Are You Comfortable With Science?
Many (but not all) health careers require you to be a strong science student.
All health careers involve some laboratory science, and some programs demand
intensive work in the hard sciences (i.e., chemistry, physics, biology).
Are You Prepared to Keep Up with Developments in Your
Good health care practitioners are committed to giving their patients the best
care available. That means, in order to keep up with the latest developments in
your field, you'll need to continue studying and learning throughout your
Are You Comfortable in a Health Care Setting?
Are you prepared to deal with a wide variety of people? In many (but not all)
health careers, you may spend much of your time in the company of sick,
disabled, or dying people. This will become increasingly common in the near
future, as the large "Baby Boomer" generation enters old age.
In terms of a clinical setting, you might work in an HMO, community health
center, mobile clinic, long-term care facility, private practice office, or even
a patient's home.
You may opt to work in a bustling city or a sleepy suburb -- and if you do,
you'll be meeting a legitimate need. However, there's an urgent need for health
practitioners in medically under-served areas, which often are in farflung rural
communities or inner-city neighborhoods.
If you would prefer less direct contact with patients, there are numerous other
health-related work settings -- including pharmacies, laboratories, medical
libraries, and corporate, non-profit or government offices, to name just a few.
You might be part of a small staff or a huge organization, working at the
national, regional, state or local level. The possibilities in this field are
Are You a Team Player?
Health care is increasingly becoming a group activity, in which a patient's
recovery depends on how well each member of the health care team performs his or
her specific function – and how well they communicate and collaborate with one
another. Even dentists – 70% of whom work in a solo private practice – usually
supervise and work closely with several staff members.
What Lifestyle Do You Envision?
How do you feel about facing life-and-death situations on a daily basis? Some
(though not all) health careers involve coping with emergencies, working
extremely long hours, and shouldering heavy responsibility. What kind of
lifestyle do you envision? How much time do you hope to spend at work, versus at
You need to be realistic with yourself: If you don't mind long workdays and are
good at handling stress, go ahead -- pursue an ER-style career. But if you'd
rather have a job with regular hours and fewer medical crises, there are plenty
of other fulfilling health careers.