Women in Healthcare – Do You Have What It Takes?

Women in Healthcare – Do You Have What It Takes?

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Women have historically assumed the role of caregivers in modern society. As the “fairer” gender, we’re considered to be most sensitive to the needs of others and most capable of providing critical healthcare services. Given our aptitudes, it’s no surprise that women make up 80 percent of the medical work force. Since healthcare is the second fastest growing industry in the U.S., a career in medicine offers women ample opportunities to make a difference in others’ lives. So, how do you know if a healthcare career is right for you?

Beyond Scrubs
As children, we all played “doctor” or “nurse” with our friends, so we tend to think of those as the primary career options in medicine. However, according to MedicalCareerGuides.com, there are more than 50 categories of healthcare careers spanning a broad spectrum of educational and time commitments. Occupations range from medical office workers who have limited interactions with patients to doctors, nurses and therapists who provide hands-on care in a plethora of specialties. Other options include alternative, dental and veterinary medicine, nutrition, psychology, massage therapy, research, sales, forensics, pharmaceuticals and health education. Many of these offer flexible schedules for working moms, and they all offer unique opportunities to help others. Whatever your interests and preferences, there is likely a healthcare career option that can fit your needs.

Real-life Meredith Grey: Real Women Making Careers in Healthcare

Jill, a licensed psychologist with more than 15 years of private practice experience, comes from a family of doctors and has a natural proclivity to working with mental health issues. She believes that compassion and a desire to help are the core requirements for women considering a career in psychology, but she reveals that the real world brings unexpected challenges to her practice.

“Be service oriented,” she advises, “but combine that with a business orientation.” Doctors, especially those in private practice, must deal with insurance companies and managed care institutions as well as run the business side of their practice. Despite these frustrations, Jill finds tremendous fulfillment in her work and encourages women to find their own niche in the healthcare industry.

Some women find careers in healthcare by accident. After teaching high school English for a year, Heather found a new position as an osteoporosis specialty representative for a leading drug manufacturer. As a pharmaceutical rep, or “drug seller” as she likes to joke, Heather combines her interpersonal communication skills with her love of learning about the dynamic world of medical innovations. While her job is demanding and she spends many hours traveling to visit doctors in her territory, she enjoys a flexible schedule and autonomy. Heather derives great satisfaction from knowing that doctors are able to use the information she provides to better care for their patients.

Head to the ER, or Just Watch It on TV?
If you’ve decided that a healthcare career is for you but don’t know here to begin, here are some tips to get you started. First, take a deep breath and do some thinking.

• How much time and money do you want to commit to formal education?
• How much do you want to interact with patients?
• What facets of healthcare and medicine do you find most fascinating?

If you’re particularly interested in the inner workings of the human body, but don’t want to invest years in medical school, consider a job as an X-ray, ultrasound or MRI technician. If you like the idea of helping people recover after a major illness or medical procedure, you many want to pursue physical therapy. If you love kids, but don’t want to deal with them when they’re sick, try pediatric dentistry.

Whatever your choice, women in the healthcare field can enjoy flexible schedules, opportunities for continued learning and the fulfillment that results from providing care to people who need it most.