The medical profession is one of the most respected. Be it doctors, nurses, support staff, managers or administrators, a career in medicine is seen as a noble pursuit, and one that can be financially and emotionally rewarding for the individual concerned. A highly specialized area, medical professionals naturally need to undergo intense study and training to even come close to being ready. Both academic and on the job training is required, and only the very best will be able to last the duration of the course. As well as clinical jobs, there are also a growing number of managerial jobs in the healthcare industry, which come with the same high expectations.
A career in healthcare can be a positive lifestyle choice, and one that will set you on a trajectory spanning the entirety of your career. In the healthcare industry, expectations are high and people are financially rewarded for the work that they do. There are plenty of opportunities for promotion and for specializing in particular areas of healthcare, and as the professions go, medicine is often seen as being much more fulfilling than, say, law or accountancy. It is obviously not the best choice for everyone, but for those with a caring personality and the willingness to commit their lives to the vocation, it can be extremely rewarding.
The training requirements vary depending on the type of job you are looking to do. Most will require a combination of academic study and placement-based work, which in turn will mean you have to dedicate your working life to your study. But for the end result, this is a price many consider to be worth paying.
The process of studying to become a doctor is often regarded as one of the ultimate academic challenges. Just short of veterinary medicine, which is necessarily longer (animals can’t describe their symptoms, after all), medicine requires the longest period of study of any career choice. When the academic leg is finished, there is still a significant on-the-job training period to be spent before qualification becomes a realistic prospect. All in, it can take a minimum of around a decade to qualify to become a doctor, depending on the particular requirements where you live and work. Once you have qualified, it is essentially your passport to work anywhere in the world, and your services will always be in high demand.
Doctors are respected for the work they do, and for the work they have invested in getting to that stage in their career. But not everyone who starts the course will finish it, and even those who obtain their degree can still fail on the job. It is a tough, rigorous process to become a fully qualified practitioner, but perhaps no less than you would expect given the life and death nature of the role.
For those that devote themselves to becoming more accomplished in their field of practice, specialization can provide opportunities for furthering their career. Becoming a surgeon or consultant is regarded as the pinnacle of the profession, and these doctors are rewarded more generously as a result.
It is not just doctors who have to study intensely to earn their career in healthcare. Nurses too are required to study in depth in order to reach the point of practice. The nursing qualification relies on a similar combination of practical skills and academic study. While it is a role that is much more care-based, there is no less theoretical work to be done. Nurses must have a good general medical knowledge, and the training portion of these qualifications requires study of various areas of health. For example, nurses will look intensely at anatomy in the same way doctors would, and will need to study immunology and viruses. These, along with many more areas of healthcare, are common to both professions.
While becoming a doctor has a strong hands-on component, nurses are more involved with patients during the course of their training. This is because nursing is primarily practical. In reality, this means nurses will be required to attend hospital and community placements throughout their training, often spending as much as 50% of their time on location.
To be a nurse, you need to have the academic ability to handle the course materials. But you also need to have a strong sense of care and compassion. Nursing is arguably the more difficult job, in that nurses are on the front line of medical care. It is the nurse who tends to the patient’s every need, rather than the doctor. In this respect, it takes a special kind of person to become a nurse and to do the job well.
The healthcare professions are an appealing choice for those considering their next career move. But to assume that even everyone who starts training will qualify is to misunderstand the personal qualities necessary to succeed in healthcare. This profession is not right for everyone, and many other professionals would have literally no interest in these fields. For those who do have a passion for healthcare, and who wish to pursue a non-medical career, there are options on the non-clinical side.
Administration and management of healthcare is a field all of its own, with its own particular issues and concerns. Similarly, pharmaceuticals, research and academia all hold potential for those looking to work in healthcare in a non-clinical capacity. It is a big field. Those who are interested in working in it can always find a suitable job – whether that is at home or abroad.
The medical profession is one of those rare sectors where academic ability and practical skill must intersect. The best doctors can earn serious amounts of money, given the sheer importance of the skills they posses. But ironically, many choose not to pursue this career for the financial rewards. Instead, it often comes from a place of caring, and from a willingness to help others. Compassion is the keyword in medicine, whether you are training to be a doctor, a nurse, or to perform in some non-clinical capacity.