20 Tips for Starting Your Medical Career
May 7, 2019
Starting your medical career can be difficult, especially when making the transition from academia to a professional healthcare setting.
With all of the new people, procedures, information, and other elements of starting a new job coming at you simultaneously, managing all of these new things can become a nightmare and take a debilitating toll on your mental and physical health. The good news is that it doesn’t have to debilitating or take a toll on your health for you to feel ready and confident about starting your medical career. With a few simple and easy methods, you can eliminate the stress from your life as you get ready to begin your medical career.
Transitioning into a new career can certainly feel stressful because there are a lot of unknowns. You might be unfamiliar with some of your co-workers, your managers, company organization, your new role, and more. You can reduce some of this stress and anxiety that you might be feeling by changing how you look at the new career transition. The great thing about transitioning in your career is that it’s an opportunity for you to get a fresh start. You might have felt stuck in a previous career or previous job, and transitioning into your new medical career is a great way for you to revitalize your spirits, and work-ethic.
We put together the following tips to make the transition into your new career easier and get you started on the right foot, right away!
20 Tips for Starting Your Medical Career:
1. Find a Mentor
Finding a great mentor can be challenging but its an endeavor well worth the headache. Find someone who aligns with your values and ambitions, and try to siphon off as much wisdom as possible. Clearly, you should be looking for someone with much more experience in the area you’re pursuing.
One fantastic way to find a mentor is to attend networking events or professional association meetings. These networking and association conventions are a great way for you to meet some interesting people who would turn out to be great mentors. There are plenty of experienced professionals in the healthcare and medical industry that would love to share their experience and knowledge with new professionals who are either transitioning into a new medical career or are starting their healthcare career for the first time.
Mentors don’t have to have tens of years of experience in the healthcare industry to be valuable mentors or provide you with some useful feedback in your career. Sometimes the best mentors are some of the ones that only have a few years of experience.
These less-experienced mentors are fantastic opportunities for you to gain some knowledge from those healthcare and medical professionals who also recently entered the industry. They might be able to give you some additional advice on how you can acclimate in the industry quicker, some things they had to learn in their first few years, and more.
In contrast, those healthcare professionals who have years of experience in the industry are able to give you a much broader perspective of how the industry has changed over time and what you can do to position yourself for a successful career in the foreseeable future. These mentors are fantastic because you’re able to learn more about what you should do to ensure your career is successful from things they’ve learned over a substantial amount of time.
2. Get Used to Being Scared
In this profession scary things happen, but its important not to let fear get the best of you. In fact, fear of a mistake can be used to your advantage since it can hone your focus on the task at you’re working on, minimizing careless mistakes. When you transition to a new career or starting your medical career for the first time, you’re going to have a lot of unknowns that you’ll have to face.
Sometimes the unknown might give you cause to fear or be scared, but over time you can rest assured knowing that you will eventually learn the skills and experience necessary to be confident in your job. Another thing that might give you cause to fear or be scared in the healthcare industry is that it is an industry with a massive depth of knowledge. It might sometimes feel like you’re drowning in a sea of knowledge, but you don’t have to. Over time you will pick up all the necessary skills, tools, and experience you need to succeed in your career.
The best way to get used to being scared is to take it one challenge at a time. For each challenge that you tackle, you’ll gain a little bit more confidence and you won’t be afraid of the unknown anymore. In fact, the more you gain confidence and trust in your skills and experience, the less scared you’ll be about when you have to face something that you’re unfamiliar with or worried about.
3. Ask Questions
Don’t be the kid that sits in the back of the class, thinking they’re cooling than everyone else by not caring about what’s going on and acting like they know everything already. Clearly, you don’t, and neither do your peers. If you have questions, do not be hesitant in asking someone, and never make a wild guess. More than likely, others around you are wondering the same thing.
One of the best ways to get started in your medical career or make a medical career transition is to constantly seek knowledge. When you constantly seek knowledge, you will stand out as a go-getter in your career. Not to mention, you’ll reduce the sensation of feeling scared because you’re gaining the knowledge to perform your job to the best of your ability — which reduces the fear of not knowing enough.
