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5 Tips to Help You Choose the Right Medical Career Path

People who don’t work in medicine often think of medical professionals in terms of doctors and nurses. But there are many different types of physicians, many types of nurses, and a whole host of other medical careers that exist.

With so many options, deciding which medical career to choose can be difficult. If you’re ready to get your medical career underway, keep reading. Here are five tips to help you choose the medical career path that’s right for you.

1. Think About Who You Want to Serve

One way to determine which medical career path to take is to think about the type of people you want to serve and provide care for.

People that want to care for children may pursue a career in pediatric medicine.

If you want to care for the elderly, a career in geriatric medicine may be the right choice.

Is your goal to deliver quality healthcare to underserved populations?

Working as a nurse in a community clinic might be the right choice for you.

Those who want to fight to prevent certain medical conditions or diseases, such as cancer or diabetes, may choose to pursue a career in medical research.

Knowing who you want to serve can help steer you in the direction of a medical specialty or discipline that will fulfill and satisfy both your personal goals and career goals.

2. Think About Where You Want to Work

Where you envision yourself working can also help steer your career path.

For example, if you’ve always dreamed of working in a busy hospital or a fast-paced trauma emergency center, you may want to go become a physician or a registered nurse. 

If you picture yourself working in a small, private practice you may want to become a medical assistant or specialize in a field such as dermatology or optometry where you can open your own practice.

3. Consider the Lifestyle

Many people choose a career path based on the lifestyle and level of salary they desire. Medical professionals are no exception.

There are a wide range of medical career paths to choose from, and each one provides a different type of lifestyle and work/life balance.

For example, physicians and nurses in hospitals often work in high pressure scenarios and sometimes have to work overnight shifts or be on-call on weekends and holidays.

On the other hand, primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, and medical assistants often find it easier to maintain a more traditional 9 to 5 role and work within a set schedule and a daily routine.

Salary plays a role in lifestyle as well.

If your dream is to have a luxury home and take lavish vacations, you’ll want to choose a career path that pays a higher-than-average salary. To reach a salary goal of upwards of $500,000 per year, you’ll need to work in a highly specialized field, such as neurosurgery or orthopedic surgery.

4. Consider the Level of Education You’ll Need

Top-earning physicians, such as those in surgical specialties, can expect to spend at least 14 years in college, medical school, and residency. But there are a variety of medical careers that you can embark on that only require a few months of training.  

While many medical professionals aspire to be a physician, spending more than a decade of your young adult life in school isn’t the right choice for everyone. Here are some of the many medical careers that require two years of education or less:

  • Dental hygienist
  • Radiology technician
  • Physical therapy assistant
  • Diagnostic medical sonographer
  • EMT
  • Phlebotomist
  • Pharmacy technician

These rewarding careers are excellent options for those with an interest in medicine that don’t want to spend their entire twenties and early thirties in medical school, residency programs, and fellowships.

5. Research the Job Outlook to Understand the Demand

Before choosing a medical career, do your research to learn if you’re about to enter in a field that’s in demand.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook provides an overview of every type of career in the U.S. It indicates which jobs are growing the fastest and how many new positions will be created in each field over the next ten years. It’s an excellent source of information that can help guide you into choosing a medical career path that is in demand.

Be Prepared to Sign an Employment Contract

Depending on the medical career you choose, you may have to sign an employment contract when you land your first job. This can have significant implications on your career related, including where you’ll be able to work after your contract comes to an end.

Read this article to learn more about employment contracts and discover why you should always hire a physician contract lawyer before signing one.

In Conclusion

Deciding which career path to take can be difficult, but asking yourself some tough questions can help you make a more informed decision.

Think about who you want to serve and where you want to work. Consider the type of lifestyle you want, the level of salary you hope to earn, and how much education and training is required. Do your research to learn about the projected job outlook and industry growth in the next few years.

Whether you hope to become a doctor, a nurse, or some other type of medical professional, weighing these factors will help put you on the right path to finding a fulfilling, rewarding medical career. 



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