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Making the Leap From HOSA to a Healthcare Career

Posted by Megan Maryott Friday, Mar. 25, 2016

Nebraska Methodist College Healthcare StudentsIf you’re a member of HOSA, then you’re already well on your way to a rewarding career as a health professional. As someone who’s passionate about helping other people, you’re probably willing to do whatever it takes to make your dream a reality.

But that doesn’t mean there won’t be roadblocks. Not everyone in HOSA is actually going to wind up with a job in healthcare. If you’re really committed to having a successful position in this rewarding field, we want you to remember these six tips. They’re absolutely critical when it comes to transitioning from HOSA to a healthcare career.

1. Explore All Your Options

You’ve wanted to become a physician all your life. Or a psychologist. Or a nurse. Whatever your chosen occupation, you’ve pursued it with a single-minded fervor. That’s a great attitude to have, but you should also be willing to explore all other options that are out there.

Medical school, for instance, isn’t for everybody. And that’s not a knock on your talents or on medical school. Plenty of people come to the realization partway through that becoming a physician isn’t the end-all, be-all that they thought it was. And if you haven’t been at least thinking about other career options at that point, it’s back to the drawing board.

Another example: let’s say you’ve had your heart set on becoming a physician assistant. What draws you to that position? If it’s patient interaction and leadership, give nursing some thought. With a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, you get patient interaction right away during clinicals, and you can immediately enter into your career upon graduation. Then, if you opt to earn a Master’s or Doctorate and become a Nurse Practitioner, you have independence that wouldn’t be there as a PA.

Examples like this are important to consider, even if you ultimately take the path you set out for in the first place.

2. Find Out if There Are Any Jobs You Don’t Like

As you look into different options within healthcare, you may discover your interests aren’t what you thought they were. Maybe you love working with patients but never stopped to consider how much of your current degree pursuits actually take you behind the scenes and away from patients.

Some physical therapists find out later on that they barely have time to work with actual people because they’re so busy with paperwork. Physicians discover they spend half their time dealing with Medicaid. Maybe you want to be a surgeon but you faint the first time you see a bonesaw put to good use.

People change their minds for different reasons. That’s why it’s important to explore your options; even as you find careers you respond to in a positive way, you’re bound to find a few that are most definitely NOT you. The earlier you can eliminate these, the better, as you won’t have spent years pursuing a career that you ultimately aren’t happy with.

3. Job Shadow

Job shadowing gives you the opportunity to get a hands-off, front-row view of the healthcare career you’ve been thinking about.

If you have a family member or a friend with a job you’ve been thinking of pursuing, ask if you can follow them around for a day. Or, if that’s not an option, call around to different offices in the area to inquire about such an opportunity. If you’re polite, I think you’ll be surprised by how receptive people are to taking you under their wing.

Even if you can’t be in the room when they meet with patients, you’ll get a sense of their job duties. Oftentimes, the experiences that take place outside patient interactions are the most eye-opening. You could be shocked by what a day in the life of a healthcare worker is really like.

And if you can’t get a job shadow? Then interview people in your career of choice to at least get a sense of how they perceive their day-to-day job functions.

4. Get a Healthcare Job. Now

Don’t mistakenly assume that you need to wait years to get a job in healthcare. That simply isn’t true. Plenty of programs and options are around that let you enter the healthcare world right after high school and continue working throughout college.

Phlebotomy certification is one option. In just six weeks, you can be trained to draw blood and collect various specimens for further testing. That’s a small timeframe yet it lets you immediately interact with patients and get your feet wet in healthcare.

And it’s hardly the only option. Interested in pharmacy? Become a pharmacy technician with a certificate course and work in the pharmacy at the same time most other people your age are bagging groceries in some other section of the supermarket.

Sterile processing is a fast and logical entry point to surgical technology professional. Medical assisting certificates take only a year to attain yet let you get a great healthcare job in a clinic or hospital. Certified nursing assistants require a month-long education and immediately can step into a role helping people directly.

You have a host of options ready for you in high school or right after, and the best part is you can work in these jobs part-time while you go to college to pursue your degree. Don’t wait to start your medical career.

5. Actively Participate in HOSA

Being in HOSA is one thing; actively participating is another. You’ve taken the time to join, so make the most of your membership.

Sign up for as many competitions and events as possible. If State and National representation isn’t enough incentive, remember that everything you do will look AWESOME to college selection committees.

6. Ask Questions of Prospective Colleges

You’re probably tired of getting pitched everywhere you look by colleges that want you to attend their school. But always remember that they don’t just get to ask you questions. You’re interviewing them as much as they’re trying to learn more about you.

When you visit career fairs or go on campus visits, ask about things that are important to you. Just because a school is supposedly prestigious or has a program you’re interested in doesn’t mean that you’ll enjoy going there.

Only you can know what’s important to you. If it’s small class sizes, then maybe a college that forces you to sit with 200 other premed students for years before you get into clinical rotations isn’t a good choice. We have students ask us about the lab spaces at Nebraska Methodist College all the time, and we’re proud to show them off because we think they’re awesome. Visiting a campus is your opportunity to get real answers that you can’t find online.

It’s the little things like these that you won’t see right away that end up being the most critical.

HOSA Now. Success Later

Honestly, this probably sounds like more work than it actually is. If you’re passionate about your calling in healthcare, these are the kinds of things you shouldn’t think twice about.

For more information on the many careers available in healthcare, download our Healthcare Career Guide. It has details about a handful of occupations that can be yours with the right path of study.

healthcare career guide

Topics: healthcare education, allied health career, preparing for college

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