One of the best ways to ask questions is to make sure that you’ve already tried to find the answer beforehand. You want to try and find the answers to your questions before you ask others because you don’t want to bother them needlessly when the answer was easy to find. Asking questions is a great way to showcase that you’re passionate about learning in your new career and you want to position yourself for success in caring for others in the healthcare industry.
4. Don’t EVER Fake Knowing Something
The next thing in successfully working in the healthcare industry and starting your medical career is to admit when you don’t know something. If you don’t know something, speak up. It will be okay, and you should never perform any task without the proper knowledge. When you admit you don’t know something, the odds of you making crucial mistakes are much lower.
One of the best ways to make sure that you don’t ever fake knowing something is to make sure that you become accustomed to not knowing things. Often times when we start a new career we can feel a certain amount of pressure that we need to know everything otherwise we’ll get let go or our co-workers and management team will think less of us. The reality is that those are irrational fears. Employers and your co-workers don’t expect you to know everything when you’re starting a new job or getting started in the healthcare industry for the first time.
In fact, they expect the complete opposite. Every job and career is different. Each job will have its own way of going about some things or ways in which they do things as part of their protocol. This means that each person needs to learn the ropes to be successful, and employers expect there to be a learning curve for each new employee. This means there is no reason for you to feel obligated to fake knowledge about complex topics or fake an understanding of how to do something when you clearly don’t understand.
5. Grow Thick Skin
Another fantastic tip for starting your medical career is that knowledge that there are going to be some tough days and that you need to develop some tough skin. Every professional setting has some degree of stress involved. It is just an inevitable factor of life, unfortunately. In the healthcare industry, you might be exposed to a host of different things that could potentially make your day a little worse for the wear.
In the healthcare industry, you might have an unruly patient, or have to deal with something that upsets you because certain things were out of your control. This is completely natural in the healthcare industry and over time you’ll develop skills to become accustomed to it when compared to other industries. Healthcare professionals must maintain a high resistance to unruly patients, angry management and administrators, and the tragedies that can occur in a hospital.
The healthcare industry can be a tough working environment, and healthcare professionals have to develop thick skin to prevent something from affecting them. The reason for this is that working in the healthcare industry in a medical career requires each professional to do all they can to help each patient. If a healthcare professional is bothered by something that happened earlier in the day or is mentally compromised, they might then not perform their duties to the best of their abilities.
When a healthcare professional isn’t performing their duties to the best of their abilities and they have someone’s life potentially in their hands, then the risk for something negative to happen jumps big time.
Healthcare professionals who are just starting their medical career need to develop a thick skin to avoid letting this happen and ensure that they approach each new problem with mental fortuity to ensure they can care for each patient to their full potential and don’t get bogged down by some of the more difficult things that might arise in the healthcare industry.
6. Don’t Back Down When Advocating for Your Patients
The healthcare industry will give you plenty of chances to make a difference in each patient, and one of them will be when you have a chance to advocate for a patient. There are times when you will be tested and, if you feel strongly about some aspect of their treatment, speak up and make it known. If you work in an environment where your input is not treated with any weight, it may just be time to move on to another employer who will value your input.
Your patients won’t understand the complete inner-workings of their care most of the time. In fact, most of the time they will just go along with the loudest voice in the room because it creates a sense of authority and that they must know what they’re doing. Over time, as you gain more experience in the healthcare industry you will become more aware of what works in terms of treatment plans and how different types of patients respond to different forms of treatment.
In addition, another way in which you can advocate for patients is through your personal knowledge of them. Over time as you’re caring for patients you will develop strong relationships with them and you’ll have an opportunity to learn more about who they are, what kind of treatments they respond to, and more. The more comfortable you are with your patients, the more likely you’ll be compelled to be an advocate for them on certain treatment options or plans. Over time, as you advocate for more patients, you’ll become more accustomed to being a patient advocate in the healthcare industry.
