Healthcare is a massive industry where you can do a lot of good and be paid well for your efforts. It is so massive that you can truly find your calling. This means more than just working in a job that sounded impressive to you as a kid. It means finding something that helps you feel fulfilled and appreciated every step of the way.
Understanding how you personally work and what you need out of your job is one of the best places to get started.
Learn More About Yourself
Listen to yourself, your needs, and your wants. It’s easy to get caught up with what sounds good and try to go for a career that others find impressive, but unless that career choice is also something that helps you feel great, then it’s not going to help you get the most out of your career or your life.
Similarly, being scared to move forward and put yourself out there, even if you desperately want to make a lasting difference and start a legacy, is not a good enough reason to keep things the way that they are.
You need to be honest about what you need in a work/life balance and use that information to help you find roles that allow you to enjoy that balance.
What you think will be a good fit for you won’t always be the case, either. Perhaps you think you’re a good fit for a high-powered career in healthcare because you love challenges and working on your feet. You get there, either as a nurse or as a doctor, and may find that the emotional toll of caring for those who are sick, in pain, and dying is difficult and even traumatic for you. This does not mean you don’t have what it takes to work in a hospital, just that the high-powered role you imagined for yourself isn’t the right fit. Instead, look into management and administration, which allows you to help and lead without the same compassionate toll.
Similarly, you may find the right role for yourself, but not the right workplace. Perhaps a big hospital isn’t the right fit, but a smaller one is. Maybe that rural clinic isn’t as peaceful and comfortable as you thought, and you’d actually benefit better in a larger work environment.
You don’t have to get it right the first time, or even the fiftieth time if it’s not a right fit, but you do owe it to yourself to explore and self-reflect so that you can learn what you want out of your career.
Explore Career Options
When you only know a few options, it’s easy to make a choice in terms of what you want to do with your life and your career. The best choice from a set of bad options, however, does not automatically make it the best choice for you. There are so many great ways that you can take your healthcare career. You can start your own business, you can go into education, you can go into management, you can work privately, with NGOs, in policymaking, and more. You don’t even need to go into a high-powered career option and instead specialize further as a nurse, doctor, or another clinical specialist.
One thing remains consistent regardless of which path forward you use, and that is the necessity of research. Look at job boards and explore how departments work and the role everyone in your workplace plays (or as much as you can).
Knowing your options can help you make better decisions when it comes to your future.
How Healthcare is Changing
One thing to also keep in mind when working towards the next stage of your career is how healthcare as a whole is changing. This can help you adapt to new standards or look into a new and exciting specialization that simply did not exist before. Telehealth is one of the most obvious examples, as it will work to help decentralize healthcare. What this means is that, instead of the majority of healthcare facilities being in urban environments, more care and services can be redirected towards those in rural communities.
One of the Sustainable Development Goals is to increase access to and the quality of healthcare in developing and at-risk communities. Though it may seem unlikely, rural areas are at risk in their own way. Citizens deserve a way to get care and treatment without having to drive out hours to find their nearest hospital or specialist. With telehealth, care can be accessed wherever you are, right in your home.
Healthcare is changing, and with those changes come many incredible innovations and, as a result, many great career possibilities.
Telehealth Becomes the Norm
Telehealth will become the norm. More clinical professionals will need to expand their services to take meetings and appointments with patients remotely. You may even need to adapt to rely on a remote monitoring system that will flag you when a spike or health anomaly occurs. Telehealth will change every role as it becomes better and more established. Healthcare leaders, educators, policymakers, and everyone in-between will need to strategize around and work with telehealth.
Telehealth doesn’t just open up new roles. It will change the approach and focus of many existing roles as well.
Nanotechnology, Bioprinting, and More
Nanotech, biotech, 3D printing, and more – there are some very impressive innovations coming out that sound more like science fiction than they do reality, but soon they may very well become commonplace. With these new innovations will come new roles and more specializations. There will also need to be a substantial amount of research and development to fine-tune and continue to develop these new technologies, which means plenty of great opportunities for you.
