special practices, special codes, etc to learn. But you can go work in a warehouse anywhere! The occupation is warehouse. The industry is healthcare. Or, let's say you want to get out of warehouse work, but, stay in the healthcare industry. Then you look for other opportunities, perhaps supervising the laundry operations.

With transferable skills, you will need to be able to articulate how the skills acquired in one position relate to the position you are applying for. Not everyone will be able to see the connection right away. Trust me, you will learn how to do this!

I encourage you to stress less over all of this. It will all come together for you!

Best of luck!
Kim
Thank you comment icon Thank you very much for your advice. N.
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Yume’s Answer

Hi N.S!
It is always difficult to figure out what you will be pursuing. I think it's great that you are thinking about your future early! The healthcare field is known to be dynamic and rewarding, but also warrants a tough road ahead of you. Personally, I have also changed what I wanted to do, which all occurred during college. Although my motivation to pursue a career in healthcare was consistent, I did not know exactly know what I wanted to be until the 3rd year of college. There have been many ways that I personally figured out what I wanted to do.
Straight out of high school, I interned at a hospital through Cope Health Scholars. I knew I was passionate about the sciences, but I wanted to expose myself to a healthcare environment. Volunteering is also a great way to expose yourself, and there are many ways where you can find opportunities just by a simple Google or potentially talking to a counselor on campus if one is available. As a Health Scholar, I was able to shadow providers of various specialties including doctors, nurses (CNAs, RNs, NPs), physician assistants, occupational therapists, and physical therapists. Seeing what they do and how they work together highly motivated me to research all these professions. I was further able to narrow down my options once I worked as an assistant in optometry and an MA in ophthalmology because they really tested whether I genuinely enjoyed being in the healthcare field when directly impacting patient care.
You may want to consider personal traits you may have that may align with the job descriptions. Do you consider yourself a life-long learner? Do you like being a hands-on environment? Do you genuinely enjoy patient interaction? How long are you willing to commit to graduate school if your desired profession requires it? Pursuing anything in the healthcare field requires lots of commitment and studying, but assess yourself deeply to see what healthcare job is right for you.

Hope this helps!
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Rachel’s Answer

One of the first steps to deciding what type of physician you would like to be is deciding whether you want to operate as a surgeon or treat people with medications as an internal medicine doctor. There are some fields where you can do both (urology, ob gyn, etc). There are other fields like radiology and pathology where you may have minimal interaction with any patients at all. It would be great to take the opportunity to shadow physicians and see what is right for you.
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Estelle’s Answer

Medicine is a diverse field, but I can also be very rewarding! I am very excited for you to enter into the medical field. I can tell you from the perspective of a gynecologist. As a physician, I treat everything from routine female problems to major surgeries. I also work with nurses and medical assistance. Often times, nurses have more face time with patients and they require significantly fewer years of training. I would think about it like this:

- What kind of patients do you want to see?
- What kind of training do you want/what skills do you want to learn?
- How long are you willing to train?

Best of luck in whatever career you decide on!
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