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Here are a couple of reasons why not to go into healthcare:
• Someone else wants you to do it.
• Healthcare jobs look so exciting on TV.
"I tell potential students not to base their decision on ER or Grey's Anatomy," says Pat Reinhart, who coordinates the nursing assistant and acute-care nursing assistant, home health aide and healthcare core curriculum courses at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (www.minneapolis.edu). "But if you want to work directly with patients, clients or residents and assist them in their lives when they need you the most, this is exactly the career you want."
Patient Contact Or Not?
Some healthcare careers, such as surgical instrument processing may be completely free of patient contact. Each entry point into healthcare, with or without patient contact, is important, according to Reinhart.
"If they don't wrap that instrument package correctly, and the surgeon is reaching for something and it's not there, that's huge," she explains. "These are wonderful ways in which you can be with humans and touch them, but in a different way. Not everybody can be a direct caregiver and not everybody should."
A Checklist To Guide You
Kathy Bell, dean of Health Care Programs at Century College (www.century.edu), says that healthcare can be an exciting and rewarding career path, one that is always evolving. When she meets with prospective students, she offers a list of questions to consider when thinking of healthcare careers:
• Why are you interested in a healthcare profession?
• Do you want to work with well people or ill people?
• Do you want to work more physically or emotionally with people (with physical work including contact with body fluids)?
• Do you have physical restrictions that will limit your ability to lift patients?
• Do you want to work alone or with a team?
• Do you prefer a large institution such as a hospital, a small work environment or even home care?
• Do you want a long- or short-relationship with patients? (Emergency Medical Technicians and emergency department personnel have short-term relationships. Long-term care facility employees care for the same people daily.)
• What age spectrum of patients do you have in mind?
• Century College also offers prospective students interest inventories, including the GPS LifePlan www.gpslifeplan.org/century to help them choose a profession.
• Some students figure out what they want to do as they move through the core curriculum program, according to Reinhart. MCTC also offers "career camps" to help students discern their goals.
"You need to be a compassionate person," she adds. "I can teach just about anyone a skill. But it's very difficult to teach someone how to have compassion."