7. Avoid Gossip
It can be tempting to try to connect with your peers by singling out a person you both know or work with, but this can have disastrous consequences for your career, causing a litany of interpersonal problems that can end up involving many more people than the one you decided to talk about. In other words, you want to avoid gossip at all costs when you’re getting your medical career started.
Gossiping with your new co-workers might seem like a fantastic way to become like the others and make some new friends relatively easy. The problem with this is that gossip tends to get around like it did when you started hearing about it. The moment you start talking about someone else with others, they will know that you tend to bad-mouth or gossip about others and won’t want to talk to you or will think negatively about you at a later date.
The last thing you want to do is be seen as someone who isn’t trustworthy because you’re liable to make your interpersonal relationships suffer, which will ultimately affect your attitude when you come into work each day.
Avoiding gossip doesn’t mean that you have to be mean to those individuals who are gossiping in your workplace. You can just choose to avoid it and not engage with the others when they seek feedback from you or want confirmation about their beliefs from you. Instead, you can either choose to completely ignore the gossip in its entirety, or you can defend the individual that they are gossiping about.
Avoiding gossip is vital to building strong relationships with your new coworkers in your new medical career.
8. Learn How to Say No
While overtime has its perks, just because you’re new doesn’t mean you have to live at work. If you have other responsibilities, such as family obligations, and your employer is insisting that you work more than you had agreed to, learning how to say no to their requests is important to maintaining your happiness, and sanity.
Learning how to say no might feel rather difficult when you start a new medical career because you feel like you’re the low one on the totem pole and you have to highlight your work ethic and your willingness to go above and beyond to satisfy your employers. The problem with going above and beyond or saying yes to everything they ask you to do like overtime will quickly lead to you feeling burned out in your new medical career. Over time, this feeling of getting burned out will create more problems than are necessary, and you’ll look for new career options.
Learning how to say no throughout your career is important if you want to set boundaries. Your work-life balance should always be one of the main priorities throughout your career and the first way to establishing that boundary is learning when to say no when they ask you to do things that you’re not comfortable with or that would overwork you. It can be a good idea to establish that you’re a hard-worker by being open to working overtime, but when it becomes a regular trend, you need to let your employer know that you cannot do it all the time.
9. Don’t Let Negativity Ruin Your Perception of Your Career
Many people will give you their input on the job, whether its solicited or not. Be sure to take the negative opinions with a grain of salt. These people have either had bad experiences or chose the wrong career and are not passionate about their work.
Nearly every single person you interact with will have their own opinion about what your job is, what you do, what kind of workload you experience, what kind of stress you experience, and more. Virtually every single person will have their own differing take on what kind of job you have and how excited you should be and more. Unfortunately, over time this will lead to you developing a different perspective on your career, and it’ll often be the perspective of the other people who have been talking to you and trying to influence how you view your career.
The key to starting your medical career is realizing that everybody comes from a different industry to join the healthcare industry — which makes it a beautiful career choice. There are so many different roles and career opportunities in the healthcare industry that you can have come from any background that you want and still have a successful career. You shouldn’t be ashamed of your career choices or what led you to working in the healthcare industry.
In addition, you shouldn’t feel bad about your current career based on what others say about your job. As we’ve highlighted earlier, there are going to be plenty of potential reasons that somebody is bitter about your job or your career, and they will try to tear you down to make themselves feel better. These individuals might be upset because of a former boss, employer, working conditions, responsibilities, and more. Just because they’re bitter or upset about something doesn’t mean you should be in your career.
Take pride in your work and your journey in your medical career and you’ll do just fine in the healthcare industry.
10. Write Everything Down!
Everyone is forgetful to some extent, especially when trying to take in a library-worth of information in a short period of time, like when starting a new job. The healthcare industry is also one of the more complex industries to work in because there is so much knowledge that employees are expected to know over time. The great thing about working in the healthcare industry is that you have the ability to truly learn something new each day. Not many other careers can honestly say that they have the ability to learn something new.
One of the best ways to prevent feeling overwhelmed from all the knowledge that you feel like you’re forced to learn is by writing everything down.
