Employment Trends

5 Steps to Choosing the Right Medical Career Path

Written by Peter Jones

Whether you’re a biochem whiz, or just a Grey’s Anatomy addict, you’ve decided that the medical field is for you. You want to save lives, or hold hands and mop brows, or make a difference. Or maybe you just want to make more money, and have noticed that the medical professions tend to be well-paid.

That’s great. But what if you don’t know any more than that? Where to next?

Here are 5 steps to figuring out which medical career to choose, and in which direction to push yourself in your drive forward toward success.

1. Choose your adventure

Whatever your motivation, dig a little deeper and make sure you know exactly what it entails. Then orient yourself accordingly. Are you more of a people (read: patients) person? Or a lab rat? Do you want to do the nitty-gritty day-to-day aide of the ailing? Or would you rather assist a surgeon? Or would you like to be more hands on and try working in PT or occupational therapy? Figure out what skills and tastes you have, then figure out which field within the medical family suits those best. Then make sure you’re aware of any training or schooling you’d require for that field, and whether or not you’re willing to acquire it.

2. Specialize

Would you prefer to be in hospital or clinic? A doctor’s office or an urgent care? Do you want to be around children, the elderly, expecting mothers? Or a couple hundred beakers and test tubes? Figure out your ideal work environment, then start looking for positions within those.

3. Pick an ideal role

Within that work environment, what’s your ideal role? Do you want to be a leader? A team member? An assistant? Would you rather do administrative duties? Or patient care? Consider what is most appropriate for you, your skills and talents, your knowledge, the level of education you’re likely to attain, and of course, your temperament. (Don’t decide to be a trauma surgeon if stress makes you faint. And don’t pick a desk job in health records if you get easily bored.)

4. Get the skills

Once you’ve narrowed down a field, a work environment, and role, make sure you have a good grasp on the skills and experience required. If you don’t have any of them, or you need to pursue certifications or degrees, get started as soon as you can. You’ll never have a shot at the jobs you want unless you work to be qualified enough to land them.

5. Study hard

No matter what path you’ve chosen, you’re probably going to need some additional school. Do similar soul-searching when choosing a program that’s best for you. Then study hard, keep your eye on the prize, and remember: now that you’ve done all this preparation and self-interrogation, you can be confident in your choice. This is the career you want. Go get it.

About the author

Peter Jones