You should not meander into the healthcare profession just because you get all charged up by shows like Scrubs and Grey’s Anatomy. Rather, it is about affirming a commitment to impact lives in the most critical scenarios.

Regardless of profession, the healthcare industry is about restoring life and hope, so before you decide to embark on a career in this field, check yourself with these 6 prompts.

1. You are comfortable with teamwork

In your work as a healthcare practitioner, you will have to work with people with diverse backgrounds, personalities and interests. Are you comfortable working with a multidisciplinary and multicultural team to initiate the best patient care since outcomes depend on how well each member performs his specific function? Working on one common thread necessitates good communication skills.

Are you quick to judge and impose your opinions, or are you willing to suspend your judgment and personal biases for the common good? Respect and understanding are traits that will further effective collaboration. You would not want to waste half your time settling conflicts with team members. In an environment where you have colleagues from different parts of the world, there is no room for ethnocentric behaviour; instead, a sense of cultural relativity is encouraged.

2. You are capable of empathetic care

Do people feel comfortable with you? In this helping profession, you need generous doses of compassion. Do you have a strong sense of empathy?

Geeta, a Sri Lanka nurse who has worked in Malaysia for the past 15 years, admits that caring for patients who are cooperative is easy but not when they are cranky. “You just have to find some reason to care and I would constantly remind myself of my decision to be a nurse. It gives me that sense of mission.”

Empathy and patience are desirable virtues in healthcare. Your patient will always see his situation as unique and expects you to hear him out. Are you able to listen with your heart and yet keep an emotional distance? Are you able to understand things from his perspective?

You have to be mindful that healthcare is not just about physical health; it covers emotional and mental well-being. Today, we offer more personalised healthcare services that align with the patient’s needs, with focus on a trusting patient-provider relationship. How you communicate with your patient will affect outcomes, especially when it comes to explaining procedures and medical conditions.

3. Your motivation is fuelled by passion

What propels you to care? When kindness is urged on by material reasons, it has limits. But when you are fuelled by passion, you engage hearts and keep on giving your best. This passion will translate into quality care where you do not compromise standards but adopt a meticulous eye because where every drip counts and one small slip may end a life.

Eliza Frazer, a nurse case manager in a hospice, says “As a nurse, I always fixed things; now I had to learn to fix things in a different way. I can’t make my [hospice] patients better, but I can improve their situation. I can make sure we get financial aid for a funeral if the family can’t afford it.”

4. You are fascinated with science

Have you always been excited about the amazing facts of the human body? If you enjoy the fascinating facets of science, particularly the human anatomy, then you are a good fit for the healthcare industry.
Most jobs in healthcare would require a substantial knowledge of science. You may be a radiographer or a nurse aide but whatever it is, your interest in science will stand you in good stead.

5. You believe in lifelong learning

We are in a knowledge economy and unless you keep yourself updated with advances in medicine, technology and science, you will feel inadequate in your work. When you are well informed, you gain trust and thus feel empowered. Like technology, the medical scene is always changing and continuous education will help you stay current.

Finding time to read and research requires good time management. When you know where you are heading and why you are going in that direction, this inner stability will enable you to set time for self-care and development.

6. You can manage your emotions

When you are in an environment of distressed people, you put yourself in a vulnerable position where emotions swing with no apologies and deaths happen by the second. The hospital scene can be as dramatic as a battlefield of nerves and noise.

If you find it hard to remain calm even when everything else around you is chaotic, then you may need to rethink your career choice. Good stress coping skills are vital in an intensely fast paced and varied environment.

Despite all its pressure and challenges, a career in healthcare can still be fulfilling because whether you are a pharmacist or a nurse, you are investing your moments in the moments of others, constantly rekindling hope, dignity and life. MIMS

Read more:
Given a choice, would you choose medicine all over again?
Doctors: How to stop second-guessing your medical career path
5 upsides to every doctor’s career