Everyone understands the intensity of pursuing a career in healthcare: the heavy workload, the late night studying, the busy time schedule, and so much more. Yet, if you’re still determined to step foot in this extremely diverse field, it’s important that you prepare yourself for what is to come. Here are six psychological tips to help get you into and be successful in a medical career:
1. Always prepare to learn more and challenge yourself
This is generally a characteristic that everyone needs to be able to survive in life, but it is even more crucial medical careers. There is already much to learn about the human body, so you must have a studious and diligent attitude to be able to comprehend the vast amount of information. You should be excited to learn more, not discouraged. If you hate learning, then perhaps you’ve chosen an ill-fitted career.
Furthermore, health and medicine is a forever expanding field. Coupled with the booming technological advancement and scientific discoveries, healthcare is constantly improving itself in order to provide the best service to patients around the world. In ten years, perhaps a common fact today will be challenged. You have to keep an open mind to accept new concepts, even ones that can turn your world upside down. The world is changing, and the ability to adapt is necessary to survive in the medical field.
2. Understand that it isn’t going to be an easy path
No matter what aspect of the medical field you choose to pursue, you should expect that things won’t come easy. Even if you only want to be rich from your job, it’s still important that you know about the hardships that come along with it. For example, doctors are in school for a very long time and have to pass many tests to become fully certified. Nurses, EMT, and doctors too, often have fluctuating schedules and potential psychological problems can also make you struggle.
Already expecting hardship will allow you to get through hurdles easier since you have a goal in mind. You don’t get caught surprised and become discouraged from your path, because the moment to choose to follow the medical field, you already know that the challenges won’t be simple and you will just have to carry on.
3. Practice breaking down your goals into smaller, achievable ones
Here’s a goal: Get into John Hopkins. Do you see how unrealistic it sounds like?
Let’s try again: Get good MCAT scores by studying 6 months prior, volunteer at least 4 hours at a hospital, and sign up for research positions. Then get into John Hopkins.
The clear difference is that in the second statement, your goal is broken down into simpler, more achievable aims. It’s easy to think of the future as something far away that you can’t quite reach. Many people think “I will study a lot and get into a good medical school/nursing school,” but the path to what they want is blurry and vague. You should always break down your big goals into smaller chunks – yearly, monthly, maybe even weekly. You don’t have to extensively plan your next eight years in your life, of course. However, you should have an idea of where you’re going toward so that you can start planning for the immediate future, such as three or six months from now.
This doesn’t only apply to big life goals. You can also break down a big assignment into smaller checkpoints. For example, a seemingly impossible semester project can be broken down into spending 2 hours weekly at the library for a month for research, then spending 4 hours biweekly to write down your work. It’s a skill that many successful people possess, so the same applies to you: If you want to be successful in the medical field, don’t overwhelm yourself and make sure your goals are realistic.
4. Speaking of goals: have a backup plan.
Life is never sunshine and rainbows. Somewhere along the way, you may fail to achieve what you set out to do, and that’s all right. However, in order to not be hopeless and completely destroyed, you should have a backup plan. For example, if you don’t get into your medical school of choice, don’t freak out. Taking a gap year is perfectly fine. If you don’t get into that nursing program you love, there are plenty of others. If you can’t get that specific internship, it’s not the end of the world. Placing all your efforts in a plan is commendable and smart, but no matter what, there should be an alternative choice should your first plan fails.
Having a backup plan will help you get back on your feet quicker. Firstly, you don’t despair too much over your failure because you have, in some way, expected it. And secondly, you have another goal to aim for and aren’t completely lose your direction in life.
5. Be sociable
It’s important that you don’t neglect human relationship when you pursue a medical career. No matter how busy you are, you should still section off an amount of time in your day or week to socialize with other people. Being isolated can be your downfall because you hear nothing but your own voice. Not only can this messes with your mental health in the long term, it can also result in narrow-minded decision making because there is no one else to bounce your ideas off.
Furthermore, when you’re down, it’s your friends and family who will help you. Having a support system is crucial to success in the competitive and intense world of medical education. They can help motivate you or assist you in preparing for a test.
A smaller tip is to get yourself surrounded by people with similar goals. You can help each other out and learn from other’s mistakes while gaining experience together. They may end up your best friends, your colleagues, or even your life partner later on.
6. Take break time for yourself and your hobbies.
And finally, you should not neglect your own health during your pursuit of a good education and career. Know the limits of yourself and take breaks often. Keep up with your hobbies every so often so you won’t drown in the monotonous life of memorization and reading textbooks.
Time for yourself also means time to take a step back and look at what you’ve achieved. It means time to consider your future and where you’re heading toward. You should do this so you won’t feel directionless; this especially helps when you feel discouraged from a hardship. Pause for a moment to make sure that this is what you want to devote your life into and to make sure you’re prepared to face any challenges.
Go exercise, drink water, keep yourself healthy, and shoot for the stars.