20 Tips for Starting Your Medical Career

In Career Advice
June 14, 2016

Starting Your Medical Career

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.

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.

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.

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.

4. Don’t EVER Fake Knowing Something

If you don’t know something, speak up. It will be okay, and you should never perform any task without the proper knowledge and the odds of you making a crucial mistakes are much lower for those that ask beforehand.

5. Grow Thick Skin

Every professional setting has some degree of stress involved. Its just an inevitable factor of life, unfortunately. However, healthcare professionals must maintain a high resistance to unruly patients, angry management and administrators, and the tragedies that can occur in a hospital.

6. Don’t Back Down When Advocating for Your Patients

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 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.

11. Don’t Rush Orientation

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

16. Remember, the Grass Isn’t Always Greener

Avoid acting too quickly when starting a new position when deciding if its 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.

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.

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.

19. Never Apologize for Doing Your Job

Some people cannot be pleased, no matter what you do. Don’t 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.

Advance your career. Change your life.

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