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Is a Career in Medicine Right for You?

Medicine is an exciting field filled with ample opportunities to create a rewarding career, but it is also extremely demanding. You may have high ambitions and dream of becoming a doctor or surgeon, but the stressful work, long hours and years of education can cause anyone to hesitate. Is this field really the right choice for you? If you’re thinking about a career in healthcare, below are a few things to consider.

Think About How Much Time You’re Willing to Commit

Your commitment is certainly going to go beyond skimming books every premed student should read before they get started. At a minimum, you’ll need two years to enter the field. You can become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in three to six months, but many employers require at least an associate’s degree. For anything else, like becoming a registered nurse, you’ll have to commit at least four years to earn your undergraduate degree.If you aspire to become a physician or surgeon, then you’ll have to spend four to eight years after that to earn their medical degree. Even after school, medical professionals have to undergo continued training to ensure they’re always delivering the highest quality of care. You have to be a lifelong learner with a passion for always expanding your knowledge.

Evaluate Your Financial Status

Doctors may be high earners, but their education doesn’t come cheap. Medical school results in six-figures of student debt, which you should plan out well before you decide to commit. What impact will that debt have on your future plans? If you’re earning $100,000 to over $150,000 a year, you will take home significantly less after taxes and student loan payments.This can delay certain life aspirations like having children and buying a house, but you needn’t pick one over the other. Taking out medical school loans from a private lender can make it easier to finance your education. Becoming a doctor is a lifelong investment, but you shouldn’t let student debt stop you from following your heart. Do what you love, and start saving now. The more money you can put toward loans after you graduate, the easier it will be to balance your debt with your life goals.

Consider Your Ideal Work Environment

There are many reasons to consider a career in healthcare or the practice of medicine. Do you thrive off the energy of a fast-paced work environment, or do you prefer something slower and calmer? Being a nurse or doctor at a hospital can throw your life off the traditional 9-to-5 path. This means you’ll be working for longer hours, having some days off throughout the week and likely socializing with other medical professionals more than anyone else.Enjoying teamwork is another essential component to most healthcare jobs. You will need to collaborate with others to improve patient care and increase recovery outcomes. You have to be able to clearly express your own needs as well as those of your patients, be willing to listen and not take things personally. At the end of the day, you’re in the field to better other people’s lives, not for your own glory.

Make Sure You Can Handle the Stress

Nurses and doctors have some of the highest stress levels among working professionals. Are you prepared to handle the potential burnout it can cause? Do you have a support system or coping mechanisms for the inevitable rough patches? Building a resilient spirit and having the ability to persevere through hardship is critical to success in the field. More than that, it’s vital to providing the best possible care to patients, who need you regardless of how you’re feeling.

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