Anything you or your superiors deem “need-to-know” be sure to write it down. This is not only for your future reference, but the exercise of physically writing something imprints it in your memory, making it easier to recall later.
In addition, when you write things down, you won’t feel like you have to constantly ask questions to remember what somebody has said or told you earlier. Over time you’ll eventually get more accustomed to learning new things and your ability to retain more information from what you’ve written down. You’ll learn how to take better notes and be able to do it in shorthand form to reduce the amount of information you have to write down.
11. Don’t Rush Orientation
One of the best parts about staring your medical career is the orientation process. The orientation process is when you get to become accustomed to all of the new coworkers you’ll be interacting with, learn the layout of the facility where you’ll be working, learn about each person and some of their hobbies, and more.
The orientation process is also a great time for you to learn what your role will entail, and how you are expected to go this is the time to make mistakes, ask questions, and get a good grasp on the position you’re taking on and let management or peers know if there’s something that you need help with. By doing so, you’re showing your interest in the job and commitment to doing it well.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes as you go through orientation. As we’ve covered earlier, this is your time to make mistakes and then learn from them. Take the time to ask plenty of questions and seek feedback on how you can do things better, what you can do to make the process quicker, and other ways you can improve in your new medical career. Asking critical questions like this during your orientation will also help you make new friends because you’re opening yourself up to advice and feedback from the other people you will be working alongside.
12. Learn Time Management Skills & Always Strive to Arrive Early
If you’re early, you’re on time, and if you’re not early, you’re late. Learn to manage your time effectively to make room for all of the responsibilities you’re assigned. It is much better to finish early than it is to be horribly late, whether its an assignment or arriving to work.
Time management skills are crucial to having a successful career, especially in the healthcare industry. Time management is important in the hustle and bustle of a hospital or healthcare facility, as there are plenty of different things going on at the same time. Usually, when you run over on a task or responsibility you’ve been given, you’re holding up a patient from being seen or another healthcare professional is going to be behind because of it. Don’t be that person who keeps holding others up, and make sure that you use time management effectively.
13. Remember, You Have to Earn Respect
A great way to start off your career on the wrong foot is to act superior to those around you. Nobody likes these people and they’re usually shunned from social activities and any networking opportunities that may arise. Come into the job with a humble attitude, recognizing that you don’t know everything, and you’ll be well on your way to earning the respect of those around you.
One of the best ways to earn respect is to be kind to others and heed their advice and feedback. Often times when we begin a career, we might think that we know everything more than the others who have held the role for quite some time because we’ve got other experience that might be applicable in a medical career. The reality is that each career or job is different and you should humble yourself each time you start a new opportunity.
The next way to earn respect in your job is to listen well and then apply what you’ve heard to your daily routine. When you start a new job, you want to make sure that you learn all that you can to be successful, and your new coworkers will have plenty of advice and tricks to recommend to you in your new role. You can earn their respect by taking their advice and using it.
Another way to earn respect is to be respectful to others. Earning respect is a great way to get acclimated in your new role and to get comfortable in your medical career.
14. Walk, Don’t Run
Whether you’re new to the position or an experienced veteran, its still important to take your time (within reason) to avoid making costly mistakes. Don’t rush through things just to get them done if it is taking away from the quality of care or service that you’re providing. This kinda echoes the earlier sentiment we’ve highlighted about how you don’t want to rush things to make an impression about yourself. Take your time and focus on what you can do the job correctly.
You’ll earn more respect and get acclimated in your role quicker if you take the time to make sure that you’re doing things right the first time instead of being forced to do them several times over because you’re rushing to make an impression. Having a fast pace will build up over time, so there is no rush for you to feel like you need to do everything quickly. Do things correctly the first time to develop the muscle memory, and you’ll be shocked at how quick you can do things down the road because of the time you took to learn all the skills slowly initially.
15. Learn From Mistakes
“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” – George Santayana
This quote holds true only if you don’t learn from them along the way. Employers will tolerate mistakes, you’re only human, after all, but what they won’t tolerate are the same mistakes being repeated regularly.
