If you don’t have a passion for healthcare and are only doing it for the money- you’re already setting yourself up for failure in this field. If you are only in this field because it’s what your family wants for you- you will never be happy. And that’s on period!
First, let’s check the resume.
I’ve been working in the healthcare field since 2013/2014 which means I was 19 years old when I started out. I completed my training and got a Certificate of Completion from Fortis Institute. Then, I got registered and certified through American Medical Technologist. I then earned a second certification as a Phlebotomy Technician but my major roles were as a Medical Assistant.
I’ve worked in several specialties within hospitals and medical centers. Healthcare was honestly something I initially didn’t know if I had a passion for in the beginning. I was young and still trying to figure out where I belonged and what I was good at. My aunt was a nurse and an Air Force veteran so I looked up to her a lot-career wise. So in a sense, I wanted to be just like her.
Healthcare is a very fulfilling and well-sought after career field to work in. So I decided to put together some things for people to consider before pursuing healthcare as a career. We all know the benefits: job security, a nice steady pay check, great benefits, the acquired technical skills, cool scrubs, and comfy clogs. But here are some things that must be taken into consideration cause it’s not always sunshine and rainbows.
Don’t get attached, expect change- often. In this field, change is inevitable.
When you start to see some of the same patients periodically, you will begin to build relationships with them. You’ll start recognizing their faces and memorizing their names. But you have to remember- you can never get too close or personal out of respect and privacy laws. You may never get a chance to say goodbye when you get a new job, if the patient suddenly passes away, or if the patient decides to leave the practice. I still can’t believe I find myself randomly thinking about certain patients from previous jobs and I genuinely be wondering how they’re doing.
The same goes for the people you work with. These are the people you’ll see every day and for your sake, hopefully the experience will be a pleasant one. Your coworkers will come and go, you may have to train new employees, work with other doctors in the practice, cover at another practice (if you’re a floater), work the front desk, and management may change randomly as well.
There’s also a saying of “your coworkers are not your friends” and that’s true, but if you use good judgment and you have really great supportive coworkers, they kind of do become your friends overtime. And if the friendships survive after you switch jobs then that’s how you know it’s real.
Be careful not to gossip and share too much of your business with everyone. The healthcare world especially Medical Assistant roles are dominated by women so things can get real catty if you aren’t careful.
You are ALWAYS essential.
Whether it’s a rain storm, hurricane, blizzard, heat wave, world war 4, a virus outbreak, or a zombie apocalypse going on outside, you MUST report to work. Some practices may choose to close early or start later in the day but most likely the practices will always remain open during hazardous work conditions. You may get lucky if you happen to work for a private practice, but hospitals and large medical centers? nope!
There’s been times where I’ve literally cried in the car on my way to work during a snow storm because I had to leave my safe warm bed to risk my life for my job. And when you don’t have any kids, your manager will not be as understanding as to why you want to call out for the day.
The “work/life balance” is a myth.
“No PTO? then you can’t go” is basically how it goes and you’re only given a certain amount per year. And if they aren’t used, you’ll lose all your PTO hours by the new year. It’s also the guilt of leaving your coworkers to pick up your slack when you’re gone and knowing that when you come back it’s going to be hell trying to catch up that prevents you from taking time off.
How can you have a healthy work/like balance when you’re at work MAJORITY of the time? How can you have a healthy work/life balance when you only have two days to yourself that go by in a flash? How can you have a healthy work/life balance when you’re too tired at the end of the work day to do the things you enjoy?
As essential healthcare workers we still have to come to work when we don’t feel good (COVID has finally given us the ability to prioritize our health now), when we’re sad, when we’re hurting, and when we’re simply not in the mood.
So, take that vacation, take those personal mental health days, and stop cancelling your own medical appointments because when you burn out or get sick and die, your position will be replaced within a week.
Thick skin is a must.
If you’re the type of person who “pops off” quick when someone/something upsets you, I promise you’ll get fired just as fast. Not saying you have to tolerate constant disrespect and abuse, but you must learn to be slow to anger. When I was first starting out, it used to hurt my feelings when patients were rude to me. I’ve learned to grow some thick skin over the years. Kill them with kindness and a polite “drag” with facts and knowledge.
I now understand that most times the patients aren’t really upset with you, they’re just projecting their anger from whatever situation their going through. It’s never personal.
When patients come to the hospital, they’re usually scared, worried, sick, or in a lot of pain so of course they’re not going to be nice all the time. But you can’t fight fire with with fire, that never solves anything. Some patients, even the doctors you work with will really try your patience. Don’t let them get the best of you. Make sure you keep a record and report all incidents to management to protect yourself.
This is also where effective problem-solving and conflict resolution comes into play.
Minor mistakes can be life threatening.
You can’t be a super clumsy and forgetful person in this field. HIGH attention to detail is required. Yes, you will make mistakes at first but you have to learn from them quick and you cannot keep repeating them. A simple mistake can cost a patient their life and you do not want that on your conscience or your record. It’s an automatic career-killer.
It gets expensive.
Unless your family is rich or you’re a trust fund baby, you can expect to accumulate some sort of student loan debt. If you want to become a doctor or a nurse, then you’ll really be kicking out some serious cash.
Other costs you may be expected to pay: annual certification renewal fees, continuing education credits, new uniforms- scrub tops, pants, lab coats, work shoes, a good working watch, your own stethoscope, etc.
Is there any room for growth?
In the healthcare field in general? Yes, there are plenty of opportunities for growth. But as a Medical Assistant? No. The furthest you can go as a Medical Assistant is becoming a Lead Medical Assistant. Unfortunately, you will always be JUST a Medical Assistant, and it’s sometimes difficult to move away from those types of roles when that’s all you’ve ever been. To move up in the healthcare field, you will have to go back to school for additional training, get additional certifications, build a lot of experience in multiple specialties, or seek a degree.
My closing thoughts
Working in the healthcare field has really helped me grow into the professional woman that I am today. Although I do not plan on being a Medical Assistant or staying in a clinical role long-term, I have gained a considerable amount of experience and life-long skills that I can take with me to any other role I choose.
I’ve learned compassion, empathy, resilience, problem-solving skills, acquired a high attention to detail, and I’ve greatly improved on my communication skills (even though I’m reserved and introverted, I know how to code switch when I need to). Without my medical training, I wouldn’t have been able to identify the stroke symptoms my dad was having and ultimately help save his life. Without my medical training, I wouldn’t be able to heal myself, offer advice, know CPR, and so much more.
If you know someone in the healthcare field, please thank them for all they do. They are most likely exhausted right now. And whenever you visit the doctors office as a patient, please be kind and courteous. We are doing the best we can for YOU.
Affirmation: I am grateful for where I’m at, excited about where I am going.Cosmic RX.
Me and some of the best coworkers I’ve ever had at Sinai Hospital. We’ve all have since went our separate ways.
The others aren’t pictured, but they know who they are. (Picture 1- I’m top right with the glasses and in picture 2- I’m upper left)