Great Next Step Career Ideas
A few great next step career ideas that can completely transform your career for the better include:
Healthcare management is a great way to redirect and get more out of your career. There are so many different options as well. You can work within management and administration in large organizations, and in some cases, you can even open your own clinic or practice. Being a manager means being a leader. Being an administrator means getting things done. Together they can open up an entirely new world for your career to go. The difference? You’re in charge this time.
Getting into healthcare management is a combination of training, working for promotions, and knowing when and how to further your qualifications to make that leap from management into executive management.
There is a big difference between managing and overseeing a small team and overseeing an entire department or hospital. Not only is the work involved more difficult and challenging, but the number of professionals working in these jobs is significantly smaller.
It will take time before you can prepare yourself for big roles like Director of a hospital. This is reflected even in the degrees that you can earn to better prepare yourself for healthcare administration and all that it entails. A healthcare administration degree, for example, will often insist on several years working within a managerial position.
This is because the skills to be a manager and the skills necessary to work in administration are closely related, but they are not the same. You need to know how to lead people, delegate, and how to operate within a healthcare setting in order to get the most out of the administration degree.
The administration degree teaches you to apply that general managerial knowledge in a larger scale operation and works to improve your business, financial, and decision-making abilities with new skills and ideas.
The best degree for the job, once you do have that seven-year or so managerial experience, is an Executive Masters of Health Administration, which is an EMHA with a healthcare focus. Traditionally MBAs offer a wide focus approach, but an EMHA allows you to hyper-focus your efforts to better prepare yourself for a role within healthcare specifically. This focus comes from day one. With a traditional MBA, you can only focus on healthcare management with an additional certification.
As this degree type is offered primarily online with only one week of on-campus learning, you can easily adapt your career and your degree around each other. Put what you learn to good use right off the bat as well to showcase the value of your new degree and also workshop the skills, ideas, and suggestions you learn throughout your degree.
Being a great leader, after all, is more than checking boxes. You need to decide on your leadership style and how to best adapt your approach to get the best results out of everyone working under you.
Train the next generation of experts and specialists. You can train nurses, doctors, specialists, assistants, and so on. This is one of those options that do demand further education, unlike management, where an MHA can help you stand out and win that coveted leadership position but isn’t actually a formal requirement. You will need to either earn a PhD or an EdD in order to provide higher education training.
Healthcare Policy Making
Policymaking is another excellent way to make a big impact without the immediacy of working in the front lines. You can work in research, can work as a politician, or work alongside NGOs to help improve the strategy surrounding healthcare and societal health overall.
Don’t Be Afraid to Step Back
There is this conception that you have to work towards bigger things for them to be better, but that isn’t the case. If you find peace and harmony working in a small clinic and enjoy the work/life balance, then you don’t need to force yourself to work in a fast-paced, high-stress environment just because it is more prestigious. Similarly, you can move back into such a role if you find that you don’t like the stress of a new, more “important” job.
While there are certainly those that thrive working as a director or working to instigate lasting change, there are also those who like to keep things small. Small does not mean bad, either. In healthcare, no matter what you do, you are helping build a better world, so if that means taking things slow and working more closely with patients, or perhaps in another situation like research instead of in an executive position, then that is the perfect way to take your healthcare career to the next level.
Adapt, Change, and Grow
Finally, remember that adapting, changing your mind, and outgrowing even what you thought would have been your dream job is not just acceptable but encouraged. We do change. Our priorities change, our needs change, and how much we care will change. If you start off as a nurse, you don’t plan on burning out. When you get into healthcare to be a doctor, you don’t intend to hate it ten, fifteen years down the line when it means you work difficult hours and don’t see your kids as much as you want to.
Something that you absolutely need to keep in mind, however, is that there are always ways you can take your career. If you find yourself burning out when working with patients due to emotional and compassion fatigue but also find that you need daily challenges to stay excited and in the game, then redirecting your efforts towards a management role can be the perfect fit.
The best way to take your healthcare career to the next level is to be aware there are always options. You have a choice. You can do more than you are doing now, and you can also take a step back if it becomes too much.
There will always be a need for you wherever you want to take your healthcare career, so listen to yourself and your needs. This is how you will enjoy your work and how you will lead a more fulfilling life overall.