To prevent repeating mistakes, make sure that you take our advice and write down questions you asked, answers you received, tips you were given, and any other notes you might have gathered. Making mistakes is part of any job, and you’ll get things wrong in your first couple weeks in your medical career. The more mistakes you make, the more you’ll learn throughout your healthcare career.
While you shouldn’t go seeking mistakes in your first couple of weeks, you also shouldn’t be fearful of making them — because mistakes give you an opportunity to learn. The key to starting your medical career is to make sure that you’re open to learning while on the job. When you indicate that you’re open to learning new things and new ways of going about things that you might have done differently elsewhere, you’ll stand out as a good hire.
16. Remember, the Grass Isn’t Always Greener
Avoid acting too quickly when starting a new position when deciding if it’s for you or not. Some days can be extremely stressful and can push you farther than you thought possible. Don’t make any rash decisions without weighing the options first.
Every new job you start will have its ups and downs until you get fully acclimated. You might even feel like you’re in over your head and you need to find something that is more your speed in another industry. While the healthcare industry does make you feel like you jumped into the deep end of the pool sometimes, the good news is that you’re not alone on this journey and there have been others who have started their medical career and felt the exact same as you.
As we’ve highlighted earlier, the healthcare industry is one of the few industries where you get an opportunity to impact others on a large scale. This means that if you’re looking for a career opportunity where you can impact others, then you’ll be hard pressed to find another opportunity like a medical career. Sometimes it takes a little bit of time to get into the swing and groove of things, and you shouldn’t jump ship to pursue new career opportunities because it is difficult at first. Every new job or career opportunity will be difficult at first, but as you gain experience, learn new skills, and get adjusted to the routine of the healthcare industry — you’ll find that the grass is green where you’re currently at.
17. Be a Team Player
Are you a loner or the type that just doesn’t function well with a team? Unfortunately, a career in healthcare may not be the best fit for you. Patients are cared for by teams of professionals, rather than one person, so its vital to your success that you learn to work as a functional part of the team.
One of the best ways to start your medical career on the right foot is to make sure that you do everything you can to be a team player and work effectively with others in the healthcare industry. Being a team player takes a little bit of practice and effort because team dynamics aren’t always the same. There are times when you’re working in the healthcare industry and you’re going to easily get along with other members of your team. And then there will be other times when you’re struggling to get along with anybody and it feels like a never-ending uphill battle.
The best way to get around both of these and set yourself up for success in every scenario is to strive to be a team player. There are going to be difficult scenarios and team dynamics that you have to get accustomed to sometimes, and you’ll have to work extra hard to be an effective team player — but it’s important that you strive to be that team player!
18. Be Thankful
Thank those around you for their help, even if what they did was small. People like to know they’re appreciated, and fostering healthy relationships with your coworkers and management staff should be one of your top priorities when developing your career.
The next thing that you can do to start your medical career off on the right foot is to be thankful that you’ve been given an exciting opportunity to impact others in a positive way. In the competitive job market, there are hundreds of people who most likely applied for the same position that you did and through your hard work and determination you were able to stand out as one of the leading candidates, and then ultimately get selected for the job. There are plenty of people who would be willing to take your job at a moment’s notice, and you should be thankful that you’ve been given the opportunity to work where you work and start your medical career.
19. Never Apologize for Doing Your Job
Some people cannot be pleased, no matter what you do. Don’t let them bog you down or make you feel as if you’ve done something you shouldn’t have when you are well aware that what you were doing was right.
20. Pursue Knowledge & Learn New Skills
Just because you’ve graduated, doesn’t mean the learning stops. Contribute to your own professional growth. Many careers in healthcare require that, in order to maintain your license, you must complete a certain number of continuing education units. This is meant to ensure that those providing care are at the top of their field and don’t fall behind.
Learning new skills is essential to succeeding in your medical career. The good news is that it only takes a few minutes a day, and several hours a week to learn new skills. Learning a new skill is something that you can then apply throughout your career. You can also spice up your knowledge pursuit by combining things you’re passionate about outside of work with things that you are passionate about in work.
( Article / Content Updated 2019 )