Confessions of a Healthcare Professional: Essentials You Must Know | by Happiness Decoded | Oct, 2021

Want to be a healthcare hero? Get the inside scoop!

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Being in healthcare is definitely a lucrative and prestigious career path. It provides immense satisfaction, financial stability and employment security. But, there are many aspects of a medical career that aren’t taught in school, nor can you find it in the theory in textbooks. A holistic medical career has so much more girth and expanse that is defined by experience more than anything else. For anyone considering a career in medicine or healthcare or those already in it wanting to really enjoy it, here are a few experiences to help highlight some of the practical aspects of this career.

  1. Fall in Love With the Unexpected– Some days there will be shifts with absolutely nothing- no joke. Pin drop silence (not really possible in a hospital, but you get the point). Just the regular “to do list”. Some days, you’ll beg for the day to just end an hour into starting because six patients will need you at the same time- again no joke. Some days are a good, steady mix. But, there is no guarantee of what you’ll walk into at any given time and that’s the thrill. The thrill of not knowing or anticipating, just living as it comes. Fall in love with not knowing and just living what the day throws at you.
  2. Know You Patients Inside Out- Not just their code status or their past medical histories, but their small preferences such as how may ice cubes they would like in their water and which side of the bed they prefer to receive their care from. Therapeutic connections with the patients helps them heal more than medications and iatrogenic interventions. Give them the human component of the care they deserve.
  3. Learn to Keep Yourself Entertained- While some days offer no down time, many days offer hours of time. Learning to entertain yourself and keep yourself busy is a must. Don’t sit idly. Explore the hospital, learn where all of the equipment is, try to figure out how to master your scope of practice. Additionally, bring your entertainment with you if you need to. Read a book, take and extra course and study for it during your down time…find something you love doing and engage yourself in it so you’re not sitting around bored.
  4. Doctors Don’t Always Know It All- Cut them some slack and if you are a doctor, accept this fact. The whole purpose of an interprofessional team is to work together and bank on everyone’s strengths. Whatever your scope of practice is, be assertive, knowledgeable and an expert in your field to be able to advocate for your patient. Don’t be alarmed if doctors ask you something- they go through a lot of schooling and need to learn a lot more in general. Be a mentor as needed.
  5. You Will Always Disagree With Someone- It’s the nature of medicine and patient care- there will always be something that you disagree with, but you need to pick your battles. Everyone has a different path of care in their mind that they think is right. Don’t make this personal, make it about the patient. Push for the best of the patient, not your practice.
  6. Speak Less, Listen More- The best way to learn holistic best practice is to be one to speak a lot less and listen much more. Listen to what others have to say about the different intervention options, listen to the explanations, listen to the disagreements- you’ll learn so much more than talking out of place with your limited knowledge. One person only has so much perspective and knowledge no matter what degree you have- more people, more perspective.
  7. Emotions Make You Human- It is absolutely normal and ok to get teary after a terrible code or after witness a death. People have this false perception that healthcare professionals should not express their emotions. Be empathetic and sometimes getting teary is exactly that. Learn to control yourself and remain calm in the situation, but there is nothing wrong is being impacted or affected by the situation you witnessed or were a part of. Learn to give yourself a break, take some time to process the event and then give yourself a renewed strength to continue.
  8. Be Comfortable With Extremes But Not Desensitized To It– Working in healthcare signs you up to see some of the most horrid sights in your life, whether you like it or not. Make yourself comfortable with witnessing and responding to these situations because the more you shy from them, the worse your reaction will be to them. Responding to extreme situations with apt composure, calmness and your knowledge expands your emotional intelligence and professional skills. This doesn’t mean that extremes should desensitize you because that kills your compassion and empathy.
  9. Death Is Imminent- Death is natural and an everyday occurrence in these environments. Time of death becomes a constant number. You are educated to help and heal, but that does not make you more powerful than nature. Be humble and know when to provide treatment and how to provide it without losing reality and practicality at your end. Be comfortable with the thought and idea of death and be a person in these cases, not just a professional.
  10. Don’t Limit Your Experience to One Setting- There is so much that you see, learn, experience and feel as a healthcare professional on a regular basis. Extend and expand these experiences into other aspect of your life to push yourself. Staying in your comfort zone is nice and cozy, but real happens when you make yourself a bit uncomfortable. Do yourself a favour and use your experiences to make yourself a bit more uncomfortable in other aspects of life with the lesson you learn in a healthcare setting- you’ll become so much better at your job and piloting your life.
  11. Multi-Tasking is a Must- You will get pulled from one thing to another and you will need to know exactly what you were doing two instances before being pulled into the third. Be focused and exercise your brain to sharpen your memory and flexibility. Be open to having to jump back and forth between multiple tasks without losing it or forgetting the details. It doesn’t come on the first day, it needs to be developed through the everyday experience. Don’t let yourself get exhausted, because this doesn’t change.

Getting into or being in one of the most fast-paced and stressful career paths, it’s important to know what you’re getting into and how to take it forward. Experience is one of the best teachers and to share those experiences solidifies the lessons and helps others too. Know that as dignified and as prestigious these careers are, much of what is seen without experience is simply the tip of the iceberg. The reality lies in the underlying 99% below the surface- this is where the richness of the experience lies.

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