What a great question! There are so many options to help people in healthcare. You have to decide what is most important to you and go from there. Doctors, nurses, medical assistants and other clinical jobs provide direct care to patients, but there are other careers that help people that might not be as obvious. I'm the administrator of an outpatient practice and think about things like marketing, strategy, expenses, patient satisfaction, safety issues, staff engagement and new patient referrals. While I focus on the business side of healthcare, I'm always thinking about how our patients will be impacted and I have to understand clinical processes, but not all the details like the doctors or nurses.
Now could be a good time to explore the different healthcare settings and get a sense of what you like best. For example, do you want to work at a hospital, in the operating room (OR), at an outpatient clinic, at a dentist's office, at a pharmacy, at a physical therapy center, at an insurance company, at a healthcare IT company....it's quite a long list of options! I would look into student organizations on campus related to healthcare. These would be groups for students majoring in pre-med, healthcare administration or nursing. There might be companies that work with these groups and could connect you to shadow someone in one of these different healthcare settings.
You can also think about what type of work you like and what skills are a good fit. For example, a nurse will have to use science and protocols for his job, while a healthcare IT analyst will use IT systems and project management for her job. Once you identify job titles, find people who have those jobs and see about shadowing them. You might even consider getting a part time job in a hospital, doctor's office or pharmacy to get a sense of what the work would be like. This initial job might not be what you want to do long term, but would give you a chance to see other jobs and learn about the environment. For example, a patient transporter or information desk greeter at a hospital would give you exposure to lots of different areas of the hospital. This could help you figure out what kind of job you want and connect you with people in that job now. Building relationships is an important skill to learn in any industry, but especially healthcare because you interact with so many different kinds of people.
Good luck! You are already moving in the right direction by asking the question!
Katie recommends the following next steps:
- Identify campus groups associated with healthcare.
- Explore shadowing options in different healthcare settings, like a hospital or clinic.